The Templeport Development Association in co-operation with Coillte Outdoors have opened a new forest recreation walk starting about a kilometre north west of Bawnboy village on the way to Brackley Lake.
The walk is 5 kilometres long and climbs 130 metres. It will take approximately an hour and a half and allows great views of Brakley Lake and surrounding countryside. Below is a map of the walk showing its location. Photographs of the opening ceremony are here.
On a crisp March day my walking companion and I drove to Bawnboy to try out the new Bawnboy Loop. The car parking was ample and being along a busy road we were happy that it was secure. The helpful map at the roadside told us everything we wanted to know, length about 5 km, an hour and a half to complete, of moderate difficulty and with an initial climb to 130 metres. At our age we converted that to feet - about 425 ft. To our ageing legs it felt like more than that. The map told us our return would be downhill. It's always a bonus to get the climbing done at the beginning. Our walking surface was gravel and the few potholes had very recently been filled. Sensible footwear would be recommended, rather than heavy or strong.
We were straight into the hill, past Paddy's Murphy's Fattening Field and climbing steeply. The very steepest part is in the first kilometre. After that it's still a haul, but manageable. It would not be easy to push a child's buggy and more difficult still a wheelchair. And not a start for those with a shortness of breath or a mobility problem.
We admired the wonderfully healthy holly and the whins just sprouting their new golden blossoms. We paused to catch our breath and to look back at the village below, the football park and the first lake in view, Bellaboy. Above us in the distance the huge wind turbines turned slowly and noiselessly. Looking back a little later we could now see Templeport Lake, site of St. Mogue's Island.
When we came to the start of the loop the path levelled off and from here onwards it was mostly downhill. We were expecting to find a marked viewing spot with a seat, or even a picnic table. But it turns out you choose your own viewing area and there is a complete absence of seats, so we had our Thermos coffees standing up. The view of nearby Brackley Lake is somewhat restricted by the trees but in the distance Corlough looks great, and nearer at hand Tiernawanagh, Erreran and Kilsob stand out in their greenness.
The walk could be described as pleasant rather than spectacular. While it is through a dense wood the trees do not press in on you. Rather the path is quite open. There are one or two places with an unprotected drop at the edge, so if you have children with you, keep them near you. Bring water with you and something to bite on. You'll be glad you did this walk. West Cavan is fortunate to have the Bawnboy Loop.