23 March 2014
A free Sunday, with a reasonably favourable weather forecast, meant we could finally look to head out somewhere, albeit for a few hours. Light showers were expected, and a steady breeze.
I toyed with the idea of going somewhere new, with new trails to explore, but the husband needed to stay relatively close to home, in order to be able to head into work to check alarms etc on fairly short notice, so we needed to stay local. I also fancied taking our ageing collie, Dee, out with us, and Knockbarron Woods presented themselves as the perfect location. It was local, it was familiar so we knew what to expect, and the layout of the loop trail meant that we were never too far from the car park at any time, should Dee show signs of not coping with the extended exercise, or worse. We had found her having a seizure in the bathroom just over a month ago, so we’ve been keeping a close eye on her ever since, but thankfully she hasn’t had another one.
Dee walks out with me locally every day, but she can get stiff and creaky in her left shoulder after longer walks, especially in colder weather. However her face would break your heart every time we head out the door with a day pack and our walking boots, and it dawns on her that she’s being left behind…again. So this time, when the others were left behind, and she was called out to join us, it was indescribably lovely to see her springing around the front yard like a puppy again, so excited to be coming out with us!
I was looking forward to revisiting Knockbarron, curious to compare how I felt during and after this time, with how I fared the last time we visited, nearly a year ago.
We parked in the correct car park this time, and reflected on why such a lovely place is not busier on a sunny Sunday. I think we saw only one other person and their dog, the whole time we were there. In a way its sad that these beautiful places are relatively under-used, but it’s also nice that it’s not a busy location too, I guess I’m hard to please
most of the time always sometimes.
Thanks to the recent storms there were lots of trees down, some of which were across the trail paths. Also lot of evidence of forest operations too, presumably clearing up a lot of the dead fall from the bad weather. At one point we lost the path completely due to machinery tracks in the mud, and felled trees, but trusting my sense of direction, and dragging up a dim memory of last time we were here, we soon picked up the correct path again.
I was overjoyed to find myself at the top of some of the steeper sections, remembering how I’d found it such hard work last time. On some of the longer slopes I recalled how often I had previously had to stop to get my breath back on the way up, yet they felt like much kinder inclines this time, with no need to stop to catch my breath or to rest fatigued legs. I was dreading a couple of sections in particular, because I remember the struggle to get up them last time, yet this time they were easy. I can’t tell you how good that felt!
Dee was having such a fun time. We let her off the lead for most of it, she really can’t dash about like she used to, and she knows it. She started off after a deer at one point, but gave up after only a few yards of a half-hearted lope. But she was so enjoying just being out and about with us, with new smells to sniff, and new places to explore. At no point did she show any sign of struggling with the distance or terrain, but she was noticeably strolling at a slower pace along for the last section.
The husband’s sharp eyesight caught this little fella as we walked out into the clearfell section, so we stepped carefully around him (her?).
I still can’t get the distance recorded by my Runkeeper tracking app to agree with the stated distance on the Loop Walk Info Board in the car park, but regardless of the correct distance, I was buoyed up to see that we were significantly quicker this time, even though we really had just enjoyed it a strolling pace. I think that what I love most about Knockbarron Woods, located just a couple of miles from Kinnity, is the variety of terrain, and the fact that whilst you’re not going up huge hills, or necessarily covering long distances; the way the trail winds up and down the esker ridge is a really great workout for your legs and lungs, in beautiful surroundings.