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Walking the Clara Vale Loop in autumn 2022

Updated: Aug 9, 2023


On Tuesday October 11th 2022 we walked the lovely Clara Loop, between Rathdrum and Laragh.

We were just blessed with the lovely bright autumnal day for walking. As I drove up along the road from Rathdrum the trees on either side of the road were just a riot of colour as they were preparing to put on their annual autumnal colour show with forty shades of green, russet red and various shades of pink and brown in between.

We assembled in the Clara Vale church car park which must be one of the most idyllic settings for a church. Access is over a very narrow six arched bridge over a busy river and as you carefully navigate your way across you could imagine meeting a pony and trap coming towards you such is the narrowness and antiquity of the bridge.

We parked up in Clara school, built in 1899 but closed since 1968. It is now used as a community Hall.

In the graveyard adjoining the church there is a headstone erected in 2009 commemorating the men from the valley who fought in World War one and are buried in France

Our next stop was a visit to the St Patrick and Killian Church built in 1799 as a thatched church and has had many changes over the years but still maintains its charm and is much used for weddings while Sunday mass is said there every second Sunday.

Having respectfully made our departure we headed up the road for a steepish incline at the start of our level 2 + walk.

This was a short road walk and then we entered some of the most glorious undisturbed woodland walks you will encounter anywhere in Ireland. It is a truly wondrous place and just a mere 13000 years old standing on 250 hectares.

I noted a richness of nature, squirrels running across roads, some rare poisonous ‘fly agaric’ mushrooms which though untouchable were a delight to view and to photograph. Such was their bright red colour dotted with white you would expect some elfin creature to bounce out from under each one.

We stopped a couple of times to absorb the babbling sound of the busy Avonmore River which was in full flow due to recent rains. There was a nice strategically placed seat to sit, relax and have a rest and snack while benefitting from the healthy negative ions created by the rushing Avonmore waters that we were able to absorb into our systems by being close to them. These negative ions are a great counterbalance for all the positive ones we absorb through too much sitting around or having excess screen time.

The colourful furze bushes were delighted to show off their autumnal yellow blooms in their second annual display as we ambled along

We did a loop of over 10 Kilometres with 14000 steps through stunning forestry in this vast National Park. We did it all at an invigorating pace led by our own Anne Savage, fresh from her climb of Mt. Toubkal in Morocco, which left all the gang who participated fully refreshed and enlivened after much talking and walking.

We are so lucky to have such a rich healthy hinterland around us that we can freely use every day, and which is open 24 hours a day with no appointments necessary.

Stay healthy and keep walking

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