The weather has been kind this Christmas holiday so Tuesday was the perfect day for a winter walk. I have featured this walk before two winters ago (how times flies!). The walk is part of the Foxford Way and the area is called Laughil, near Pontoon here in Co. Mayo. There are lovely views of Lough Conn from the track.
Over the years we have been walking here the birch and willow have been growing fast. It’s nice to see this natural regeneration. There is also quite a bit of holly too. Further along the track there are some stunted old oak trees. The trees are festooned in amazing ferns and lichens.
An oak and ivy natural sculpture
In one place much of the path is covered in fallen oak leaves. Here the low winter sun creates long shadows where there are planted conifers on one side of the path with the more natural woodland (mainly large oak) on the other side.
A lovely, pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
On Saturday last, we went on another one of our favourite local walks. It goes from Drummin wood just east of Foxford and joins with another part of the Foxford Way, which I have written about before (https://murtaghsmeadow.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/foxford-way-at-laughil/). It was cool, though the sun came out between the showers of rain and sleet. The walk starts at Lough Cullin.
We climbed through the mixed woodland of Drummin Wood. At the top of the first hill, conifer trees were cleared last year, leaving just the broadleaf and a lovely view of the lake.
The path then joins an old track (part of Foxford Way), that leads uphill. At this time of year, there are a couple of beautifully decorated ‘Christmas’ trees here.
The track continues to climb and at the top we got a great view of Nephin, one of our higher Mayo Mountains. The photo below is from 2013, as this year the mountain was not as clear due to the rain clouds, though it was similarly snow topped.
On the way back down we got a lovely view of the hills around Foxford. And the kids loved running down the grassy track.
There were more clouds rolling in as we reached the end of the walk. The lake is quite high at the moment – some of the willow trees are under a few feet of water, though this is not unusual for this time of year. It was a great morning out and it used up some of those extra Christmas calories.
The walk we did on Sunday is part of the Foxford Way, a long distance walk (56 miles) though some of our stunning Mayo countryside. The great thing about the walk is that you can do little sections of it and this is what we did. This section of the walk starts just west of Pontoon Bridge. It follows a track through an area of bog/heath. This area was planted with a conifer plantation some time ago but thankfully someone realized this was a mistake as it was an area of old woodland, so the conifer plantation was cleared. As far as I can tell the area is left now for nature to takes it course. Already birch and willow trees are coming back and hopefully oak and hazel will return over time.
Foxford Way – Laughil
The place-name is Laughil, in Irish na Leathchoille. Leath can mean half or side and Coille is a wood. Looking at old ordnance survey maps this area was wooded since at least the 1840’s. Once you get past the area of that has been cleared you find old oak trees, covered in moss and lichens, hazel too is abundant, and holly. There is moss, everywhere.
And lichens, including this one Lobaria pulmonaria, an indicator lichen for old woodlands.
On the way back you get to admire the view all over again.
We took a slight detour at the bottom and headed down to the lake shore to admire the stillness of the water.