Walk the Line…

Blackrock Castle

Blackrock Castle

My friends and I often do a 2 hour walk in Blackrock, about 20 minutes from Cork city.   A lot of this walk goes along the Marina, on the south bank of the River Lee where it runs into Cork Harbour by Blackrock Castle

Dogs, cyclists, runners, walkers

.   The return part of the walk goes along the old railway line which ran from Cork city to Blackrock, a line which has long since been closed.   There are a lot of walks around this part of Cork which were railway lines up to the 1950s, but when cars and other forms of transportation became more plentiful, it was felt that the trains were no longer needed, and a lot of the tracks were taken up.    With the amount of traffic on the roads nowadays, some of these old railway lines are being utilised once more.

Here are some shots of this very popular amenity for walkers, cyclists, joggers, runners and families and dog walkers.

Old railway station on the railway line

Bridge over the line

And this is one of the places where you can start or end the walk, Blackrock Castle, at the mouth of Cork Harbour.

Cee’s Which Way Challenge : Week 8

Climbing up, up, up.

For this week’s challenge, I am going with some paths and trails around the mountains.  Last week we were hillwalking in West Cork, and here are some of the pictures from a lovely sunny day.

Distant fields

There are lots of different shades of green and gold to be seen in the distance.

40 shades of green

And in the Dolomites in Italy, the view from these paths can take your breath away.

Looking down on the village of Madonna di Campiglio, Italy

Looking down on the village of Madonna di Campiglio, Italy

To see some more posts log on to http://www.ceephotography.com/2013/09/04/cees-which-way-challenge-no-8/

From Making Gunpowder to Keeping Fit and Active

This evening I went walking in the Regional Park in Ballincollig, on the banks of the Lee, where there are lots of trees, and streams.  The park houses the old Gunpowder Mills, one of three Royal mills that manufactured gunpowder for the British Government.

The mills were originally opened by a private individual in 1794, before being taken over by the British Government during the Napoleonic Wars.   The mills were closed in 1903, when the demand for gunpowder slowed down and other types of explosives came on the market.

Many of the ruins of the old buildings can still be seen in the park.

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In their day, the mills were ideally situated close to Cork City, and on the banks of the river, so that the gunpowder could be carried down the river on barges to Cork Harbour.   When the British took over the mills, the site was expanded, and a cavalry barracks was built there in 1810, to house the military who escorted the wagons and barges with their precious, and dangerous, cargo to the boats waiting in the harbour.

Now the soldiers and gunpowder mills are all gone, and the park is a very beautiful amenity, with lots of walks, and soccer pitches, running tracks, and even some keep fit equipment along the walkway, so that a person can ‘work out’ in the fresh air!

The air was very still this evening, and I tried to get a few photos of the trees reflected in the water.

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There are a lot of different trees, some of them very old and majestic, like this one:

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and these more slender ones

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It’s a park full of history, and a great place to take a stroll in beautiful surroundings, and to imagine how different it must have been a few centuries ago.

A Hiking Holiday in Italy. Part One

Last week about 50 of us from our hill-walking club went on a hiking holiday in the Dolomites in Italy, and what a week it was, hiking uphill and down, taking the cable car to the top and then hiking down (a much better option), laughing, singing, (the hills really were alive with the sound of the ‘Fields of Athenry’  on more than one occasion) relaxing, eating lovely Italian food and ice cream, and drinking wine and cocktails, and then getting up at 7 a.m. next morning and doing it all again!

The Dolomites

The Dolomites

We were staying in a hotel in a ski resort, which was about 1600m above sea level, and as you can see, there was still snow on the top of the mountains.

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Our Italian guide, Maurizio,  was very knowledgeable about the  environment we were walking through, and one day we came across a tree that had been visited by a woodpecker, the birds tap away at the bark and  make holes so that they can eat the termites that live in the trees.  They can tell by the sound that their tapping makes whether there are termites inside or not, that is why you sometimes see a few smaller holes on the tree, that may have been abandoned.   Once the bird is satisfied with the size of the hole, he sticks his very long tongue into the hole and the termites stick to the surface of the tongue, and make a nice meal for him.    We didn’t see any woodpeckers, but we did come across a golden eagle, and our guide told us that there are about 8 breeding pairs in that forest.

Everywhere along the trails through the mountains, we came across little huts called Rifugios, but they are quite well equipped ‘huts’, most have accommodation, and serve delicious food and wine, and we usually bought our lunch in one of these rifugios, rather than bringing soggy sandwiches and a drink from the hotel.  There were plenty tables and benches where we could eat outside in the sunshine, and most of them supplied deck chairs so that we could linger awhile and rest our weary feet.   I wonder are other countries in Europe so well equipped to look after hikers in the mountains, Ireland has a long way to go in that respect.

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There was so much beauty everywhere we went, I will post more photos of hiking in the snow, and our visit to an old city called Bolzana, a winery, and Lake Garda.    It was a very busy week, I would say an activity packed week!

Rifugio

Rifugio

I spent Sunday Hill-walking in spectacular West Cork

Beautiful day on the hills near Bantry Bay.

Beautiful day on the hills near Bantry Bay.

Today I went on a 5 hour hike in West Cork with the Hillwalking Club, there were 60 of us and we went to a particularly scenic part of the county, Sheep’s Head, which is a peninsula close to Bantry Bay, and when one is up on the top of the hills, one can see the sea on both sides – today was a very calm, cool day (about 3 or 4 degrees).   We were well prepared for the cold, wearing lots of layers,  though once we got going on the hills, the layers soon came off, until we sat down for lunch at the summit of Seefin (400 metres above sea level).   It was fairly muddy and wet underfoot, and there was a bit of slipping and sliding, and we all came home with very muddy boots, and very muddy trousers!  What a great day to be able to go out and appreciate nature and wonderful scenery.

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