Why North Tipperary: A Walkers Paradise 2

Puckane CottagesPuckane Cottages
Hello again and welcome back to Why North Tipperary – our weekly look at why we think it would be a good idea for you to visit North Tipperary, or for our locals to enjoy our local community even more. This past two weeks I have been looking at the many different trails around North Tipperary, and I hope you are enjoying this and that you might even give it a turn.
HurlingAncient Game of Hurling
Birchhill Loop:
The beautiful village of Upperchurch is located not far from the town of Thurles on the side of the Silvermines mountain range. This quaint village is twinned with their neighbouring parish of Drombane with regards many mutual aspects, including the Great Gaelic game of Hurling. Hillwalking is hugely important to this area and the locals strive greatly to promote the local tourism through hillwalking. The local loop begins in the town of Thurles and proceeds along the R498 road towards Nenagh. Follow this roadway until you get to a junction for the R503 (signposted Limerick) and continue along this path onto Dempsey’s pub. At this point you are just 2km from Upperchurch, but all this information can be picked up at the local tourism office, or online here. Along this loop you will encounter a crossroads with a stone nameplate, a Blessed Well, an old church and graveyard, you will walk through some dense local forestry and other local landmarks. Please enjoy!
Slievedaragh HillsSlieveardagh Hills
Loch Dhoire Bhile Loop:
The Loch Dhoire Bhile Loop is all about the development of a heritage, angling and conservation community. Nestling under the Slieveardagh Hills is an ideal location for sanctuary for a large selection of wildlife that includes birds (lapwing and fieldfare), whooper swans, ducks (teal, mallard, pintail) and wild geese. There has been constructed upon 70 acres, which was previously owned by Bord na Mona, a lake, two wetlands and a wildlife sanctuary. With regards this loop, from Thurles, take the N62 south for about 6km. Take a left at the crossroads, following signs for Littleton. You will take the R639 for a short period, before turning right in Littleton towards the village of New Birmingham. The trailhead is signposted approximately 4.5km from Littleton or 3.5km from New Birmingham.
View from the Devils BitView from the Devils Bit
Devil’s Bit Loop:
There is a legend in North Tipperary that not only did the devil took a bite out of the mountain that is now know as the Devils Bit, but the demon hurled the chunk across the countryside where it then landed at the spot which is now know as the Rock of Cashel – scientists have since shown that the same grain of rock that is found in the Devil’s Bit mountain is also found in the Rock of Cashel. Anyway, what locals will honestly tel you is that the view from the Devils Bit Mountain (478m) provides a view of the surrounding eight counties. Along this loop the walker will encounter plenty of forestry, some dizzy hillside paths and a plethora of majestic views. Coming from Templemore, follow the R501 in the direction of Nenagh and Borrisoleigh. After approximately 3km, there is a right turn signposted for Devil’s Bit. Continue to follow the signs on minor roads until you reach the trail-head. Again, you can find out all necessary information at a local tourism office, or online right here.
Slieve FelimSlieve Felim
Slieve Felim Way:
Now for those who love an ol’ long walk – a good stretch of the ol’ legs, there is the Slieve Felim Way to challenge you. this walkway stretches from Murroe in County Limerick to SIlvermines village in North Tipperary, which is a distance of approximately 44 km. Along the route there are the views from many different mountains and miles upon miles of rugged, wonderful and stunning scenery. This walkway commences with the Slieve Felim range to the south, valleys and hills run east-west in the general area. The 2,279 ft (694m)-high Keeper Hill – the highest mountain in the Shannon Region – comes into view as you move northwards through the Mauher Slieve Hills, which predominately lie to the east of the walk. The northern section is dominated by the renowned Silvermines Mountains and presents stunning views of Lough Derg and beyond. From different vantage points along the way, views of 4 counties are possible – Tipperary, Limerick , Clare, and Offaly – and you can also see sections of the lordly River Shannon as it winds its way to the sea. Although the trail is signposted in either direction, it is generally agreed that the starting point from Murroe and walking towards Silvermines offers the most rewarding experience. All information can be sourced at the Shannon Regions Trail here.
Clare GlensClare Glens
Clare Glens Loop Walks:
The scenery of the Clare Glens is regularly described by visitors as simply breath-taking. The Clare Glens is a wooded area situated along the North Tipperary – Limerick border. It consists of a wild dense forest, which is combined with the calm rushing of crystal clear waters. The Glen also consists of a picturesque sandstone gorge through which the Clare river flows, while there are a number of waterfalls that are dotted along the landscape. Directions to the trail-head begin from the village of Murroe on the R506 between Limerick City and Cappamore. Follow the signs for Clare Glens which take you north out of Murroe. Follow this road for approximately 5km to reach the trailhead at a car parking area on your left. Both loops
start and finish here. [Note: The trailhead is signposted from Murroe].
Lough DergLough Derg Scene
Lough Derg Way:
The Lough Derg Way is a spectacular linear route that stretches from Limerick City, to Killaloe/Ballina (26km) and from Killaloe/Ballina to Dromineer (43km). The route is located along the banks of the River Shannon, the old Shannon navigational canal and the eastern shores of Lough Derg. The terrain is a mix of riverbank, canalbank, forest track, open countryside, old roadway and minor road. The Lough Derg Way explores some of the fascinating heritage of the old Limerick Navigation system and showcases some of the finest scenery around Lough Derg. There are five different key trail-heads which provide information map boards and car-parking. These are situated reasonably close to necessary facilities such as shops, accommodation, restaurants and public transport. These trail-heads are situated as follows:
  1. Limerick City (Limerick City Tourism Office, Arthur’s Quay)
  2. Clonlara, County Clare (Centre of VIllage)
  3. Killaloe, County Clare & Ballina, County Tipperary (Information Maps on both sides of the river and a tourism office on the Killaloe side)
  4. Garrykennedy, County Tipperary (Village Marina)
  5. Dromineer, County Tipperary (Centre of Village)
Masked BallNenagh Silent Film Festival Masked Ball
And, sure that’s all for this week. Now I know there are a number of other walkways scattered throughout North Tipperary, but sure why don’t you come and try and find them yourself and then lose yourself in North Tipperary.  It’s always a good time to visit North Tipperary, but next February around Valentine’s Day maybe a perfect opportunity for you to take in some of the many trails of North Tipperary during the day, and some of the Second Nenagh Silent Film Festival during the evening. Till next week then!
Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee
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Why North Tipperary – A Walker’s Paradise

English: Waymarking sign, comprising an image ...

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

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 LeinstermenGraves 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 surrou...

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.
Knochnaroe ViewKnockanroe 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

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 LoopBallyhourigan 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

English: Upperchurch, County Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eamonn A Chnoic Loop:

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 Ludram...

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