Monday, 2 April 2018

Monsters, Myths, Mystical Mountains and Magnificent hospitality

The 25th North Leitrim Glens Hill Walking festival can be deemed a complete success

The 156 walkers and guides who donned their boots on Easter Sat 2018 in Leitrim were treated to stunning views over Glenade Valley. If walkers weren't breathless from the steep climb at the start, then they certainly were by the views that awaited them when they got to the top!

Walkers with Peek a Dha in the background

Walkers at the start of Saturdays walk overlooking Glenade Lake

When walkers took a break to breathe in the scenery, they were treated to the story of the monster of Glenade Lake, the Dobharcu and where the name Glenade came from - The Glen of Jealousy. Did you know that Peek A Dha means the cows finger?

The walk route took the group from the starting point on the lower side of Glenade Lake and followed a short climb to the escarpment, taking in views of Peek a Dha, Glenade Valley and the Sligo and Donegal coastlines and finished on the beautiful little mountain of Tievebaun. Covering 12 Km the group was well ready for a lovely meal in The Bee Park Centre, Manorhamilton followed by a film at The Glens Centre. It was lovely to welcome 37 walkers from the An Oige group in Dublin.

Where humans dare - Eagles Rock, Glenade

Sunday Walk;  Arroo Mountain and Trail Head

Well, it may not be everybody's idea of how to spend an Easter Sunday but the 158 walkers who left the comfort of their duvets early on Sun morning had absolutely no regrets. The wonderful hospitality at Aghanlish Community Centre at the start and finish of the Long and Medium hill walks and the ramble was just incredible. Homemade scones, a variety of hot drinks and gluten free options meant everybody was catered for.

Gluten Free Options at Aghanlish served with a smile and a large helping of Leitrim hospitality 

Tea & treats at  registration at Aghanlish Community Centre

Easter Sunday was also the inaugural walk of the new Arroo Trail Head. This stunning walk is the result of collaboration between the local community, landowners, Leitrim Development Company, Sligo Leader, Leitrim County Council and Leitrim Recreation Forum. Ask any walker that took the trail on Sunday and they would confirm that it was all so very worth while. What better ambassador to tell people about the walk than Glenade's own Colin Regan. Colin explained the process to the group of ramblers who took the trail and his pride in his native valley was palpable.

Members of An Oige group and locals with Colin on the Arroo Trail

Iascin Lake

Colin Regan with Arroo Mountain in the background

Hot soup, homemade brown bread and sweet treats revived walkers afterwards at the former national school. The miracle of the loaves and fishes was repeated when twice as many walkers as estimated turned up but nothing was a problem to the women and men of Aghanlish Community. 

                                                        Members of the local community

Tasty treats to revive walkers

Ask any of the 150+ walkers who turned up both days what the highlight was and you'll probably get 300+ different answers. For one Swiss walker it was the absolute joy of spotting two Peregrine Falcons on Glenade Escarpment, for the co-coordinator of the Dublin An Oige group it was the softness of the border that enabled communication between their accommodation and transport company in Fermanagh with the organisers in Letirim to ensure a seamless weekend of activities and entertainment for them. For other walkers it was the personal achievement, one completing his first ever hill walk, another getting over an injury. Without exception, all were well aware of the feel good factor that a day in nature affords with benefits for body, soul and mind.

The North Leitrim Glens Hill Walking Festival is run by a dedicated group of volunteers from the Holey Soles Hill Walking Club and guides from Leitrim Landscapes Guided Walks. The support from local communities, landowners and sponsors; Trail blazers, Call of the Wild and Leitrim Co Council enable it all to happen. The guides who help from North West Mountain Rescue and Sligo Clubs keep everyone safe on the hills. The watchful eye of the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue volunteers who are on call for the festival, make everyone feel a little easier in their responsibility to guests. The fantastic and ever enthusiastic PRO Dervilla Keegan is an inspiration to all. The economic benefit that the festival brings to the area is an added bonus with accommodation, transport, restaurants and pubs benefiting from the visitors. Long may it continue. Leitrim Abu!

Thanks to Evan Sweeney, Sheila O'Keeffe, Dervilla Keegan, Noirin Clancy, Paul Keogh and Nuala McNulty for the pics