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

Walking Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains

Walking Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains

Slieve Donard, the highest peak in the Mourne Mountains made famous by the Percy French song and until recently my nemesis (obviously being a bit dramatic here).

I finally reached the top of Slieve Donard on an absolutely stunning day two weeks ago and it was worth every minute of the wait.

Slieve Donard stands 850m above sea level, literally from sea level, and according to my research it is a moderate to strenuous 5hour, 9km walk. Moderate to strenuous I can confirm, but I was rather slower than the 5 hours, coming in at 6.

Strangely enough I took much longer coming down than going up, and of course we sat for quite a bit at the top of the mountain taking in the clear spectacular views.

I can pretty much say I am mostly over my fear of heights now, and I am so glad I am, otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to experience this vista.

It’s funny, now I’m all about looking forward and I can’t wait for my next small adventure, which will most likely have to do with mountains.

But less than a year and a half ago the thought of walking into town was something I wouldn’t even entertain, never mind going up an 850m mountain, why – just because I didn’t!!! I’m not quite sure what happened, but in March 2016 I became obsessed with wanting to walk amongst trees, regularly. It cleared my mind and gave me the sense of calmness I was looking for.

And I just kept walking, I walked around Lisbon, Malaga, Granada, into the Serra Neveda.

I remember actually crying when I saw some of the hills in Lisbon, I was so unfit I couldn’t walk up them, little knowing that just over a year later I would be happily smiling going up Slieve Donard.

Nor did I know in January when I stood at the bottom of the Saddle, in the Valley below looking up, afraid of going any higher, (I was petrified of heights), that 6 months later I would be on top of Donard on the clearest day possible looking out across the Irish Sea and over the tops of the Mournes, all because of my want to start walking. I am so happy I did.

On my journey so far I have learned loads of lessons, from what to wear, to more importantly what not to wear, reframing my thoughts, (one of the harder lessons), embracing challenges and just putting one foot in front of the other. If you are thinking of changing things up and getting a bit fitter I am working on a post at the moment looking at all the things I have learned / embraced over the past year, plus, what I would like to have known when I started compared to what I know now.

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Over the last fortnight we spent eight days traveling around Granada, Malaga and the coast, lots of driving and walking along beaches, through towns, villages and some natural trails in the Sierra Nevada. Even though we had planned to do a whole heap of things, time mostly got the better of us.

By last Sunday we had reached our last full day in a small village just outside Granada called Huerta Vega and just a short 15 minute drive from there to another village Monachil meant that we could spend Sunday morning walking in the mountains.

We decided to take the easy trail along the Rio Monachil, which started the far side of the village. Parking was easy to find, even though the village was quite busy at the time. Following the signs at the beginning of the walk, it was really easy to access the river and follow along the path.

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Monachil village

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

River Monachil

After having walked near 125km over the previous week, that was before doing any type of a hike, we really only went for a gentle stroll by the river in the shade of the trees. The path itself is a mix of natural and man-made steps, banks with oodles of places to sit and while away a few hours listening to the cool mountain river babble past.

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Pathway along the river

The path is famous for its hanging bridges and canyons, as we were just on a stroll we decided to go back after the second hanging bridge, staying in the cool shade, and taking some time to watch the rock climbers and paragliders.

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Un-restored Central Electrica de Tranvias

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Along by the river

On our way we passed families on a day trip, picnickers and a really interesting restored building the Central Electrica de Tranvias which is now being used by the village of Monachil for electricity, but was originally used to power the trams running in the nearby areas.

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Restored Central Electrica de Tranvias

As a Sunday morning stroll after a very busy week it was just perfect to dust off the hustle and bustle of travel and city walking, the only pity is that we didn’t have enough time over all. Most definitely a revisit is on the cards.

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Pathway between the hanging bridges

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Rock climbing nearby the hanging bridges

Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros Monachil

Pathway between the bridges
Hanging Bridges of Los Cahorros MonachilMountain and sky towering above the bridges

Monachil itself is a wonderful village to visit, quiet, picturesque with benches running beside the river where you can people watch the local villagers playing boules, small farmers working the land by the river side as they cleverly manipulate the soil to deliver cool mountain water to their vegetables, an absolute joy. We will be back…

The walk is very easy to find, we used our gps to travel to Monachil village and at the far side there is a sign mapping out all of the routes. You can also get there by bus, which runs from Granada, literally I saw one passing us about every half hour when we were walking around Huerta Vega.

For more information log onto the Monachil website click here

For upto date events follow their Facebook page click here

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