Walking with Blackstairs Eco Trails

Mary White on the trail

On Saturday last (Sept 24) a group travelled from Wexford to the wilds of rural Carlow, Killedmond to be exact, for a guided walk with Blackstairs Eco Trails. Our guides were former Green Party TD Mary White and her other half Robert. On arrival at The Rectory, Mary and Robert’s beautiful old house, we were treated to warm smiles, hot tea and coffee and delicious scones.
Relaxed and fortified we then drove the short distance to Borris where this particular walk starts (between uplands and lowlands they have at least twelve regular routes). Our route takes us into the grounds of Borris House, ancestral home of the MacMurrough Kavanaghs. We follow a small tributary of The Barrow through ancient woods full of bugs, berries, birds, fungi and wild flowers. All the while our guides are ready with a few words on interesting specimens encountered.
We eventually leave the woods behind and find ourselves on the Barrow tow-path in blazing sunshine. No otters in view today but loads of little darting “boatmen” bugs and a few stately swans. This regularly mowed path is a walker’s, or indeed a jogger’s, paradise. Today we have the whole river to ourselves.
We take a short break at an old lock where Mary produces a very welcome minature bottle of the most delicious sloe-gin (note to self: include a bottle of this in my survival kit!). The final kilometre of the walk is over before we know it and everyone sprawls out by the riverside in the hot sun while the drivers are ferried off to collect the cars.
In no time we are back at the house for more tea/coffee and the most amazing spread of pastries – brown soda bread, heart-scones with cream and logan berry jam, shaped sponge cakes, flapjacks. With much happy chat, cups refilled and everyone settled into comfortable armchairs one is reluctant to leave this scene of easy contentment. But, eventually, go one must albeit armed with a jar of blackberry jam in one hand, a half dozen eggs in the other and the t-shirt that proves you did the walk! Hats off to Blackstairs Eco Trails for doing what they do and doing it so well. If stars were given for guided walks I couldn’t see them getting less than five every time.

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