“Six thousand years of history lie in this conifer woodland, set on a gravel ridge above the wild and ancient bog-lands of North Mayo. Explore the sacred tombs and field walls of our first farmers. Walk among the mysterious standing stones of the bronze age and sit with the brooding dark beauty of Lough Naweela. This is a unique walk through Blanemore Forest.”
As part of Heritage week in North Mayo we welcome visitors and natives alike the newly developed Blanemore Forest Walk near Moygownagh village. Join renowned archaeologist Professor Seamas Caulfield, of Ceide Fields fame, as he leads a 5km guided tour through 6,000 years of North Mayo history, on the Blanemore Forest Archaeological Walk. The event begins at 1pm with a short talk by Prof Seamas Caulfield in Daria's Learning Centre at Moygownagh village. Following a video presentation by historian Liam Alex Heffron, a bus will bring participants the short ride to Blanemore Forest where Prof Caulfield and Liam Alex Heffron will lead groups around the 5km walk. The bus returns to the centre at 4pm, with refreshments served. More info is available on eventbrite.ie. Admission is €4.50 each, €3 concession & €10 Family payable on the day.
From a recent TripAdvisor review...
Take your wellies. The walk is damp underfoot in parts, and not suitable for wheelchair access. The starting point is two miles from the main R315 along a single track road, around half of which is untarred, but an easy drive. It is Mayo - it may well rain - take a coat. Refreshments are available at Mitchell's in Moygownagh.
The walk is well way-marked with a series of information boards at points of interest - be sure to read both sides of the boards! To supplement this guidance there is a very good free app available for smartphones through which the very enthusiastic Liam Alex Heffron offers audio or video explanation of what may be seen. Mobile reception was fine for accessing the app throughout the walk.
I feel there are two distinct angles from which to approach this stroll. It offers a very pleasant nature ramble through largely coniferous woodland. There are a wide range of wild flowers to be seen, including some quite impressive orchids and bull-rushes. The other significant feature is the archaeology. North Mayo is richly furnished with megalithic remains, and this route is designed to reveal some fascinating examples. Many visitors will go to Céide Fields and view the remains of prehistoric field systems - more may be seen at Blanemore. There is a particularly pleasing example of a bronze age standing stone which marks a change of pace in the walk. Good examples of court tombs are revealed, while it is suggested that a stone alignment is associated with the winter solstice at nearby Nephin ( unfortunately not visible due to tree cover at present). The app commentary is particularly valuable in explaining these features.
Our visit was on a slowly drying afternoon following a wet morning in Late July - we didn't see a single soul. There are several benches around the route where one may enjoy the peace. It is well worth pausing at Lough Naweela, about one-third of the way round, although I suspect that on some days the midges may suggest otherwise.
This venture is still very new - I really hope that the resources are found to maintain the walk over the coming years, and that it does not vanish into the undergrowth like other local features such as the Tír Sáile sculpture trail. I'm sure there are more ancient treasures still to be revealed beneath the forest and bog.