SandMill Strollers: Winter Walks

Our last three walks have all been along water – the Irish Sea and rivers Liffey and Dodder. In December we experienced a walk that was new to us: the first problem was discovering that I was unable to use the required technology to pay for cashless parking close to Booterstown Marsh so we started our walk from Sandymount Strand where there was a machine that accepted cash! However, it was worth the extra walk to observe many of the birds overwintering at the marsh: teal, Brent geese, oyster catchers, herons, mallards, gulls, snipe and a swan with her cygnet.

We then walked along the pathway that links Booterstown to Blackrock through lovely parks – if the tide had been farther out we could have crossed the foot bridges and walked along the shoreline. Because of the delayed start we didn’t reach Blackrock and enjoyed our ‘cuppa’ at the Old Punchbowl in Booterstown. Next time better research will be carried out on car parking apps. Technology!

Having decided not to walk on New Year’s Day, we postponed our walk to 8 January and this route was again altered slightly due to car-parking difficulties – this time our chosen car park for the River Dodder (close to the Spawell roundabout) was closed because the council had filled it with Christmas trees, which they were busy shredding! So an alternative starting place was farther upriver close to the Firhouse Weir. This great weir is one of the highlights of the Dodder Valley: it is not only a truly splendid artificial waterfall but an integral part of a waterworks established more than seven hundred years ago. The Dodder Valley Linear Park has been enhanced over the past few years with two splendid pedestrian bridges that provide a continuous path as far as Oldbawn. As we approached Oldbawn, we appreciated the graceful arch of Oldbawn Bridge which spans another waterfall built from limestone blocks. From here to Bohernabreena the walk is along the public road until we joined the Dublin Mountain Way, which goes through the grounds of Kiltipper Woods Care Centre before diverting via a pathway to rejoin the Dodder again. A welcome stop in Kiltipper café bar and we discussed the favourite walks for 2019 before commencing the return journey back to
the cars.

February saw us heading towards the Poolbeg area of Dublin for a walk along the Shelly Banks and the Great South Wall to the lighthouse at its end. This was a day for hats, scarves and gloves! It was a bracing walk as we trod carefully along the great granite blocks that make up the wall that were laid about three hundred years ago. The spray from the sea was being blown across our path in places but we didn’t get too wet. The tide was ebbing while we were walking and by the time we returned to the Shelly Bank beaches the shoreline was bustling with birds busy feeding. We stopped to look and tried to identify them – closest to the shore were at least one hundred black-tailed godwits with a few oystercatchers amongst them.

Margaret Wynne

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