Continuing with my 12 days of Christmas wild things, we had a lovely walk at Moore Hall today. Moorehall is designated Special Area of Conservation for Lesser Horseshoe Bat. There are a number of relatively new wildlife sculptures and benches which now add additional interest to the walk, which I have blogged about before. Bats of course are the highlight here.
But many other mammals were also present.
And other animals too, the pike and dragonfly associated wit Lough Carra, which borders the site.
I love going for a walk, especially if exploring new places. This summer, we had a chance to visit Annagh Head near French Port (Portnafrankagh) on the Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. There were stunning views of the Atlantic.
And wild rocky coastlines.
The area has many amazing ancient Gneiss metamorphic rock formations.
Out at sea a blue fishing boat.
And then to top it all off – a whole pop of beautiful dolphins.
This walk is part of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail. Croagh Patrick is a pilgrim mountain here in County Mayo climbed every year by thousands of pilgrims. This Heritage Trial though is a much quieter place and the day I walk this bit of it, I had the whole place to my self.
Part of the walk winds it’s way though a lovely hazel woodland.
Here there is plenty time to take a quiet moment to enjoy the wonderful flowers.
The Altacooney River winds it way through bog and conifer plantations. A perfect place for a peaceful walk.
The Mayo coast is one of those places special spots. The north and far north western corners of the coast are a bit off the beaten track. Back in November we had the opportunity to do part of the Carrowtige Loop walk. The full walk is over 10km long but it is possible to do shorter loops (of about 3km), which we did. The walk offers spectacular views of Broadhaven bay, the Atlantic ocean and majestic sea cliffs.
We were lucky to have got one of those bright winter days but the wind coming from the ocean was bracing to say the least. In the distance of the photo below you can see the Stags of Broadhaven, some rocky outcrops that jut into the Atlantic.
The surrounding landscape is bogland, a rare and important habitat and an important carbon sink in a time of climate change.
Carrowtige is Ceathrú Thaidhg in Irish. Ceathrú means quarter or quarterland and Thadhg is the name of a person.
Kid island is grazed by sheep – how the farmers get them onto this rocky island is a bit of a mystery to me!
Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil in Irish) is a small island (just under 3km2) that lies between Achill Island and the mainland off the west coast of Ireland. We had the opportunity to visit the island a couple of weeks ago. The journey, just takes a few minutes in a small boat from the mainland.
The island has only very small roads and with hardly any cars, is the perfect place to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
One of the oldest building on the island is the church, a small pretty building on the eastern side of the island.
The island was only first inhabited in 1834. At it’s peak the island had a population of 171 and throughout the early 20th Century the population remained about one hundred. By 2006 the population had dropped to just 24. Today, there are just ten households occupied throughout the year and only 14 people living on the island permanently. The majority of inhabitants are over 50 years of age. The ferry man told us there was no longer any children living on the island.
In the past, farming and fishing would have been the main occupations but today only a couple of landowners continue to farm (sheep and cattle). Tuft is still being cut in some places.
The island has a magical quality to it. It is so peaceful, the views are stunning and the light is special.
But at the same time there is a sadness, a feeling that humans time here is coming to an end. The men who took us across on their boat were very conscious of the changing climate. They could already see the impact on their community, with rising sea levels and increasing strengths of storms. They showed us at how extra stones cages have had to be installed at the pier to protect it and how the floating platform needed and extra 30cm added to the top to deal with higher tides and storm surges. We often think of sea rise as only affecting tropical islands but for these islanders it was very real too.a
The island’s isolation is both it’s magical charm and it’s potential ruin.