The Carrig Leabra Trail

The Carrig Leabra Walking Trail. Pink dotted ......... line on map.
This walk is about 7 km long and should take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes to complete.
On your way…. The trail, although perhaps the most arduous, is also the most rewarding in terms of scenery, and the sense of adventure and achievement on its completion. The starting point of this trail is at Reverend Senans Bridge at point 21. Strike out now on the Knocknakilla Ascent Trail at point 29, with Knocknakilla mountain rising to your right. You begin to pass plantings of deciduous trees that have created a wildlife corridor from the lower park to higher ground.  Walking Trail Carrig Leabra scene 4A pathway to the left, links the Knocknailla ascent Trail with the Managed Wetlands. The Shepherds Hut site at point 30 awaits you and may be an opportune place to catch your breath. The trail is steepening now as it snakes through more Sitka Spruce towards another newer shelter provided for your benefit. At point 31 at the end of this serpentine route you can take a seat and gain proper reward in the expansive scenery below. This picnic area has a stone table guarded behind by some of the largest exposed rocks in the park. The diversity and extent of lichens here is an encouraging indicator of the pure air that you breathe deeply when recovering from the climb. On joining the Park Entrance Walk and turning right an information panel explains Carrig Leabra. This site at point 32 is of a hedge School under the lee of a distinctive rock outcrop that you can see looking up towards Knocknakilla. The late William Sheehan was familiar with his parents accounts of the Hedge School and the panel will relate them to you. You can now turn back and follow the Park Entrance Walk, head downhill from point 32, your route follows the Park Entrance Walk to the east where on your right you can see a cross section of “horizon” of the moor. Visible on the edge of the bog surface you can see purple Moorgrass Mollina purpurea and Ling Heather Calluna vulgaris as well as various mosses, lichens, grasses and herbs. Although a certain amount of drainage from the bog has resulted from our activity, high rainfall has meant that it continues to thrive. On inspection of the soil horizon a shallow layer of dark peat can be clearly identified. Beneath this acidic organic layer, a red coloured band sediment, rich in iron oxides, tops and surrounds coarser debris deposited by glacial activity towards the end of the last Ice Age. Walking Trail Carrig Leabra scene 5 Along this cutting you may notice the curious V-shaped wedges of coarse stone drains at regular intervals along the bank. One yet unproven theory is that these are Lazy Bed Troughs, an archaeological feature left by farming activity here before the spread of bog back down the hillside over the last three millennia. It has been argued that the extent of human population here suggested by the large number of archaeological sites in the Boggeragh area, would make cultivation of land a necessity. Alternatively these structures could be polygon ice wedges, a geological feature described in literature. Tundra type freezing conditions towards the end of the last Ice Age may have produced this strangely regular landscape, the flow of meltwater forming numerous streams and dumping rock in channels lining the hillside. One of these formations is signposted at point 38. A small picnic area on the left serves as another opportunity to break from your adventure at point 37, as does a more secluded spot further on the left. The latter of these areas at point 39 descends slightly from the road to a sheltered spot with panoramic views of Clara mountain and the Blackwater valley. Picnic tables, a grass play area and public toilets are provided. Turning left on the Eastern Link Road at point 41 a sharp descent and a further left turn leads to the Birch Tree Trail. Progressing further west you arrive at point 25 on the Cuckoo Bridge from where you can follow the wetlands back to the Visitor Centre.. This walk is about 7 km long and should take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes to complete.

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