English: Waymarking sign, comprising an image of a walking man and a directional arrow in yellow, used in Ireland to denote a National Waymarked Trail. The design was copied from the symbol used to waymark the Ulster Way in Northern Ireland and has since become the standard waymarking image used for long-distance trails in the Republic of Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello and welcome to this week’s Why North Tipperary, whereby this week, and for the next two weeks we are going to look at the different walking trails around North Tipperary. I have used several sources to accumulate these including Shannon Region Trails, Irish Trails and Trip Visor, so I hope you enjoy viewing some more very good reasons to visit North Tipperary.
English: Lough Derg, West Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Slí Eala (the Way of the Swan):
This walk is a National Linear Walk and it is marked out with green arrows. It begins at the beautiful lakeside village of Dromineer along the shores of Lough Derg and following the banks of the Nenagh river to Scott’s Bridge, which is situated 2.5km from the centre of Nenagh town. The length is just over six and a half miles, which can take up to three hours, however, along the way there is an abundant of wildlife including the Mute Swan, Ireland’s largest indigenous bird, which gives the walk its name.
Graves of the Leinstermen
Graves of the Leinstermen:
A local tradition states that it is here at the Graves of the Leinstemen that the soldiers of Leinster and their King met their deaths at the hands of Brian Boru’s forces around the year 1000AD. The legend states that the Leinster King had requested to be buried within sight of the Leinster Kingdom and so his followers then placed his body under the ancient stading stones at this spot. This is a walking loop that is 6km in length, which starts at the Graves of the Leinstermen, and moves through the countryside, before turning into the Arra Mountains; the walk continues to the summit, which is called Tountinna, where some spectacular views of Lough Derg and the surrounding countryside are laid out in the canvas of a masterpiece. The walk descends then very quickly and steeply to the trail-head.
English: Panorama view on Tipperary and surroundings, and at the horizon the Silvermines Mountains. Nederlands: Panoramafoto van Tipperary en omgeving, in de verte de Silvermines Mountains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop:
This is a wonderful walk through a section of the Silvermines Mountains, which is aptly called the Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop, since it brings the walker along the old mass paths leading to the church of Kilcommon village. It traverses a number of small minor roadways, forestry paths and it takes in the beauty of the Golden Vale countryside, as well as the lower slopes of Mauherslieve Mountain and open hillside. From this walkway there are some amazing views of County Tipperary and of County Limerick.
Knockanroe Wood Loop View
Knockanroe Wood Loop:
The Knockanroe Wood Loop is almost three miles in length and it takes in another section of the Silvermines Mountain range, around the village of Silvermines itself. This looped walkway itself explores the Coolyhorney area and it overlaps with the Slieve Felim Way for a short while. Historically, Silvermines village is very important to the area, where the mining of lead, sinc, copper, sulphide and barities have occurred since Roman times, while the highest point in North Tipperary is situated nearby – the top of the mast that is on top of Keeper Hill!
The Golden Vale in winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Grange Crag Loop:
Both the Crag and the Grange Loops take the same initial routes from the village of Grange. The Crag route though diverges to the left following the turn after the ‘icehouse’. Walkers are then taken up through the mixed forest to the Wellington Monument folly, which is at the summit of Crag Hill. Again, there are some amazing views from some this walk’s highest points at the top of the Slieveardagh Hills of the Kilcooley estate, the central plains of Tipperary and the Golden Vale, and also the hills of the bordering counties of Laois, Cork, Limerick and others. The walk continues along a marked forest path and a winding ridge to view some of the local natural environment of ancient woodlands and flowing streams, before Crag Loop rejoins Grange Loop and circles back to the village of Grange.
Ballyhourigan Woods Loop
Ballyhourigan Woods Loop:
Now, as previously mentioned, Keeper Hill is the highest point in North Tipperary, and of course there is also a couple of walks connected to this natural landmark. The Ballyhourigan Woods Loop is just over five and a half miles in length and it begins at the village of Toor, which is situated near the townland of Newport. This loop follows a woodland trail and forestry track in an ascent through Aherlow Nature Park and Ballinacourty Woods. The walkway traverses the southern shoulder of Slievenamuck, which offers the walker some magnificent views of the Galtee Mountains. Whilst walking through Ballyhourigan Woods, approximately 3km into the trek, there is an option to turn onto the Keeper Hill Trail which will take the walker up to the summit, however, if you continue along by the loop, you will eventually travel towards the village of Boolatin, before you eventually regain the trail-head. It is said that on a clear day that nine counties can be viewed from the top of Keeper Hill, so why not go for the long Keeper Trail and see how many you can spot!
English: Upperchurch, County Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And last, but not least for this week’s Walker’s Trail, the Eamonn A Chnoic Loop, or the Ned of the Hill Loop. This loop is located around the village of Upperchurch and it gets its name from a local character of the 17th/18th century who was a local Robin Hood figure. The story goes that the English took his family’s vast land, but the young Eamonn was sent to France to enter the priesthood, however he returned to his homeland and soon got into trouble by shooting a tax collector. He then had to go on the run, but he didn’t hide and instead Ned of the Hill became one of a number of rapparees, who championed the cause of the poor by harassing the English Planters. Anyway, this walkway begins in Upperchurch village and continues through a wide range of fields and small lane-ways, while it also passes along the long forest boundaries, with the wild sounds of nature filling the air and singing through the mountain breezes. There are a number of tremendous views of the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns, Galtees, Sleabh na mBán and the Devil’s Bit. This is one wonderful walk you won’t want to miss out on.
Photo of Lough Derg taken on 6/03/05 by Ludraman with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P9. Edited mercilessly afterwards in iPhoto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well I hope you enjoyed that, and just to let you know that I’ll be back next week with the second part of my look at the many, many, picturesque nature-walks through North Tipperary. There is some amazing scenery in our midst, so why not come along and take in the sights and sounds of North Tipperary!
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Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee