St Columbanus Walkers visit County Armagh
In November, a baker’s dozen of St Columbanus walkers headed to Armagh. We were close to Maurice’s home place and he was able to guide us along the by–roads between destinations.
Our first stop was Gosford Forest Park on the outskirts of Markethill. We set off on the 4–mile Cruntagh Trail which mostly follows the perimeter of the forest park. It was a bright sunny day and walking in the forest sheltered us from the keen northerly wind that was adding to the autumn leaves below our feet.
An unscheduled detour brought us to Gosford Castle – a somewhat curious building with a varied history. It was built for Archibald Acheson, the 2nd Earl of Gosford, in the first half of the 19th century in “Norman revival” style. With 150 rooms, it was thought to be the largest stately home in Ireland. It was sold by the Acheson family in the 1920s and since then has been a prisoner of war camp, a hotel and an army barracks. It is now a number of private apartments.
Returning to our path, Robert pointed out the birds of prey, soaring over the neighbouring farmland, looking for food.
The last part of the walk took us through open parkland. This reminded Leslie of his visit to the international Scouting Jamboree held there in 1989. One of the organisers of the event was Mark Larmour of St Columbanus Parish.
After lunch, we travelled a few miles to Clare Glen for a delightful 2.5 mile walk along the Cusher River. The glen is famous for its bluebells, so some of the walkers plan a return visit next Spring.
Our last destination was the Tea Room in the village of Scarva, where we admired the extensive display of flowers in the main street. Refreshed, we returned to Bangor having had a wonderful day out in unseasonably bright November weather.
The next outing is on 3rd December. We meet at the car park at 9.45 am for a walk in Scrabo Country Park followed by a festive meal in The Esplanade.
Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Monday 21st November 2016