Posts tagged with: 'heron'

Glennamong Mountain in the Nephin Begs

Glennamong (628 m), at the weekend, took me a little longer than I thought it should. Maybe it’s because it was my first day out hiking since before Christmas. I was a little out of practice.

This is a strangely named mountain in the Nephin Begs of west Mayo. How can a high point be called Glen- anything ? The valley below the peak is, of course, also called Glennamong, as is the little river that slithers its way down to Lough Feeagh. Anyway, I drove over to Newport, took the small road up past Lough Feeagh and the old hostel at Traenlaur Lodge and headed towards the bothy at Letterkeen.

Crossing the bridge over the Altaconey River beside the bothy, I followed the Bangor Trail for the first 3 km or so, before swinging left and heading up the E shoulder of Glennamong. Heading towards the top, this side gives great views out over the vast bog landscape of Ballycroy National Park to the N and is wonderful hiking country.

I enjoyed excellent weather, with no rain, although I did get hit by one burst of hail right at the top. That shower deprived me of the wonderful views across to the snow covered twin peaks of Corrannabinnia that I had been enjoying until it arrived quite suddenly. The lakes of Corryloughaphuill, below Glennamong, looked dark and cold and seemed delighted with the hail. It was time to descend.

Glennamong Mountain, Corryloughaphuill Lakes

Twin lakes of Corryloughaphuill below Glennamong Mountain

One of the highlights of this 7-hour hike in Mayo was, as always, being on the unparalleled Bangor Trail. The Trail is the undoubted highlight of low-level hiking in Mayo and, probably, Ireland. If you’ve never wandered along this centuries-old trail, weaving its way between Glennamong, Nephin Beg and Slieve Carr, then I’d recommend it highly. It once brought drovers and traders up and down from north to west Mayo, with hopes of buying or selling an animal, in an age where there were no roads to speak of. Wonderful examples of stumps of ancient Scots Pines can be seen protruding out from the saturated bog that swamped them.

Glennamong, Mayo, Ireland

On top of Glennamong

Other highlights included the tracks of two foxes that had moved across the snow together at 580 m, the Kestrel hunting at dusk, the 8 Ravens (a record for me) patrolling the skies and the beautiful Heron that often can be spotted in the gully near the start of the hike. The Ravens provided top class entertainment. Two, in particular, were engaging in wonderful aerobatic play, twisting and turning over and around eachother. They may well have been courting, as Ravens are among the earlier breeding birds. A great sight. Did you know that Ravens have the highest brain volume to body mass ratio of all birds, making them perhaps the smartest birds in the world.

Glennamong top does not compare to Corrannabinnia, Slieve Carr or Birreencorragh as the most attractive peaks of the Nephin Begs. However, like all the others, it offers great views in all directions and is highly representative of what a day out hiking in Mayo is all about.

The Bangor Trail and Nephin Beg mountains make hiking in Mayo very enjoyable and worthwhile. Before heading out, particularly in winter, please do read my Hiking Advice page.

Glennamong Hike

16 km; total ascent 760 m; 7 hours.

Glennamong is what you might refer to as the ‘middle’ mountain of the arc of the western Nephin Begs range, with Slieve Carr and Nephin Beg itself to the N, while the twin tops of Corrannabinnia and the line over to Claggan lie to the W. To the S is the outlier that is Bengorm. The range also includes the three slightly isolated peaks of Birreencorragh, Buckoogh and Nephin Mór, each lying to the S or E of the arc.

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Lough Boora Parklands, Co. Offaly

One place I had wanted to visit for quite some time was Lough Boora Parklands, a lovely restored wetlands and bog recreation area in the midlands. This is a post-production site in the flat Irish midlands, where the machines have stopped and nature is regaining control. The week before last, myself and the family went along. I highly recommend it.

Lough Boora is based on a project to restore cutaway boglands, previously exploited by Bord na Móna. The parklands have water channels throughout, supplemented by man-made lakes. On the day we were there, the site boasted Geese, Ducks, Lapwings, Mute Swans, Grey Heron and more. Lough Boora is home to Ireland’s impressive achievement in saving its almost vanished Grey Partridge, while Hen Harriers are often spotted there.

Lough Boora

Water channel at Lough Boora Parklands

But much more than that, it’s simply great fun for the kids. Get kids on a railway track (where there are no trains to worry about !) and watch them walk much further than might otherwise be the case. They love the large scale, wonderful and bizarre sculptures, which utilise the old Bord na Móna equipment (including a turf train) to great effect. The place boasts 50 km of walking and cycling trails – that’s impressive. Children love it (did I mention that already ?) and will happily spend hours running around.

Lough Boora Parkland, Offaly

Juvenile Mute Swan

It is fabulous to see how nature is taking over this place once again. Look at the blocked drainage channels becoming recolonised and the alder and willow trees popping up all over. Lough Boora may be a candidate to become Ireland’s first inland National Park.

Visit Lough Boora Parklands

The Park is located west of Tullamore, Co. Offaly, on the R357 towards Shannonbridge. Go there, it’s truly wonderful. We’ll be back.

Visit the official website.

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