Slippery when frozen!

Golden Grove Woods – Glasderry Wood – Golden Grove Woods
18th January 2015

Golden Grove woods, near Roscrea (also, confusingly called Orange Wood Hill by Coillte) is somewhere I’ve brought the dogs to for walks on numerous occasions in the past, including one interesting bikejoring session involving Dolly and Dee, 2 bicycles, too much speed, loose gravel, a lack of brakes and a lot of swearing (mostly at ourselves, occasionally at loose dogs, but definitely not at our own dogs!).  We concluded on that occasion, that due to the popularity of the place, resulting in the high number of loose dogs running about, it is not really a very suitable bikejoring location, unless you go very early in the morning, before all the locals bring their dogs out. What can I say, we were relatively new to the sport in those days, and now choose our bikejoring locations with a lot more care, knowledge and forethought.

The woods themselves are described on the Coillte Outdoors website as “part of an old woodland site […] reputed to be the site where the last act of cannibalism took place in this country, hence the name Cnoc na Meas or the Hill of the Banquet.” And despite the popularity of the area, it is (nearly) always an enjoyable and peaceful walk (except when hooligans <blush> are racing through the woods on bicycles being pulled at speed by dogs!).  In the spring the bluebells take over, and it truly looks like a blue carpet has been laid down all through out the wooded area.

We hadn’t really had much chance to get out for a decent long walk in a good while, and whilst Golden Grove offers a pleasant, but short, loop walk, involving forest tracks and local lanes, I wanted a little more than that.  I wanted a good leg-stretcher, so we decided to extend the well-used loop, by diverting to Glasderry Woods halfway around.  I was told of a farm track that would bring you out to the road that led to Glasderry Woods, and a quick look at the OSI Discovery Map No 53 confirmed the existence of the farm track.

It was a bitterly cold day, we had woken up to a crisp white hoar frost.  However, the sun was out and the breeze was slight.  It was a beautiful day for a walk.  From the car park we set off downhill on the road, turning right onto a gravel track a the top of the first rise.  At the end of this gravel track you would usually turn right, along a lone, which would bring you along to the entrance barrier at the top of the woods, with the final section of the unofficial loop bringing you gently down to the car park through the lovely old woodlands.  However, this time, once the gravel track brought us to the lane at the end, we went straight ahead, onto a muddier farm track, which would eventually bring us onto the lanes near Glasderry Woods.

The lanes brought us through mainly uninspiring flat farmland.  Perhaps that’s a little ungenerous.  Flat farmland, is…well it’s flat farmland.  Fields, hedges, barns, flat.  This is not a walk route to give you breathtaking views across the Irish countryside, or hill ascent personal challenges, but by combining Golden Grove with Glasderry Woods, you get a pleasant walk covering a respectable distance, and a picnic area at around the halfway point if you’re so inclined. You get a lake to walk around, and a lovely woodlands stroll to finish off your outing.  Perhaps many people like walking on rural lanes, with hedges you can’t see over, but I found myself checking my map on more than one occasion, sure that we’d ended up on the wrong road, because the lanes seemed endless and I was getting bored. I did chuckle when we passed a tumble-down cottage, with a toilet roll sitting on the windowsill.  I didn’t even want to think about why it might be there, but it had clearly been there a long time, as the ivy was beginning to grow over it.  Fortunately Poison Ivy doesn’t grow in Ireland, so if you are caught short, this toilet roll will still be perfectly safe to use, if a little damp!

Ivy loo rollAfter what felt like a hundred miles of lanes and hedges, we arrived at the car park entrance to Glasderry Woods.  For some reason Coillte has closed the car park to vehicles, but a couple of cars were parked in the entrance way, and we could hear a dog bark by the lake, so we carefully picked our way across the cattle grid, and went into the woods.  Glasderry Woods is home to Lough Roe, also known as Gloster Pond, or even Glasderry Pond (why do these places often have more than one name? #confusing ).  The lake (as I shall refer to it from know on) is an artificial lake and, according to the Coillte Outdoors website, was “created for the [nearby] estate to ensure a plentiful supply of water for the domestic needs, the gardens and recreational needs of the Lloyd family who lived in nearby Gloster House“.  When I first came here with my dogs many years ago it wasn’t easy to walk all the way around the lake, unless you had thigh waders, a long stick to test the depth of the sticky mud and exceptional balance (perhaps aided by your long stick?) so that you didn’t fall into the aforementioned mud after you’d lost one of your boots in the mud suck (yes, I was that woman!).  However, since then a lot of work has been done, presumably by Coillte, to make the worst sections of the path on the far-side of the lake much more walker-friendly, with a bridge and hard-packed gravel pathways.  Some recent work in controlling the invasion of rhododendrons was evident too.

The lake was still frozen solid, so with much childish giggling, we spent a short while skipping pebbles across the frozen surface of the lake, and delighting in the singing and twittering sounds that the ice rewarded us with.

There are several interesting features in and around Glasderry Woods.  and I really would love to know more about both the history of the place, the estate it served and also about the various stone features (bridges, walls etc) you come across as you walk around.  I couldn’t see any evidence of maintenance works being done to the car park area, so I don’t why the car park would be closed?  I hope it is opened again soon as I’ve always found Glasderry Woods to be a peaceful place to bring the dogs, bring a picnic, and just chill out for a while down by the lake.

The downside to Glasderry Woods is that it doesn’t take very long to walk all the way around, and all too soon we were back on the lanes heading back towards Golden Grove.  To add a little excitement to our return journey Dolly slipped badly on a frozen puddle as she jumped back on to the road from a hedge bank. We didn’t see exactly what she did, but it resulted in a very lame dog who hobbled slowly the rest of the way back to the car.  No obvious injury or cuts, so we concluded it must be a twist or sprain.  We did attempt to carry her, not wanting her to limp all the way home, but she’s very heavy and didn’t take too kindly to being carried.  We weighed up whether one of us should stay here with her, whilst the other went to fetch the car, or whether we should just press on.  We decided to carry on and see how she was.  Trying to keep a sore dog warm, whilst waiting on the side of the road on such a bitterly cold day was going to be a last resort.  She was happy to keep moving, albeit a little more slowly.  Then, perhaps in sympathy with Dolly, I also slipped on an icy bit of road surface.  At the time it didn’t feel too bad, my hip felt a little sore and twisted, but I was still mobile and felt able to carry on.  In hindsight I think Dolly and I should have just stayed there as previously planned, whilst the husband went to get the car and come to our rescue. I was unable to stand up or walk about by bed time that evening, and Dolly just curled up in her bed, looking miserable, for the rest of the day!  However, we pressed on, Dolly and I on 3 paws and 1 leg, with the husband trying to ignore the grumbling of his increasingly sore wife; and all our spirits lifted as we came to the final section of the walk, down through Golden Grove woods.

According to Runkeeper, the entire circuit was 6.2 miles (although those lanes make it feel much longer!), which is almost exactly 10km.  I made a mental note that it would be a very handy 10km loop if you were training to run a 10k race…I hasten to add that is not something I’ll be doing any time soon!

Dolly was absolutely right as rain after a couple of days of rest.  It’s taken me a while longer, and my hip is still sore 😦  My brother-in-law gave me a pair of slip-on ice grippers for Christmas…perhaps I should have worn them!  I wonder if they make something similar for dogs?

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