When we first discovered the Bower's Walk, I had hopes that it would lead all the way to the lake, but it didn't. Every road we tried seemed dangerous once the sidewalk ran out--narrow, no shoulders, stone walls right up against the road, and lots of traffic. Searching online yielded no results. Then, last week, we went for a walk down a road just to see what we would see, and a guy came out to talk to us. He told us that if we went to the end of that road and followed a trail through a forest, we'd come out at the lake.
Yesterday was a perfect day for exploration, so we packed our water bottles and lunches and set off over the river and through the woods to see if we could get to Lough Mask. There were a couple of different ways we could have gotten back to that road, but we chose to take the Bower's Walk again. We were surprised not to see other people out walking there because it was a lovely day. We came to the end and went back to the road we'd been on before.
|the road that starts us on our way after leaving Bower's Walk|
We reached the point where we expected to find a clear path into the woods, but we found a farm and the road curving sharply to the right, which didn't seem like the right way to go. We thought the road ended, but it doesn't--we will have to go around that rightward curve some day and see where that leads, but yesterday we were just puzzled. The guy we talked to last week had mentioned a couple of gates and there they were, but the open one was clearly part of a farm, and the other one, which was closed, had a "Beware of the Bull" sign on it. Fortunately, there was a guy there working, so we asked him if there was a trail to the lake around. He chuckled and said, "You'll have to open a few gates. You go through a farm." Bill asked if he thought it'd be OK for us to do that and he replied, "Yeah, I'll let you. I don't mind. Just close the gates behind you." Then he went on with his instructions, "You'll see a couple of places going right. Don't ever go right. Just go straight ahead on the path. It's a good 2 miles, but it's a nice walk." We thanked him and proceeded through gate number one. We went through 3 gates and found ourselves on a trail with stone walls on either side. There were cows to the left and a gloriously large collection of sheep spread out in a few different fields to the right. After a few minutes, we had empty fields on either side. Then we came to another gate. We had to push a bit to get it open, because ivy had grown up and the gate was wedged in pretty well, but we got it open and entered the forest. It was amazing.
|the cows relaxing|
|the sheep grazing|
|a sheep holiday home?|
|moss covered rocks|
We walked on through a clearing and back into the woods. In the clearing, we saw a woman with two dogs ahead, so we thought we might be getting close, since she must've entered the path from a different direction than we did. She was soon out of sight and we kept on going until we came to a T-shaped intersection. It was no longer possible to take the path forward--we had to go left or right. I asked Bill which way he wanted to go and he pointed left, so on we went. We could see the lake through the trees to our right and as we went around each curve, we wondered if we were there yet. After what seemed like a long time, we came to an opening in the trees and there we were. The lake was a bit further back in the direction we'd come and in between that and where we were standing was a landscape like nothing I'd ever seen before. There was a floor of pitted rocks and big rocks sitting on the surface. Sadly, people clearly use the spot as a party place--there was plastic garbage strewn about and evidence of fires. Someone had hauled in tire rims to use as fire pits--a couple of them were stacked off to the side and one still had charred wood piled up in it. Obviously it's not a place I'd care to go on a summer night, but on a Thursday afternoon, there was no one else there.
|Lough Mask " our the prize for the day"|
We sat for a while and I thought of the people I know who would love the spot, too. The clouds moved across the sky white and fluffy to dark and menacing. The Partry Mountains across the lake changed color as the light changed. The water rippled against the rocks. The birds swooped down to the water looking for food. The swans drifted into the grass and occasionally talked to one another. The breeze blew. The smell of seaweed came and went. We sat on our rocks.
|searching for food|