A Clear(ing) day in Tollymore

A Clear(ing) day in Tollymore

A small, but intrepid, group of seven walkers made its way to Tollymore Forest Park for the February walk. The route chosen was the mountain trail with the addition of part of The Drinns loop. However, for the first part of the walk, we chose to take the more scenic route along the Shinma River before following the mountain trail.

As we descended to the river, through the formal gardens, we noticed the first clearing of the day. Most of the rhododendrons that had previously dominated the garden have been removed – presumably to be replaced by new planting.

Later in the walk, on The Drinns loop, the group’s most experienced Mourne walkers, Brian and Maurice, commented on the extensive harvesting of the pine forest through which the path travels. Saplings have been planted between the stumps of the harvested trees, but there is now an open vista over the surrounding mountains. Slievenabrock and Luke’s Mountain were in clear view. Unfortunately, the mist that was clinging to the snow on the top of Donard prevented us from seeing the highest point in Northern Ireland.

When we crossed the path between The Drinns, the clearance gave a great view across the Forest Park to Castlewellan and to Slieve Croob in the distance. We joked that we should make the most of the view because, if we came back in 25 years time, the saplings would have grown and the view would be obscured.

Around this point Brian promised us a summer seat on which to have lunch. Unfortunately, the seat was not to be found. We surmised that it was collateral damage of the several large trees that had been uprooted by storms. Further on, we found a spot for lunch – sitting on the grassy edge of the path with our feet in a dry ditch. We believe that this was the first time the Walkers have had lunch in a sheugh!

As we were having lunch, we were passed by a couple walking two Irish wolfhounds. A few minutes later, from another direction, came another couple with a single Irish wolfhound. (You go for years without ever seeing an Irish wolfhound and then, one day, three come along in five minutes!!).

Other fellow travellers were several groups of mountain bikers and a couple of men whose accents suggested their home county was well to the south of County Down. They had walked several miles already and had a few more to travel before reaching their destination – Meelmore Lodge, which, they told us, serves a “great pot of tay”.

We returned to the car park having enjoyed a great walk. As is our tradition, we sought “tay” and coffee for refreshment and found them, once again, in McCann’s at Balloo.

PETER GIBSON

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Sunday 11th February 2018

Category: Walkers

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