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  1.  Report on Boherquill  Ramblers 2023     Walking  Festival

                           Tullynally Castle

                                                                                                                                                     The Ramblers 2023 Walking Festival opened in Castlepollard on Friday 12 May with an evening walk out to Tullynally Castle and through the castle grounds. The main drive was lined with beautiful mature trees and beyond the castle itself the old stone estate workers cottages and farm buildings created an appropriately old-fashioned scene

                                                                                   The walk down the farm road to the back gate and along the Coole to Castlepollard road back into the village was a delightful summer evening stroll with bright sunshine on the woods and fields on each side.

         Heading back to Castlepollard. 

Back in Castlepollard the walkers were welcomed into the stylish surroundings of the Castle Varagh Hotel  which has recently re-opened after extensive renovations. There was a relaxing end to the evening with everyone tucking into tea, coffee and scones Thank you to the staff and management of the hotel, we wish them well in their new venture.                                                                                                   

             Meeting in Fore for the Sunday walk.

      There was a little light drizzle when the walkers met again in Fore on Sunday 14 May to register for the day’s 21 km walk but the refreshments in Fore Coffee shop raised spirits and the rain had stopped by the time all had boarded the bus to the start of the walk at Ballymanus   About a kilometre of farm track and fields led to the parting of the ways where the party split with about half taking the 16km option and the rest heading for the steep climb to the top of the Hill of Mael through Bigwood where slippery fallen leaves and mud made for slow progress.

                   View from the top of the Hill of Mael.  

  The effort was worth it, though, when the wonderful views from the summit to the south and west were revealed. After a short break the group headed down across the fields to Whitegate where they turned right onto a side road to Foyran where Frank Higgins was waiting with water, fruit and words of encouragement. Another right turn and the walkers headed for the back entrance to Mullaghmeen Forest. A large convoy of tractors passed by and it was a contrast to get away from the busy road and turn into the peace and quiet of the forest at Tonyowen. The half a kilometre of forest trail was a welcome cooler interlude after a couple of kilometres of road. Frank was waiting at the main entrance to Mullaghmeen, ready to direct the walkers onto a side road towards Hilltown and a break for lunch with Frank in attendance again.

                                Mullaghmeen Forest.

                   In the woods near Hilltown.                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                       Lunch didn’t take too long as there was still a long way to go, starting with a narrow trail through sun-dappled woodland near Hilltown, possibly the most attractive part of the whole walk.

                                   The White Lough.                                                      

                                                                                      The route continued on roads lined with cow parsley and other wild flowers to the White Lough, well known from previous Walking Festivals. Yellow gorse and whitethorn blossom covered large areas of the hills around the Lough framing the peaceful scene with just one angler’s boat and a couple of swans out on the water. The group skirted the Lough and took the access road from the fishermen’s landing area out to the Oldcastle road.                                                                              Across the road the last climb of the day began, leading first to great views of the three Ben Loughs with a profusion of yellow gorse and whitethorn and higher still to the shoulder of the Ben of Fore.

                    The Ben Loughs from the Ben of Fore. 

  From here it was possible to look back to the Hill of Mael and Mullaghmeen as well as a large area of the surrounding countryside. A steep descent through woods down to the road into Fore left only a short walk to the welcome refreshments waiting in Fore Abbey Coffee Shop. The walkers gathered in the Coffee Shop relaxed as they looked back on a tough but very enjoyable day’s walking.

                                                 Fore Abbey     

Many thanks to Frank, John, Barry, Shea, David and Aoife Higgins for all their hard work in devising and guiding such an enjoyable walk. Frank was also frequently on hand with fruit, water and lifts back to base when needed. Thank you to Jane O’Reilly in Fore Abbey Coffee Shop whose endless pots of tea, cups of coffee and assorted goodies perked up everyone before and after the walk. Thanks also to Salmon’s Coaches who provided the bus.

A special thank you to all the landowners who gave access to their property on the day.

                         Whitethorn blossom.                  

                                                                                                                                                          A larger selection of photos can be found on the Gallery tab of the Ramblers website.




                                      Magnolia at Tullynally Castle Gardens

The Ramblers 2019 Walking Festival was held over the weekend of 10-12 May. It opened on Friday 10 May with an evening walk in the magnificent gardens and grounds of Tullynally Castle: the Woodland Garden and the Flower Garden were visited first, followed by the family of llamas in their paddock.

                   The Chinese Clearing, Tullynally Castle Gardens

The walk continued past the Upper Lake to the Chinese Clearing where a stream linking the Upper and Lower Lakes runs by a pagoda. Further on, the Forest Walk led to an observation point beside the Lower Lake with a view back to the castle. The group continued through the forest out onto the back road and returned on a loop to the Gingerbread House.

              Magnolia and Bluebells in Tullynally Castle Gardens

 Here the estate owner Thomas Pakenham met the group and recounted the history of some of the magnificent trees, magnolias and other shrubs which he has gathered from all over the world. The tea and delicious scones in the Tea Rooms were a fitting ending to the evening.

            Mullaghmeen Forest

              On Saturday the group met at the Hotel Castlepollard for tea and scones before their walk in Mullaghmeen Forest. Joe Masterson led the way in the forest, moving among the marked trails in the forest, and including the highest point with its wonderful views including over Lough Sheelin into Cavan. Sunshine filtered through the fresh young leaves on the beech trees, lighting the spectacular display of bluebells in the forest and on a short stretch of road outside the forest the ditches were full of wild flowers with even a few orchids. The hawthorn hedges were in full blossom, filling the air with their scent and there was birdsong in the air all day.

                                          Sunshine and Bluebells in Mullaghmeen Forest

The weather continued mild and bright on Sunday for the longest walk of the weekend, from the Float Bridge near Coole to Fore Abbey, a distance of 24 km. After tea and bites in Jane’s Coffee Shop in Fore everyone boarded the bus to the start of the walk. The going was soft underfoot for the first part of the walk across Coolnagun bog and along a green road through Derrya to Coolure Demesne.

                                           Coolure House

The quiet roads beyond Coolure House led on to the back entrance to Tullynally Castle. The farm road climbed past some beautiful old stone farm buildings and cottages, then the walled garden and on to the castle. There was a stop for lunch in the car park outside the castle courtyard.


                                           Tullynally Castle


                      Leaving Tulynally





 After lunch the walk continued through corn fields past Castlepollard and skirted Kinturk Hill before climbing to the ruins of the Viking fort on the summit of Randoon Hill with its magnificent views over Lough Lene and much of County Westmeath.

There was one final hill to be climbed in Moortown with more magnificent views from the ancient mounds on its summit.

                                      Lough Lene from Moortown

It was all downhill from there to the road and right into Fore for a very well-deserved cup of tea back in Jane’s Coffee Shop. Some of the walkers met later in the Hotel Castlepollard for a meal to round off the weekend.

The Ramblers have many people to thank for the weekend’s success: walk leaders Alice Nerney and Joe Masterson on Friday, Joe again on Saturday and Frank Higgins with John Higgins and members of John’s family on Sunday. Thank you to Thomas Pakenham, Octavia and the staff of the castle Tea Shop at Tullynally on Friday. Thanks also to the Hotel Castlepollard for the tea and scones before Saturday’s walk and to Jane O’Reilly who provided refreshments for all on Sunday. The Ramblers President Brian Nerney was always on hand with fruit and water or a lift back to base when required. Thank you to Salmon’s Coaches of Castlepollard who provided transport on Sunday. The Festival would not be possible without the cooperation of the many farmers whose land was crossed so special thanks to them. 

                                  Wild Flowers near Mullaghmeen Forest