Photography

Lockdown

To mark the first anniversary of lockdown, I share some memories. The things we have lost. The things we miss.  We are in Level 5 since mid December. Some people are struggling to cope because they already have other challenges. For some people it is too much. It breaks my heart…

St Patrick’s Parade canceled for second year.

Travel restrictions devastated tourism and separated multinational families.

People are forced to remain within 5 km of their home, which is particularly hard on the residents living in city areas.

Lack of human contact and social interactions is the worst. I opened this old file from a charity event photo shoot and sighed. The last time I hugged a friend was at funeral in March 2020! I haven’t been out for a meal with a friend since last summer! Not that I cannot cope or anything, but sure all of this is doing an invisible damage. There are many other problems that have worsened since the pandemic began.

I have read some pandemic-themed books in the past. They turned out to be quite prophetic.

To finish on a good note: at least we have learned to appreciate a simple hug:)

Stay safe! Sending you many virtual hugs!

Facing The Wind

There have been no birds in my blog since October. I looked through my files and opened one with a note saying “for revision”, a long forgotten walk along the estuary in Tramore, Co Waterford. This place is known for its great diversity of waterfowl, gull and wader species, especially in winter months, but there is a number of songbirds residing there throughout the year. I selected some photographs and was not surprised to find that all the birds were facing the same direction. They are facing the wind. They will fly into the wind using its energy and the currents.

The same like the airplanes, these Lapwings take off and land into the wind.

All young birds must learn it.

Goldfinches,

Stonechats,

Pipits,

Dunnocks,

Linnets.

I spent hours there that day, till the golden sunset, and even after.

What I want to say is that facing the wind is an advantage. Wind is not an obstacle. Flying into the wind gives birds the lift they need, and control of flight. Birds knew this from the beginning of the World. When we face something that resists the forward motion, this might as well be the right time to fly.

February is my Blogoversary month. Thank you for your friendship and support. I love you all.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Crough Wood

Crough [crew] Wood is a strip of wooded area on both sides of the River Mahon cascading down the lower slopes of the Comeragh Mountains on its way to the Ocean. It is a tranquil place with a slightly haunted atmosphere. The walking path is comfortable, wide and smooth. For the more adventurous walkers ( and photographers) there is a wilder version of the path lower on the river bank. It is from where all the water pictures for this blog were taken.

Sound of the tumbling waters could be mistaken for voices in the dark.

I found a few videos on Youtube, but this was the only one with the nature sounds.

The river bed looks differently depending on the weather.

 

When there is no rain, the grey rocks look like crushed bones.

We get back on the main path. These witches add to the atmosphere.

It is one hour before the sunset…

Some parts of the path are dark even in the day time.

Mysterious fog began to form…

We return to the laminated message, right where our adventure had started last Halloween.

Thank you for completing the full Crotty’s circle:) You can read more about River Mahon in my Magic Road blog post.

By the way, you can walk past the tree and the message and continue to the waterfall, or return to the car park, drive back to the Mahon Bridge and get yourself a hot chocolate and fresh scone with toppings in Crough Coffee  – when it opens again…

Have a wonderful week!

Coumshingaun Lough

There are two ways to enjoy the beauty of Coumshingaun Lough, Co Waterford. One is to take a four-hour Coumshingaun loop trail, and the other is to hike straight to the shore.

On my way to the Comeragh mountains I can see what the situation is and make a change in my plans, if necessary. It seems we will be all right today. Get ready:)

The starting point is Kilclooney Wood car park on the R676. It is roughly a 40 minutes drive from Waterford city. You can also park at the opposite side of the road and at any appropriate place, just make sure you are not obstructing the road and blocking any gates.

Walking through this dark and quiet part of the forest is one of my favorites, especially on the way back.

We join a forest road and turn right.

Finally we reach the place where the communications mast disguised as a tree used to be. In this picture, you can see the satellite antennas on the fake tree. The tree was a familiar landmark and I feel sad that it is gone and the new mast is just a mast…

At the start of our ascent, the path is steep and rocky. We might forget about photography for a while and focus on breathing instead. At least it is definitely true for me. Our first landmark is a huge rock on the skyline. To get there, we follow the track uphill, then turn sharp right, then uphill until we see the rock again, this time closer. The trail is not marked, but you won’t miss the erosion created by thousands of walking boots. To preserve the surrounding vegetation, please keep to the most distinct track.

We look back.  What a view! Who can find the Lackendarra’s rock?

From here, we divide in two groups. The fit and healthy will hike to the rocky outcrop you see in the picture below, do some scramble and continue around the lake on a 4 hour loop trail.

I don’t have my own photographs from this hike. I have never put my foot on the loop trail. From here, I start sharing someone else’s materials and link them to the source. Some of the photographs can only be accessed through the links, but they are worth seeing. I chose the less-enhanced images.

This is a photograph from Reddit by user ShligoShtyle.

Coumshingaun Lake – Ireland [OC] (4656×3492)

If you plan to brave the cliff walk some day, visit a versatile  John Finn Photography blog. They have the best Walker’s Guide for the Coumshingaun cliff walk I could find, illustrated with great photography. You might find the articles from the Mountain View website very helpful too. Unfortunately, there are many misleading copy-and-paste web pages. Sometimes I have a feeling that the author is writing about something else because nothing resembles the real place. And I think a “travel writer and photographer” (allegedly working for the Lonely Planet and The Washington Post) is expected to use their own photographs for their blog, not the free Google images. At least one 😉 At least of a car park 😉

Another two photographs by Paul Hynes and Asia can be found on Google maps – I cannot share them here but they are stunning. Just click on the names.

I love this video about the Coumshingaun loop hike. Please ‘like’ and subscribe – the man is doing a great job in this difficult time.

About the pronunciation. There are two ways to spell the name of the lake. COUMSHINGAUN is the official one, and COMSHINAUN is a local name, known from the centuries ago ( information from Barry Dalby of East West Mapping). The name is pronounced like [com-shi-non] with the [shi] like in ‘ship’. It is the only pronunciation I know.

In my previous blog post I mentioned my conversation with a lone hiker, Garreth. He told me about his friend who run the 4 hour long loop trail in an hour… Visiting the Trail Runners web page left me in awe. I did more research and came across another website – Irish Mountain Running Association.  Oh my goodness, these people are real!

I share a photograph of Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner and author who run the Coumshingaun loop trail on his visit to Ireland back in 2016. I had no idea the man existed before I did my research for this blog post. Thank you, Garreth! The photograph was posted by Mr. Jurek on his Facebook page on Tuesday, 29 march 2016. What an amazing human!


Those of you who won’t run or even hike the Coumshingaun loop, stay with me and we will have a good time simply hiking to the shore.

Keep to the track, don’t try to find a shorter way. There is none.

A look back.

We are getting closer to the coum. There is a beautiful pool of water, a miniature lake.  The river bed was almost dry when the picture was taken.

Another look back.

Notice the tiny hikers to get a sense of scale.

A group of hikers on the north outcrop are finishing the loop. I want to remind you again – keep to the most distinct track.

We are nearly there. Sometimes the sky is clear, but not this time. Clouds can be dangerous when hiking the loop. Have your mobile phone charged in case you have to be rescued, and stay put until you can see your path. Accidents are not unheard of here. Even on this easy trail one can get injured.

Finally there!

The cliffs behind the lake rise vertically from the dark waters to an awe inspiring 1200 feet!

Detailed information about the rock (for the seasoned rock climbers) can be found here.

It is difficult to tell the size of the lake from this point. The cliffs are gigantic and seem to be very close. In fact, the lake is about half a mile long!

As to the lake’s depth – watch the video that was mentioned in the previous video I just shared.

So now we know that the lake is 164 ft/ 50 m deep. Thanks, guys!

I hear a sound and look up. An airplane! I wonder if the author of the Grounded video is back to work?

A little about the sounds in the coum – which is a natural amphitheatre. There is an echo. Also, if a bird crosses above, you will hear a buzz created by the feathers, a very loud sound that is difficult to describe. You might hear some bits of conversations between the hikers on the slopes. Every sound is loud and clear, but it probably depends on exact location of the speaker and the listener.

We hike a little higher to get a better view of the lake. As I already told you, we, the unfit, can have as much fun as anyone else here at the Coumshingaun lake.

Some people even swim here, but I heard that the water is very cold. In a windy day the water is constantly rippled in different directions. The lake looks alive. It is a dark lake, but not the ink black like Bay Lough I wrote about.

This is the Crotty’s horse cave and Lackendarra’s summer residence. I never made it that far.

What goes up, must come down 😉 We begin our return journey.

 

The force of gravity works in the opposite way now. It is pulling us down the slope, and we have to resist and keep our balance. The balance is quite important for me as I have a heavy camera bag on my shoulder. We take short steps sometimes walking sideways. This is a beautiful slope facing south-east, sunlit for most of the day.

We can watch sheep and birds, take pictures of the timeless hawthorn trees in no hurry now. On a sunny weekend there are many other hikers. If you enjoy solitude, choose the worst weather, like I did on my last visit when I was on my own at the lake for almost an hour.

This is a picture of an Umber-brown puffball. Nothing special about it except that it was taken in December 😉 There is also a baby puffball. I only discovered it when uploaded the picture.

A Golden waxcap, picture taken on the same hike.

Lackendarra would pick up this piece of wool and stuff it in his pillowcase.

This is the last stretch of our hike, the steep rocky path that nearly gave me a blackout on the ascent when I first visited the lake.  It is a piece of cake on the way down though. I look forward to climbing the steps and walking all the way through the wood: my car is parked at the end of the road. This walk is a lovely conclusion of a great hike we had today. I hope you watched the terrific videos and didn’t have any accidents during the hike 😉

Thank you very much for being my hiking companions!

Have a great week!