SWAMP WOODLAND – WITH A THREE YEAR OLD RUNNER – who does not have three legs

Nature Notebook January 12 2016


“Pick a route suitable for our buggy”, I was told. That meant it had to be flat and smooth.

From the carpark between the Queen’s Drive and Torc Waterfall we walked along the jaunting car road looking down over Muckross Lake, with a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. “Lets run Dado,” three year old Sarah was already off at a trot.

The lake level had dropped. We will be able to walk to Muckross House along the lower Park road – for the first time since mid-December.

We went up to Torc Waterfall – although the path is not suitable for the buggy. More running. The high walls to the south and west create a micro-climate in this short gorge which merits special attention to highlight the specimen European larch, Douglas fir and Scots pine as well as the rich carpets of mosses.

sarah at torcP1010309

Imagine the efforts of one of the Herbert landlords to divert Torc Waterfall so he could get at the treasure that legend said was hidden in the rock face behind the falls. It was a time when Herbert had financial difficulty. But his efforts only added to his problems. No rich cache was found.

Waters lapped on either side of the lower park road, at a point just beyond the beginning of a conifer wood. Another heavy shower could close the road again.

At the base of the Dundag headland, a favourite swimming place, it was possible to walk on a little of the sandy beach for the first time in weeks. Here the scene suggests the conifer wood, lake water and the sheer mountain backdrop associated with Switzerland and Canada.

Through arbutus woodland to the Dundag headland with its high view over the entire Muckross Lake. Out in front Devil’s Island that the boatmen say was torn from the top of Mangerton by his satanic majesty to fire at O’Donoghue over at Ross Castle.  His lack of accuracy must be some consolation.



Along the way banks of reeds that had been washed up on lakeside, road and track. The flooded road to Dinis showed we were still not finished with winter weather. Flooding at the beginning of the route along the Muckross Peninsula means the road is also blocked at three or four other points.

This is part of the Killarney swamp woodland that is regarded by European authorities as our most unique forest. An active imagination could conjure up all sorts of dangerous creatures here.  But you and I know there is nothing to fear.  Don’t we?

panorama P1010314

Sarah was still running. Any suggestion that she has three legs is entirely a creation of the camera.

On through the mix of native and introduced woods. By Muckross Abbey that is testament to a rich and bloody past captured in legend and history.  The promise of a break at Muckross House kept the three year old running.

By the time we got back to the car we were loosing light and it was getting cold.  We had been on the go for some four hours.

Frank Lewis

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