These Hills were made for Walking

I broke my arm eight weeks ago, smashed it in a fall from the bike, entirely my own fault. Having cycled over 7,000 kms in 2021 I had targeted getting beyond that this year. From cycling every night to having my arm in a sling was a real downer. With a 6 – 8 month rehab ahead I won’t see much of the bike in 2022 but rather than sit and mope I’m using it as an opportunity!

I hate walking on the flat – but I love hill walking, which while it is physically more demanding is infinitely more interesting and there’s a great sense of achievement in completing any of the many scenic loops or a hiking routes that are on our doorstep.

Knockroe Cross

I’m always surprised at the tendency of people to flock to the same beauty spots on weekends, especially when the sun shines as it did today. The crowds detract from the tranquility of walking in nature and with a little bit of imagination its easy find places that are quiet and every bit as attractive as the usual locations that we tend to be drawn to.

For me Shannons Lane is the nicest walk in the Blackstairs, it’s a defined path, rocky and grassy in places and its surrounded by stunning scenery. It gives a completely different view of the Blackstairs which I tend to view as linear and narrow but the range is in fact quite quite broad and has many wide open vistas of counties Carlow and Wexford. On a good day it’s possible to see the Saltee Islands.

Mount Leinster

There’s some good work going on in south Carlow to promote the area and it’s nice to see these strong markers for Knockroe to show the way.

I’m no expert on the routes in the Blackstairs but I do know there are many starting points and places of interest that are not that well promoted so far, except among the hill walking community.

The walk top Shannon’s Lane passes a number of ruins of old houses located high up on the hillside. Not an easy place to make a living but after eviction during famine times families moved up here and sowed potatoes high up on the hill side.

Cottage ruins

A little bit higher up on the hillside a path has been marked as far as a big rock, known as the ‘Giant’s table’ from which there are great views across to the summit of Mount Leinster.

The Giant’s Table

A coupe of other really pleasant walks were Coolmeala, between Bunclody and Carnew and Grange in Tipperary – with an amazing viewing point on top of an old Tower.

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