Sandmill Strollers

Sandmill Strollers have enjoyed four walks since the last newsletter however, two of those experienced wet weather, necessitating a change of plan!

We had planned to walk on Tibradden Mountain in June but due to the rain, we decided to produce our umbrellas for a walk along the River Dodder. Irene introduced us to a new route from Butterfield Avenue along the south bank of the river and then crossing to the Bushy Park area at the bridge by Rathfarnham Shopping Centre. The river Dodder never ceases to offer peace and tranquillity in the midst of the suburbs. Afterwards we enjoyed refreshments at the coffee shop in the shopping centre as our wet clothes dripped onto the floor! A great day out and the Strollers gave us an incentive to walk in the rain instead of sitting indoors.

Our annual walk along Kilcoole Beach to visit the Little Tern Colony was delayed a month until July – this proved to be a great success as we were able to observe many of the nesting birds and their chicks. There were 170+ incubating eggs and 76+ chicks on this day along with many other species of birds visible in the vicinity. We enjoyed chatting with the warden on duty and hearing about their tasks, in particular learning about the appetite of the hedgehogs who arrive for their daily snack on these delicious eggs! One pair of nesting birds was only a few yards from the path and offered us a unique opportunity to watch these small bundles of fluff and their parents as they brought them food. Their camouflage as they sit amongst the stones is perfect and we could only note their position when an adult flew in with food. Muriel, Valerie, Helen, Irene, Betty, Romney and Margaret thoroughly enjoyed this glorious day.

In August the weather again caused us to rethink our plans and we opted for Marlay Park instead of walking along the Wicklow Way. No mountain walks for us this summer! There are so many tracks through the park and we explored many of them – however, we failed to find the ‘fairy tree’. The coffee shop offered us respite from the rain and afterwards we walked around the walled garden. It is a beautiful place and we are lucky to have such splendid public places available to us.

A small but intrepid band, led by Irene, set out from Hellfire car park to explore Massy Woods for the September walk. I won’t say we got lost (Irene always knew where we were, of course!) but we were pleasantly surprised to find the old ice-house belonging to the long demolished estate house. Wandering past the ruined but extensive garden walls we wished there was a thorough explanatory/historical map of the area. For instance, the stream that we criss-crossed turned out later to be the Cruagh Brook, which joins the Owendough, eventually reaching the Dodder at Bushy Park.

The first half of the walk was pleasantly downhill, which, of course, meant that the return section of the loop led relentlessly uphill. Yet it was dry underfoot and we walked through lush green beech trees, which should be gloriously golden in a month or so (return visit?) Revived by coffee at Timbertrove, we left for home, rejoicing. Happy days!

So, despite the weather, we will always find somewhere suitable for our walks and look forward to more people joining us during the coming months on the first Tuesday of every month, meeting at St Philip’s at 1.30 pm (where there is free parking in the afternoon). Our upcoming walks are as follows:

1 October: The Scalp and Lead Mines Chimney.
5 November: Three Rock Mountain from Barnacullia (Blue Light pub).
3 December: Booterstown Marsh to Blackrock along coast.

Margaret Wynne and Jean Hickey

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