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Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Sanctuary For Romantics And Bards

I write a lot about Forest Bathing and this year I'm focused on what forests existing fit that role.

So far I have known favourites in the woodlands around Lough Meelagh, Glenfarne, Derrycarne, Milltown, Church Glen in Wicklow and Brackloon in Mayo. Also a prt of Cong Wood and Inchaghoill Island in Mayo.

I was not expecting to find the seemingly 'perfect' forest bathing forest at Dooney Rock Woods.


Of course, I had to assess the picnicing facilities before we set off, well while I was waiting for people to arrive.


Only one table here, I was surprised, but soon found out why.

Not only did just one person turn up for Bards In The Woods this afternoon but barely anybody else came here.

Weather was ok. There was drizzle and light rain as we travelled here, but as seems to be the pattern on our Sunday afternoon it cleared away, so did the wind, it warmed up and a wee bit of sun came out. The clouds did hang low though.

The trail here is a figure of 8 walk that climaxes with a climb up to the top of the Dooney Rock.


Actually, I think we did that in reverse of what is planned. I think the planned idea is to climb the rock first ... then do the figure of 8. Of course, feel free to do what comes to you here :-)

The path meanders like so ...


Then down some steps ...


... and this is looking back up them.


... and before you feint, I have quite chronic arthritis these days and I found this whole walk was very easy, very relaxing.

As you walk around there are a load of these signs to explain what is around. This is Number 2, and we never found Number 1 ... sounds familiar doesn't it :-)


Next sign we came to was Number 12, and that's when we realized we were walking against the planners.

Stunning lough side views now of Lough Gill, despite being a bit misty ...


and I do not think I have seen a wood with so much seating. I took a lot of pics of seating.



Some wide trunk sessile oaks here ...


small yews

more seats


interesting landscapes


yes, some exotic import evergreen plantation


A bunch of mysterious evergreen Holm Oaks



A bit of hippyness ... though it could be children planting dog daisies into the moss


more seats


And now !!! Dooney Rock ...


that has a wee cave


and there are more seats


with a view


a strange remains of some building


and more seats as we ascend


and there's Beezie's Island


and I did not take pics of the seats here.

Beezie was a woman who was born and raised here. After that the story changed with each teller. It is known that she moved from the island to work for the Wynn family of Hazelwood House, but when she retired refused to settle into a retirement home in Sligo. Instead, Beezie returned to the island of her birth even though all of the people had moved away from the islands of Lough Gill.

There Beezie had a remarkable relationship with nature, and it really needs another blog to explain those stories. Of course people visited her and she told many yarns about nature and of her times at Hazelwood House, making impersonations of the people that lived there and visited there.

Every Thursday, Beezy would row into Sligo town to get her pension and weekly shop. This was through the 30s and 40s. Some people say she did that until her passing, though others say that when she became weaker she rowed to a little jetty here at Dooney Rock Wood


As she was at the same time each week someone would have been arranged to pick her up.

In 1951 she visited Sligo town on Christmas Eve and it was a cold and wild weather one. People tried to stop her going home for Christmas, but she did. Some folks said they would sale out to her right after Christmas to saw up some fuel wood for her.

When they did, her home had gone up in flames, and Beezie was burned to ashes too, presumed to have made some extra effort to keep warm that went wrong ... but she has been a legend since, especially her gentlness to nature.


Yes, down from the rock, after no fiddler being there, to tuck into picnic, a bit of potato salad left.

This is a wee map of where we had been, by the way.


You can see the figure of 8 route and the spur up the rock.

After Andy had gone it started raining ... and people turned up :-)

I decided to check out Slish Wood down the road, that Yeats called Sleuth Wood, as we have that listed as a Bards In The Woods in July.

Quite a shock ... the car park was full and I could not park anywhere !!!

I waited a few minutes as it was raining and thought people would now rush to go home ... but only one appeared to go, but that's all I needed was a parking space.


So off I went ..


Yes, check out the picnic facilities ...


Actually, loads of picnic tables scattered around here compared to just one at Dooney Rock Wood.

This was typical of the pathway here ...


Easy walking really, though the board at the start says "strenuous" and I suspect the climbs are long but not difficult. I just walked the shore for a quick peak though.


but I soon got bored with this forest, after my time in Dooney Rock Wood


This is really a perfect forest for joggers, power walkers and long distance hikers, a kind of gymnasium forest for exertion more than relaxation, was how I was feeling.

The noteriety here is probably due to this being on the long Sligo Way hike route.

I have decided this is not for Bards and Romantics, so I have changed the Sleuth/Slish Wood July date to Dooney Rock Wood again to experience there in full leaves and abundance.

I hope you will join us in that truly forest bathing wood to be Boladh na Sioga, Bathing In The Fae's Breath.


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