It seems like an age ago on this damp and chilly morning but I’ve been meaning to do a blog on my experience of the Carlow Walking Festival for a while and I’m finally getting around to it. Candle making and the Christmas rush has gotten in the way of my writing lately :)
I was delighted to be invited by Dee of Greensideup to take part in one of the walks – the festival was organised by Carlow Tourism and is a fantastic way to promote the beautiful landscape and nature in the Carlow area. I’ve raved before about Donegal, my favourite holiday destination in Ireland but I should also say that I love the area where I live and its surrounding counties, the landscape is very different to the wild and rugged coastal areas but it has its own gentle beauty and a wealth of gorgeous places to explore and experience nature.
One of the great things about the walking festival was the range of walks, suiting everyone from total beginners to the more experienced walker and lots of information was given about what was needed regarding clothing, etc.
Perhaps next year I will try a longer walk but for this year my husband and I opted to do C Walk 11, one of the easier and shorter walks. It was described in the brochure as a stroll along the Barrow Way from Clashganny Lock to Borris Village, looking at trees, plants and insect life with Una Halpin from Wildways Adventures. We set off for Borris village to register and one of the first things that struck me was how charming Borris itself is. Stone buildings and beautifully kept surroundings with flowers everywhere made such a lovely impression. Borris House is located here; home of The MacMurrough Kavanagh dynasty, former Celtic Kings of Leinster and the house can be visited by groups by prior arrangement. There is a wealth of history in the area including a 16 arch viaduct designed by William le Fanu and built in 1860 and the atmosphere of the town is friendly and welcoming.
We registered and set off by bus to our starting point, the weather was lovely and there was a great mix of people and a generally convivial atmosphere. There was a brief delay as Irish TV did some filming and then Una introduced herself and gave us some sheets with plants and wildlife to look out for; there was certainly plenty to see and lots of discussion about plants and the area in general. The scenery was truly beautiful and there was a great sense of peace and harmony.
It was lovely to spend time with people who, like myself, are interested in nature and appreciate and enthuse over wildlife and plants.
It was a really great way to spend an afternoon and the tea and sandwiches afterwards were very welcome.
Unfortunately I only had time to do one walk but some of the others I would have loved included a walk exploring the history and archaeology of the Blackstairs Mountains, a walk with Mary White foraging for greens and fungi and a walk with Éanna Ní Lamhna, an amazing selection available and very hard to choose between them!
I’d definitely recommend taking part next year, it was a fantastic festival and a great job was done by Eileen O’Rourke of Carlow Tourism. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the program for 2015.