Yesterday morning was fabulous. Very calm and sunny and despite an early frost it was lovely. After the school run I came home and organised my bike and kit all ready for a late morning spin. First though I had to wait for the guy to come and replace one of our worn out electric showers. With two teenage boys back at school and both of us working one working shower is no longer enough in the morning!
The shower man came about 10 and left about 1130. I don’t know if it was spending the morning making small talk and listening to his stories or if it was the change of weather from sunny and calm to overcast, cool and breezy but my cycling desire had totally evaporated and the thought of dealing with traffic was totally unappealing all of a sudden.
I was rattling around the house trying to think of something to do when a flash of inspiration brought to mind Killeter Forest and the marked trails. A quick perusal of the pdf established that the 10km Bannadoo Trail was the best option.
Over the last number of weeks I’ve been drawn more and more to the woods. Something about woods and forests and being in the trees is helping me mentally, a form of forest bathing as referenced above. My go-to place for many years has been Monellan Woods. It’s local and relatively quiet until the last year or so. Over the years I’d rarely meet anyone else while walking there, occasionally another walker or runner. Since Covid and an explosion in outdoors activity word has obviously spread and now it’s a lot busier. Tuesday evening for example I met at least 6 other groups/solo walkers and runners. It’s still a beautiful spot but it’s lost a lot of it’s calm and solitude.
I didn’t have this problem in Killeter. Almost 7.5km is on forest roads with the rest on a very rural road. Apart from the surface there isn’t much difference between the road and the forest tracks as the road also runs through the same mix of mature Spruce plantation and clearfell. The only company I had for almost two and a half hours was the trees, hundreds of singing birds and insects. Not another person or car the whole time.
The walk turned out to be almost 11km including the short walk from the car park area to the start of the loop. Most of it is through mature plantation so the views are minimal but there’s a beautiful lake in the last couple of kilometres as well as the site of the former Derg Lodge. Although I missed out on a cycle it was a worthwhile change of plan.