For almost a year, Bridget Foy, Andrew Beach and myself had been looking forward to visiting the Warren Peninsula together, that includes the remains of the Rinn Dúin castle and village and a delightful native woodland.
Despite inviting and encouraging others to join us it was just us
and my neighbour Jan who turned up for this special visit
... and a special and adventurous visit it was.
Leaving home at Carrowcrory, it was quite heavy rain, but by the time we reached Roscommon town it seemed there was no evidence of rain here. Cloudy, but sun peeking through. This is how it remained with the sunny spells getting longer and longer until it was just sun and warmth.
So here we are, lots of noticeboards at the start including this ...
and this ...
and a map
and the start of the trail markers, immediately warning us of a Bull ...
but he was not there today :-)
Before we set off we were fascinated by the herbs and flowers scattered by the hedgerows around here.
various mints, balms, roses and ornate wild flowers.
Before really setting off we were awed by the trees and a potential hollowed trunk planter
Now to start on the Looped Walk which was recently been changed from anti-clockwise to clockwise, but the first signs were confusing as the blackboard pointed to a different direction to the marked walk arrows.
We saw the next marked walk arrow ahead of us, beyond the cows and calves,
so we walked straight ahead.
I started looking at and playing the audio on the Every Trail app, which fortunately works offline. There was no 3G signal anywhere around here so I could not blog as we go, as I usually do, - but there is GPS here which works some travel apps on the iPad etc.
I was listening to an audio by Richard Collins and through this and he suggested
going a bit right here and visiting the medieval hospital and graveyard
... so that's what we did.
As I was pondering over 'Fratres Cruciferi' as being possibly a great name for a Biker's Club, I started to listen to more of Richard's commentary about this ... and then the audio seemed to echo.
I switched off his commentary, and still heard his voice.
There he was, talking to the others over his garden gate :-)
Richard shared lots of info with us, though I was a bit lost through his stories of some bodies where legs had been separated from the rest of torsos and buried in different places. As he shared this, to make sense of it, my mind was racing with a combination of the Grainne vs Dreacon battle legends, and my idea of 'Fratres Cruciferi'
being a good Biker's Club name or metal music band name.
After our wonderful chat with Richard, we were eager to explore.
This is the only pic I took of the Hospital Building remains, the oldest building on this peninsula dating 1216.
In the hospital cemetery there is the oldest marked dated grave in Ireland, 1532,
but there is no indication of who is buried here.
Jan tried to make the date engraving clearer.
This graveyard is full of mature Linden (Lime) Trees full of blossom that can
make a wonderful relaxing tea to aid sleep.
Plenty of blossom was gathered here ...
and celebrated ...
There were also ewes under yews (Bridget's comment) ...
and here is the base of the very wide trunk of the 'mother' Linden tree
of them all around here.
Out of the hospital, over a field, and onto the trail. Here we enter onto the trail section that follows the Lough Ree shoreline
Through this, Richard's guide suggests we look left to look at St. John's Wood,
so we did that ... some of us did, anyway.
Along the shore there are several Hazel trees full of nuts about to ripen
On much of this trail there was an abundance of hazel nuts, elder berries forming, large blackberry area and other foraging delights.
We came to the very long fortress wall, here's part of it.
Beyond this wall was the original Rinn Dúin village and castle.
Most of it is cleared now to make grazing fields.
This is a stone stile to cross over here near the shore.
Then we followed a path of 'fairy trees' as Richard calls this ...
and here we are coming out of the end of this ...
and so we were beside a bay of yellow water lilies
The women scoured the shore and entered the water to 'investigate'.
It was here that the sun truly came out,
so we stopped here for awhile for tea and flapjacks.
Next up, investigating the castle ruins.
Of course, everyone paid attention to the signs.
Meanwhile, inside was this ...
and this ...
Continuing on from the castle the two marked paths separated
I was thrilled when everyone was happy to continue to the longer route through Warren Wood ... but I did not let on that during the past 2 hours we had only covered a quarter of the walk !!!
Next up was the remains of the village windmill
which, apparently, once looked like this ...
The women wondered how they could get into this one?
They did ... but I do not have pics of that :-)
It was now time to enter the magical Warren Wood
with a swollen oak trunk near the entrance
and gorgeous hanging Ivy.
Someone had built shelter here for awhile
And then we arrived at the peninsula end, Warren Point, and rested awhile.
A wee bit of concern as we had been exploring for 3 hours now.
It was now 6 pm, and we are only half way round. Beautiful sunshine,
but gorging into a full picnic was in our minds now.
Beautiful Aspen trees around here, but I did not get pics of them,
which a a surprise, just this stray on the shore.
Back inside Warren Wood the trail broke up a bit and the pointer markers did not seem to be present. Looking at my trusty app I saw we had strayed west of the trail. Good sights though such as this oak tree.
We came out of Warren Wood
onto the shore of 'Shallow Bay'
Quite a lot of wild thyme here
but we lost the trail again ... but with GPS we were soon back on it.
For awhile the trail seemed like a desert of a straight line track on soft grass with Richard and Kate's B&B House way ahead of us and seemingly never getting closer. The sun was indeed warmer now too.
Not boring though, as there are more interesting things on the way
such as the remains of the medieval parish church
and the end of the bay was very pretty
So here we are at the end, looking back at another sign to say where we are, where we have been
This second half, the return walk, took us an hour.
The guide says 1 hour to 1.5 hours for the whole lot. We used up over 4 hours.
Even a 2 hour visit seems as if it would be a rush here.
Well worth walking and exploring this Warren Loop trail though.
Its an easy walking path. Generally very well signposted
so I do not know why we left the trail twice.
So off to enjoy our picnic we went.
I did not take pics of that this time.
Looking forward to returning to Rinn Dúin, and with more people.
We will try to return here in May, bluebells and spring flowers time.
Just a delightful light-hearted account John; it was almost like I was with you, but here I am back in Canada longing to return to Ireland.
I will follow all your walks if you post them like this.
All the best,