Walking on the Blackstairs Mountains
Carlow’s majestic Blackstairs Mountains together with the charming villages of Myshall, Ballymurphy, Borris and Rathanna will feature in this year’s Carlow Winter Walking Festival which takes place from Friday, November 12 – Sunday, November 14.
The festival caters to all levels of walkers, from experienced hill walkers out to enjoy an invigorating hike to novices seeking to discover new routes along more leisurely paths and tracks. This well-organised event aims to make the great outdoors accessible to everyone with knowledgeable local guides from Tullow Mountaineering Club and volunteers guiding visitors through the Carlow countryside.
The festival starts on Friday evening with the very popular night hike. John Byrne, member of the local Tullow Mountaineering Club who leads this walk comments: “It is a truly magical experience to walk on the Blackstairs at night time and an altogether different one than walking in daylight when different sights, sounds and wildlife can be appreciated”.
On Saturday one of the most popular walks on the walking festival covers a history and heritage tour incorporating a number of interesting historical sites, subject to prevailing weather conditions on the day. These include the World War II German plane bombing of the Shannon family home, standing stones, ancient rock art and old settlements. While still a mountain walk,
time will be taken to look at the overall history of the area.
Another route for experienced walkers departs from Corrabut Gap, one of the most picturesque points on the Blackstairs Mountains, before crossing the River Burren and taking in Slievebawn and Tomduff Ridge.
For those who missed out on the opportunity to experience Ireland’s newest camino – the Columban Way – there is another opportunity as part of the Winter Walking Festival. This route focuses on the Carlow stretch of this major new European pilgrim walking route with a walk from the Nine Stones viewing point to Myshall Village. St Columbanus, Ireland’s first great European saint was born in the shadow of Mount Leinster and walkers can follow in his footsteps as he journeyed during the 5th and 6th centuries from Carlow to Bangor in County Down where he founded a famous monastery. St Columbanus had a huge affinity with nature which can be appreciated in the stunning mountainous countryside of the Blackstairs - relax, breathe a
little deeper and journey not just to a destination but to a great understanding of nature and
life, as you travel this beautiful landscape.
Those wishing to explore new leisure walking routes can head to Carlow Town to enjoy a walk based around the tragic tale of Lucinda Sly, who was hanged for murdering her husband in 1835, along with her alleged accomplice John Dempsey. Meet at the sculpture in Shamrock Square from where knowledgeable local guide John McDarby of Carlow County Museum will proceed
through Carlow Town covering key areas associated with her life including Potato Market, Burren Bridge and Carlow Shopping Centre. Step back in time and enjoy the intriguing story of Lucinda Sly.
Leisure walkers can enjoy the popular mindfulness walk through the beautiful Clogrennane Wood led by mindfulness coach Jack Byrne gaining tips on positive mental attitude by bringing your body and mind closer to nature. Or alternatively join the 3km photographic walk at Kilbrannish Forest Recreation to learn all about the basic principles of photography in the wild
using a camera or mobile phone.
The opportunity to discover a new stretch of the River Barrow awaits at noon on Sunday morning as visitors can explore the 7km stretch of waterway from Goresbridge northwards in the direction of Slyguff in the knowledgeable company of Brendan Stafford of the Inland Waterways Association. Afterwards, relax and enjoy refreshments in one of Carlow’s newest
tourist attractions, the historic Goodly Barrow old mill on the Carlow side of the River Barrow in Goresbridge. Later that afternoon head to the village of Rathanna awaits further exploration in a leisurely walk that combines history and heritage and flora and fauna in one of Carlow’s most picturesque rural locations.
"We are delighted to be in a position tobring a second walking festival for visitors to enjoy this year. Carlow has a well-established reputation for the quality and variety of its walking routes which have become even more important as we navigate the pandemic. The Winter Walking Festival offers visitors great value and with all members continuing to adhere strictly to COVID-19 protocols visitors are assured that all safety concerns are being addressed. We greatly appreciate the support offered by Carlow County Council under the Festivals and Events fund, without whom the organisation of
the festival would not have been possible”.
For further details on registration for the walks, starting points and rules of participation visit www.carlowtourism.com/walkingfestival or phone 059-9130411. Details of special accommodation packages are available by logging onto www.carlowtourism.com/specialoffers
Follow the hashtag #wanderoffthetrack on social media channels for more information, videos and offers.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlowtourism handle: @carlowtourism
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