Waterford Walls

Waterford Walls

Late last year on a weekend trip to Waterford, whilst driving into the city we were greeted with a stunning image of a man’s body being embraced from behind with further unknown hands firmly clasped around his out stretched arms. The image literally sat up on a hill over looking the city.

A short while later, after booking into our hotel and out exploring we stumbled across another two striking images in a small square on either side of a house. The more we explored the more urban art images we discovered. With a pattern well and truly formed I Googled and quickly found the Waterford Walls project, an amazing initiative founded in 2015 as stated on their website ‘by a small team to bring much needed colour back to Waterford’, and they most certainly have.

It is an absolute joy to wander around and be greeted with thought provoking, smile inducing public art for everyone to enjoy. Sitting in a coffee shop looking up a larger than life image, wandering down side streets, filled with colour, an urban landscape used as a canvas to create striking, provocative and amusing visual images.

Intrigued I browsed their website discovering the artists who have been involved since the festivals initiation in 2015. Joe Caslin the creator of the stunning piece we first saw entering the city one of many Irish and international artists who have created the urban gallery in Waterford.

And it is all happening again this year – “17th-26th August, 2018 will see over 50 artists descend on our city to paint beautiful artwork on over 50 walls. Accompanying the artists at work there will be workshops, art jams expert panel talks, art and music trails all across Waterford city. Hang out with the WW team and artists over the 10 days in our two hub areas-The Yard and The Plaza.”

Now I definitely know where I will be heading in August, if not before hand as well. There are still so many of the pieces I have yet to see.

For all the details of the 2018 festival visit their website http://waterfordwalls.ie or their FB page https://www.facebook.com/waterfordwalls.ie/

Benbulben Forest Walk & Trip to Strandhill

Benbulben Forest Walk, Sligo

I spend most of my working week with my head stuck in a computer. Which means at this time of the year, with the shorter days, I definitely don’t get enough walking done in the evenings. So when the weekends come around I take every opportunity to spend most of them outside and as much as possible in trees, by the sea or up a mountain.

I’ve had it in my head to walk Mount Errigal near Gweedore in Co Donegal, since late last year, but as I am relative new to mountain walking I’m waiting for the weather to warm up a bit before we do.

In the meanwhile I had been looking in the Sligo direction and stumbled across a really nice website (https://sligowalks.ie) listing all of the different walks and trails throughout the county. So over last weekend we thought we’d leave Galway early on Sunday morning and walk the Benbulben Forest Park trail and do the sea shore walk in the dunes in Strandhill. Actually there were so many trails to choose from I would need to spend at least a week in Sligo.

Benbulben (Gortarowey) Looped walk

Length 5.5 km, Ascent 60 m, Time 1.5 hours

Benbulben Forest walk

Opting for the Benbulben forest walk was the most obvious one for me, the mountain itself rises dramatically from the side of the forest and is part of the Dartry Mountain range. (Note to self definitely want to walk the mountain)

Benbulben sits distinctly on the horizon as you drive into Sligo, and I really just wanted to see it up close. The forest park is a perfect opportunity to do this and with the day being so sunny I couldn’t resist. The walk itself is really easy to find, I have included the directions below or you can visit the Sligo Walks website https://sligowalks.ie/walks/benbulbin-gortarowey-looped-walk/ for more details. The walkway runs directly parallel to the mountain giving ample opportunity to take in all its features and on a sunny day they are spectacular. In all it took us just over an hour to walk it. The walk itself runs around the circumference of the forest and the path is quite hard with loose small stones so I would recommend good walking shoes.

Directions:

Take the N15 road north of Sligo for 8km. Continue for1.6km after Drumcliff village. Take the right-hand turn signposted Barnaribbon up by a thatched cottage. Follow the road straight ahead, and keep left where the road veers right. This will bring you to a car park on your left under Benbulben.

As we didn’t want to lose any of the precious daylight, immediately after we finished the forest walk we headed straight over to Strandhill, which is just a 30-minute drive and we were directly on the Wild Atlantic Coast.

Being as the day was sunny and bright, Strandhill was quite busy; we opted to park away from the beach and walk down to the start of prom, take a right and do the beach walk alongside the dunes. If you follow the walk all the way out it brings you past Sligo airport.

After walking we stopped for tea in Shells Café, which is right next to Voya Seaweed Baths and then watched the sun set on the bay – definitely a day well spent.

Strandhill Beach Walk, Sligo

Tips for walking:

Clothing:

Wear comfortable walking shoes, and clothing in layers. I find it is easier to regulate my temperature by taking on and off the layers, also at this time of year I always have a hat and gloves.

What I bring with me:

I always bring a small backpack with me so my hands can be free. In it I have water, small snacks such as bananas, nuts, fruit bars, if it’s a longer walk I always pop in a sandwich as well. And of course my phone, fully charged, I love taking pictures as I go. I also have a USB battery pack for my mobile, just in case I get carried away taking pictures. Then finally I have a small collapsible bowl, water and a small packet of food for my permanent doggy companion Missy, she comes everywhere with us.

Tracking my walk:

I like to track most of my walks using an app; the one I most use is Wikiloc. There are loads out on the market at the moment and they can be good fun for collecting all the walks you do in one place and keeping a record of them.

Burren National Park Sunday Walk

Burren National Park Sunday Walk

It has been a while since we had a small adventure, and it has definitely been missed. Over the past few weeks we have been de-cluttering the stuff in our lives, just items we have hung onto, for really no reason. So the last few weekends have been all about, donating, repurposing, and giving away lots of the stuff we own. As a consequence we haven’t gotten out to do what we really want, which is walking, hiking through all of the amazing places we are surrounded by. On a side note, us de-cluttering our lives has really been prompted by our move to wanting to spend more time outdoors, the less time and worry over stuff the more time outside – so yeah, and yeah to more de-cluttering.

One of the walks on our very long to do list is actually quite close to us, the Burren National Park is situated in the south-east of the Burren, Co Clare, which is just about a fifty minute drive from Galway City. The trail head is at these co-ordinates Latitude: 52.996707 / Longtitude: -9.0372419

It is a little bit tricky to find, and the roads are quite narrow so I would definitely suggest using a GPS to locate, and as their website suggests park on a lay-by when you arrive.

The Burren (Irish: Boireann, meaning “great rock”) is a region in County Clare, Ireland.
The Burren is underlain by limestones of the Lower Carboniferous (Visean) period. The limestone formed as sediments in a tropical sea which covered most of Ireland approximately 350 million years ago.

The start of the trail is easily to find and shows the various trails marked out to follow. We decided on the blue route which is a 7.5 km walk. It is classed as difficult and it is best if you have the right walking gear, in particular boots. The walk loops around the summit of Mullaghmore Mountain, passing along the shore of Lough Gealain, through large expanses of open limestone pavement, some grasslands and hazel woodland.

Relatively it is quite a small mountain, the whole trail has a climb of 140 metres, and on a sunny day it is the most spectacular landscape. I was completely mesmerised by the interplay of light on the limestone paving, starkly bouncing off the lake, as the odd cloud created shadows making everything look like an upside down world.

Initially, we followed the markers, but then somehow we missed one, and ending up looping off in the wrong direction, a minor clue might have been that we ran out of blue markers and then had to hop a wall, but it was an adventure after all.

After walking a bit more than we should have, Alan consulted his map and realised we had over shot where we should have been, which meant we had to scale up a vertical grass area and go over the top of Mullaghmore, not go around at all.

So doing my best wild mountain goat impression, I followed Alan, a bit red faced up and over a few rock faces until eventually we relocated the blue trail. Easy peasy!!!

Mind you though, there were a few people who did exactly as we did, missing the turn to the left we should have followed, so we weren’t the only ones heading over the summit :).

In all the walk took about three and a half hours, and was thoroughly enjoyable, my imagination ran riot, with the landscape, trees, cows standing looking down at us from the top of the mountain, the wild goats who gave us a wide berth and the standing rocks, it was like walking through the pages of a fantasy novel from inside my head. On a sunny day there is no better place to be.

For further information on the Burren National Park log onto their website http://www.burrennationalpark.ie or follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/burrennationalpark

Pin It on Pinterest