Wild Flower Walks
Its that time of the year again. The wild flowers are blooming and countryside is bursting into colour, it is a treat to drink in the beauty of the landscape. Walking and now, interspersing the walks with intervals of running to increase cardio-vascular rates is my exercise of choice. If swimming without a wet suit was always possible in an Irish summer then that would be right up there too, but for now the go to exercise of choice is walking.
The Benefits of Walking
We know that regular exercise is good for us in so many ways. A longevity test going viral on Social Media recently calculated the likelihood of living longer based among other things on the pace one wa.
- We are less likely to suffer from coronary attacks or any heart disease. Web MD, a reliable source, quoted a Nurse’s Health Study (72,488 female nurses) who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary event by 35% compared with women who did not walk.
- It is good for the soul. It is a great stress reliever and problems seem to find their own way of dissolving in nature’s greenery. A cousin of mine in the medical profession calls it “Nature’s Prozac”. It certainly lifts the spirits no matter what the weather is doing.
- It sharpens our thinking. Recent studies have found that cognitive function increases dramatically in those who walk briskly three times a week.
- It is good for the bones. Bone density is improved with regular exercise in particular walking.
- Walking briskly and often decreases body fat….Fact.
- It’s free….what’s not to love?
Beauty Close at Hand
We drive through amazing landscape but so often miss the tiny details if we are in a car. Walking allows the element of surprise , little gems that can so easily be missed. In summer when the wildflowers are in bloom the only way to appreciate clarity of colour and exquisite form is to stop and take time to take it all in. After all it’s quite easy to pick up pace after a few wonderful moments of smelling the roses, wild or otherwise.
My Favourite Irish Walks
There are so many I am not sure if I can get through them all but in my just on seven years living here there are some that I return to again and again. I tend to enjoy the sea and lake shores a little more than the woods so will pick what I consider to be my top five.
Flaggy Shore co Clare
Because of its proximity to where I live on the South Galway/ East Clare border and the stark magnificence of the Burren this has to rate as my most frequent “go-to” of choice. On the road out of Kinvara at New Quay on the Clare side of Galway bay is the most scenic shoreside walk. Lady Gregory, Yeats’s friend and mentor chose a perfect spot for her beach home. It is like stepping into a picture postcard and offers an overdose of beauty whatever the weather. There is a perfect loop which would take in Russell Gallery and their great choice of Art frequently exhibited. Linnane’s Seafood Bar for Chowder and a hot whisky is the ideal stopover en route home.
2. Our Local Woods
There is something quite wonderful about being able to do the loop walk in the Chevy Chase hazel nut woods behind our house without even having to drive anywhere. The woods are deep, dark and mysterious and a trout filled river runs through them, a great place to explore. They are particularly beautiful in autumn when the hazelnuts and mushrooms offer foraging potential second to none.
3. Bally Cotton Cliffs co Cork
Any cliff top walk is always spectacular and despite my lack of head for heights I never feel closer to nature than when I watch the sea swirling below my feet. The walk along the Atlantic to Bally Cotton certainly rates as one of the most beautiful I have been on.
4. Cliff Walk from Bray to Greystones co Wicklow
While I am on the cliff top topic, I have to include the spectacular walk from Bray to Greystones that my daughter Sasha and I went on one fine day in early spring. It was easily 2.5 hours so certainly good exercise in my book and made so much sweeter by a lunch stop at The Happy Pear in Greystones afterwards.
5. The Shores of Lough Corrib co Galway
In early May when the May Fly is out and the countryside is awakening after its winter sleep it is perfect to experience spring fever with the fishermen who come from all over the world to fish this spot. Any season will offer a beautiful experience and each corner and summit of a hill top reveals nature at her spectacular best. There are delightful pubs in the villages along the way and a great day out is well ended with pub grub and a glass ( for me) of the black stuff.