As we await a stretch in the evenings and for the weather to improve, it’s all the more important for us to snatch even a few minutes of fresh air and daylight to dispense with Winter Blues. While there’s not much Vitamin D available from the daylight we get at this time of the year, nonetheless, walking in the fresh air is really important to help our mood, as well as for our physical wellbeing.
Located just a short walk from the centre of Tubbercurry is a short urban trail which is perfect for anyone interested in walking. A looped and diverse forest walk, the Tubbercurry Trail is a set of two looped walks, the longest of which is 2km, the shorter around half of that. Access is through a gate beside the old Rathscanlon Creamery on the R294 Ballina road, near the Aurivo store.
Parking is available at the entrance to the walk, which is off-road and free of vehicles, so it’s perfect for young children as well as all members of the family. It’s also relatively flat, so it’s a great one for people who want to build their levels of fitness before taking on some more challenging walks later on. Locals recommend doing both the longer and shorter loops, and this 3km distance should be comfortably completed in around 30 minutes, so it’s ideal for people leaving work before darkness sets in or before they get to work in the morning.
I met with local residents Roger McCarrick and Geraldine Brennan to find out more about this walk, which is one of a new selection of Sligo walks available as part of our free pocket map series.
“5 or 6 years ago we started talking to Coillte about permission to develop a walk through their forestry. With Sligo Leader funding and other money raised in the local community, we have developed it now into the beautiful trail that it is today,” says Roger, adding that “it’s marvellous for children, families, parents, all age groups can enjoy it safely.”
Most of the trees around the trail were planted by Coillte some 25 years ago and are maturing well. They include native Irish species such as ash, oak and whitethorn, as well as other species like spruce and lodgepole pine. It’s located in a Special Area of Conservation, so as the year goes on you should also be able to spot different species of wildlife.
The trail is flanked on one side by the Midden River, part of the famous salmon system of the River Moy. The centre of the park includes a wide section of green area – currently overgrown – which is thought to have been a moated site dating back to the 12th or 13th centuries. Here, early inhabitants of the area would have lived and foraged for food, no doubt making good use of the water source that flowed nearby.
Amenities such as this one are important for the social fabric of the town, as described by Geraldine Brennan, a member of the local Tidy Towns group, an organization that helps Coillte with the general maintenance of the walks.
“We take great pride that it’s here in Tubbercurry, it’s so easy to get to, it’s just on your doorstep. It’s a lovely peaceful setting. Socially it’s great to be able to get out and meet your neighbours,” she says, adding that diverse groups including Mothers and Others, Active Age and the South Sligo Athletics Club all make use of the amenity.
The disused Sligo-Limerick rail line is also located nearby, and a road connects this line with the Tubbercurry Trail. Should the Sligo Greenway be developed in the future along this rail line, this will further enhance the potential for developing the amenity.
The Tubbercurry Trail is open all year round during daylight hours. When I was there I was passed by joggers and dog walkers, among others. I also saw people foraging for mushrooms, so there are lots of groups and individuals with their own particular reasons for walking here.
So as the evenings begin to lengthen, get out the walking shoes and rain mac and take in this lovely local walk. Currently we at Sligo Walks are producing new pocket maps of the trail which will be available free locally as well as in Sligo. This new series of walks will also include Cairns Hill, the Ballymote Heritage Trail and – when completed later in the Spring – the new walk up Knocknashee.