Anne Valley – Walk through the Fairy Door


Dunhill village is a home for Anne Valley Walk, a 2.5 km trail that travels from Ballyphilip bridge to Dunhill Castle. This beautiful trail through the Anne Valley was officially opened in 2013 and took a huge amount of voluntary work to complete. The blue patches on the map are the man-made ponds that transformed the area from a marshland to a comfortable walking environment. The route takes some 50 minutes to complete if you don’t want to see the castle ruins.

anne river walk

The Fairy doors are at the other end of the trail – cute and very inviting. I am sure the fairies find a shelter here on their travels, and I feel like I walk through the doors too.

fairy doors

If you have worries, there is a place to leave them. The tree stump will sort it out for you.

Annes river trail Annes river trail

This menhir stands in the pond and looks authentic. I couldn’t find any information, probably the stone was standing in the bog before the ponds were made.

high stone

I don’t know anything about these either.

high stones

This one looks mysterious, it is difficult to spot from the trail. The picture was taken in early spring before the foliage obstructed the view.

annes river

Anne River is gurgling under the bridge, reflecting the sky.

anne river

In the late afternoon, the sun makes everything look golden, and the air is filled with musty fragrance of golden gorse.

annes river

Flora of the marshlands is still present. Birds use the silky seed hairs of Reedmace (Cattail) for lining their nests.

I have seen most of these birds. Best time for bird-watching is early morning, before the dog walkers scare them away. I have read that there is a kingfisher living somewhere. I hope he is. Of the mammals, I saw an otter one evening.

Swans, herons and egrets are the biggest birds seen around Anne River.


This photograph looks funny and I am not sure if I should have posted it. Because of the darker feathers on his chest, the heron looks like a sticker cut off with scissors and glued to the picture. It is the same heron. Two photographs were taken within just a few seconds.


European robin is one of my favorite birdies. This one was very friendly and sang me a song.



I wonder if this is the same bird.


anne river

I met these ducks just minutes before a tragedy struck their family. Have a closer look. Some ducklings are light-grey and have big, round heads like their mama, and the others are dark brown and have a dark stripe across the eye. The brown ones look like Mallards, but the grey ones are different. Anyway, twelve ducklings had hatched, but the day I took the picture there were just seven.  They were picking on something in the grass, and their mama was watching.


I took some pictures and walked away. After a moment I heard a duck quacking in distress, then came a loud splash, and then, with loud quacking and splashing and wing flapping, the ducklings run in the water towards me. Little legs got tired very quickly and they finally stopped running and swam – it is when I took this picture. They didn’t make any sound, but swam very fast.


Mama duck started quacking again, and the ducklings quickly ran past me. The darker ones seemed stronger and the lighter ones were left behind. Tall weeds didn’t let me see what was happening, but I ran behind the ducklings to the bridge. Finally mama duck flew past me too, quacking like crazy. From the bridge I saw them all gather together, mama duck still quacking. I counted the ducklings – there were six. One didn’t make it. The ducks swiftly swam away but I was still standing and waiting for that one. He never showed up. Anne River has her dark secrets.


These strings of Water crowfoot plant look like something woven by river Nymphs. White flowers seem fluorescent under the dark canopy.

anne river

A river doesn’t have to be deep and wide to be beautiful and important.

anne river

I will write more about Anne River and Dunhill in my next two posts. Thank you so much for taking a walk with me.  More adventures to follow.

inese_mj_photography Have an amazing weekend!



  1. What an enchanting post — complete with a charming cottage and little fairy doors! I enjoyed walking your woods and seeing those robin birds who wear the red as masks. Our robins here wear red on their chests. Fascinating! I learned something new again. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! If you put a fairy door in your home, there is a good chance you invite a fairy to share your place with you. Many of them are looking for a home.

      1. I love stopping by! I’m going to make a fairy door 🙂 Fun!! Thanks for the idea 😀 I hope they don’t mind a scary home — haha! I’m kidding. Kinda!

            1. I am delighted you are inspired by my post 🙂 I have another two posts about Anne River on my schedule, and then comes a post about a hawthorn fairy 🙂

      1. I would think the “mechanism” is similar to catholic confession or freudian therapy: “externalize” what is gnawing at you from the inside. (How’s your daughter’s pregnancy going? All fine?)

        1. The worry tree is a special technique to analyze your worries. It is a series of questions you have to ask yourself and move on. What I like about this tree stump is that I don’t have to analyze anything but just drop my worries off my shoulders 🙂
          So far we are doing all right in our circumstances 🙂 How is the little King of the House doing?

          1. It is a good technique. The little King (Or Chhota Sahib in Hindustani) is ding well. Putting on weight, which is good ‘coz he was at 5 lbs or sthg. His parent are walking zombies, as he eats every 3hours on the clock. 😉 Have a lovely week-end.

      1. A nice walk no doubt. If there is no rain. My recollection of Dublin and surroundings, ages and ages ago was a) very green b) very damp (More than Brittany) c) Bl..dy cold! 🙂 d) Lovely, lovely, lovely…

  2. Great post. Loved that first building at the top, the glassy rapids running through the rocks and the Worry Tree….loved the Worry Tree.

    1. Thank you for stopping by! I put my hand on that tree stump with some sense of embarrassment – I even looked around to make sure no one saw me 🙂 And you know what – since that time I worry less. Honestly.

    1. Thank you! I was trying to get rid of that chromatic aberration using your tip, but some patches didn’t go away, so I let them be 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Jean. It is close to the Old Tramore Road. There are two car parks on both ends of the trail – one near the bridge at the foot of the Dunhill castle, and the other in Dunhill village on the stretch of the road between the Harney’s pub and Ecopark.

    1. Sheri, thank you so much for your kind comment! There is so much evil in the world, so I want to share something tranquil and gentle. Hope you both are well, enjoying the summer. I am busy with everything, as usual 🙂 Wishing you a peaceful week!

  3. A beautiful post as I have come to expect when I open your blog. I sure could use one of those worry trees and you had my heart racing with the wee little ducks.

  4. Beautiful photos of a gorgeous place. I love the standing stones and the fairy doors are so sweet! The cycles of life are always hard to witness, especially when the prey is a cute little duckling.Great post. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! This place has a very personal touch because of all these hidden fairy doors visitors are supposed to find. The ducklings have lost six siblings, and who knows how many more will disappear in the waters of Anne River – the otter family have their young too…

    1. Thank you! 🙂 The heron picture looks a bit strange because he just took off and moved quite slowly – there is no motion blur yet, and he looks like a sticker on that background 🙂 I posted it only because of the sharp focus, and because I didn’t get any better picture that day 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, this was a chunk of boggy wasteland before. The visitors only use the path – it is forbidden to leave the route and let the dogs off leash. Water was always there, but now it is ‘organised’ in the string of ponds alongside the stream. There is room for both humans and wildlife 🙂

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Yes, all who are bigger than poor duckling, don’t miss their chance. Otter, seagull, kestrel, heron would snack on them. Such is life.

        1. Yes, and sure it is the plan 🙂 Ducks would destroy the ecosystem if left uncontrolled. But the ducklings were so sweet… especially I loved the big-headed ones, the one of whom had perished 😦

    1. Thank you so much, Andrea! Yes, half of them gone, but they are growing and getting stronger. They might leave the place for a safer and bigger waters.

  5. Ms inese, loved the European Robin photographs! And of course the ducks. Thank you for a wonderful tour! This is an Awesome post!

  6. Lovely walk through the Anne valley! Sorry to hear about the ducklings – that’s just nature I’m afraid.

    1. Thank you for walking with me. I intended to walk to the ocean – it will take another two blog posts. Poor duckling – I think an otter or a rat ate him. Such is life. I walked back but didn’t see any blood or something – must be taken to a burrow, to feed the young.

    1. Thank you so much! The place is magical, and full of secrets, actually. There are many hidden treasures made by the young students for the visitors to find – like these fairy doors. Some secrets are hidden deep in water. Hint: I have seen a pair of otters in the pond.

  7. There are so many bloggers with cameras, sharing what they see, but I find your “walks” stand a cut above the rest, because you “see” with a vision greater than the eye. The story of the ducklings, the flowers woven by river nymphs and the statement that a river need not be wide or deep to be beautiful and important, are cases in point. You give us things to think upon. From the very first, I kept asking myself: who was the Anne after whom this beautiful place was named? I look forward to the sequel(s).

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Cynthia. I don’t know who was the Anne… Three tiny streams flow together and create a slightly bigger stream – it is Anne River as I know it. I have read that it was much deeper and wider back in the days. It could be that “Anne” is not Anne at all but an English version of some Irish word.

  8. Beautiful photos, Inese. I love the running water and the birds and the golden sunlight. The “worry stump” is awesome. I used to work with grieving kids and we sure could have used one of those. A magical place indeed. 😀

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Diana! This place is quite new, and created by the efforts of community and other volunteers. Probably it is why everything there radiates happiness and contentment.

  9. I really like the Fairy doors. That is such a cute idea. You are right that they are so inviting. They make me want to slowly open the door and look for fairies inside. I would definitely place my hand on the “worry tree”.

    A lovely post about Anne Valley. The story about the ducklings is a bit exiting and a little sad. The place has its darkness for sure.

    1. Thank you so much for your visit! Anne valley is a delightful place indeed, and I love all this magic – the doors and many other things. Glad you like them too 🙂

  10. Your pictures are beautiful and important you know because they aren’t just photographs, they are a window on the world. I loved the ones of the robin and the daisies especially. I always find that robins…in the wilds…are the friendliest wee birds and I smiled that you seemed to think so too. The idea of the worry tree is brilliant. And what a beautiful place Dunhill Village is. Lovely lovely, post Inese.

    1. Thank you so much for taking a walk through the Anne Valley with me 🙂 I love robins for their friendliness – they let me come close and I enjoy watching them. Thank you again!

      1. Thank you for taking that walk…You had me at walk in this post. The last time I was in Glencoe and I finished up with the Lochan I had some bread for the ducks there This lovely wee robin flew right onto the branch where I was standing. I thought now way would it be so tame but it took the bread I put down for it. We have one comes to our garden that isn’t nearly so brave.

        1. Isn’t it amazing that such a tiny bird is so brave. I have noticed that they don’t mind eye contact, but when I take out my camera and look in the viewfinder thus covering my face, they won’t stay long. And you are right! Robins in the backyard are not as brave. Probably they have been chased a lot or something.

    2. They probably have been chased But the blackbirds by comparison now pick up the crumbs while I am out there gardening. They must just be different that way. I could not get over that robin that day. It was like along lost pal. I thought with living in the wilds it would shun people. But no. He won by chunks of bread hands down.

      1. I wish we knew more about the other inhabitants of our planet. Like, would be able to communicate with them. I know that food is a common language for all species 🙂

  11. Well, you will need to put your concern for the duckling in one of those fairy doors and the trees will take care of you. I love the fairy doors! What a lovely place~

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Cindy! Have to live with that concern – The Nature knows better. But I have to confess – I did put my palm in the shape – one never knows 🙂

  12. The worry tree is a wonderful idea, although I can see somebody who suffers from anxiety, getting in a stress if their hand doesn’t fit any of the hand-shapes!
    I have a robin in my garden who sits in the same tree every evening and sings his little heart out. It is such a huge and beautiful sound for one tiny bird. Even my dog sits for ages in the middle of the lawn listening to him.
    That poor mother duck losing her ducklings like that. Nature can be very cruel, for all its wonder.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Sarah! The robins are brilliant singers indeed, and not shy. My bird pictures are mostly of robins because they let me come close. Even your dog loves their songs 🙂 Amazing!
      Thank you again, come over next week for more Anne River adventures.

  13. Every time I read your posts about Ireland and the gorgeous countryside there, it makes me more determined to head back there for a week or two next year. We loved the area around Cashel the last time we went, and I’ll make a note of where all these places you post about are located.I wish we weren’t already so’ booked up’ for this year!
    The European robin is such a lovely bird, and can be so friendly (or perhaps just bold). I’ve seen photos of them eating off people’s hands. Your photos of one really are stunning. Strange about the disappearing ducklings. Perhaps some predator is lurking, waiting for Mama to turn her back.
    Thank you for a most enjoyable walk through Anne Valley. It really does look a magical place.

    1. Thank you so much, Millie! I have a post about Cashel on my list 🙂 Probably will go there in July for a shoot with a model, and of course will take a few pictures of the Rock of Cashel on my way. I have to do a research on Cashel to see what else is there of interest.

      1. I loved the Cashel area, but we spent most of our time travelling out to other places, too. The early September weather was lovely and the countryside was perfect. Next year, Ireland is a must!

  14. (Aww.. I’m sad about the seventh duckling…) Dear Inese, another lovely post. The colors you captured this time really attracted my eye, making me soak up the images. The birds of course are lovely. Thank you for taking us along with you on this lovely nature walk. Mega hugs!

    1. Thank you so much, Teagan! This little stream makes a difference in the area. Thank you for walking alongside and enjoying the colors of summer. Many hugs! xx

  15. You truly live in a fairy tale world Inese ~ brought to life with your words and your incredible photos. What an incredible place you have found in Anne Valley. You’ve captured the spirit of the place so well.

  16. Beautiful shots, as always, Inese!! 🙂 Love the robins, too, but unfortunately for me they´re so shy that I seldom get to see them 😉 It´s so sad what happened to the ducklings 😦 I watched something similar last year but with swans. The couple had six little ones and everytime I went for a walk, one of them was missing 😦 I nearly dreaded to go for my next walk! In the end only two survived, it´s most likely that a fox got the others, but I´m not sure and in any case I wouldn´t blame him, ´cause it´s his nature and it was the first hatch for the swans so they were very unexperienced. This year I´v only spotted three little ones so far – hope they´ll be more lucky! Wish you a beautiful weekend!!! Sarah 🙂 xoxo ❤

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah! Yes, these are tragedies but such is life, and animals have to eat something too. This time it was either an Otter or a Water rat. You know how it is – if all the birds survived, there won’t be enough food for them all next year. Balance. (sigh)

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