The Wetlands Walking Trail

The Wetlands Walking Trail 2.5km. Yellow dotted ........ line on map.
This Trail begins appropriately on the bridge at the top of the Ornamental Lake visible from the Visitor Centre reception. Leaving point 18 you traverse the Rippling Rill Way which follows alongside a small but significant spawning stream used by Brown trout from the lake. Upon reaching the dam a short way upstream at point 19 you will have one of the best chances to see trout rising to flies or even to see them cruising the clear water at your feet. The small island here is an ideal refuge for wildfowl with nesting in mind.
On reaching point 20, Paddy Hugh’s bridge, you might pause for a break at the shelter here or peer over the bridge, startling small trout or scattering Pond skaters on the surface of the slow moving water. Climbing slightly now with Knocknakilla mountain on your right you find yourself traveling between two streams. At point 21 on Reverend Senans Bridge you are reminded of the man responsible for the stream that bubbles beneath it and beyond. The portal beyond is an interesting feature of the deer farm. The tunnel takes you under and Overhead Deer Pass at point 23, which links many of the grassy paddocks through a system of raceways.
Point 24 offers a stone circle, radial stone enclosure and stone alignment dating from the Bronze Age. They stand as monuments to some of the early human activity within the bounds of the Park. Leaving the past behind quite literally as you climb towards point 25 at the Cuckoo Bridge. During May, The Cuckoo Bridge is as good a point as any to record the territorial call of the male bird of the same name. The female is quite in comparison, not surprising as her mere presence sends panic amongst small birds that play host to her eggs and raise her young. Deer can be seen in the paddocks nearby as they graze or rest in suitably majestic surroundings.
Turing right after crossing the bridge you enter Con Long’s Grove and point 26. Birds are prolific here and by sitting or just pausing for a moment you will witness this as fact. Foxes seem to prefer the excellent cover provided in this particular area, so do not be surprised to see a flash of red as one suddenly seeks invisibility from your intended route. Continuing on through the grove, the Nightjar Bridge on your left at point 27, leads to a clearing in some of the more mature conifers. The Nightjar, which is both nocturnal and migratory in nature, has been recorded here and indeed in similar habitat elsewhere, in Co. Cork.
The grove trail will lead eventually to more open country where you will encounter the Managed Wetlands at point 28. Although there are many examples of wetland in the park this area has been developed to allow the colonization of wetland flora and fauna exactly as nature intends. Bridges and paths let you explore the area without disturbing the flora or from gaining the unwelcome damp feet so often a souvenir of a wetland visit. Frogs have been quick to utilize this well defined habitat and their spawning activity in early spring is a wonder. Watch out for tadpoles in various stages of development and the many tiny frogs that appear in summer.
On a downhill trend you now leave the wetlands, crossing via Thrushes Bridge and Butterword Bridge and Turning right follow the route back down to the Overhead Deer Pass. Turning right over William Sheehans Bridge you will be on the final phase of this particular walk. The Kiln Field takes you past deer pasture on your right and a Spruce plantation to the left. Deciduous trees again have been planted to extend and diversify this section of the Lower Arboretum. Some Stinging Nettle patches are deliberately encouraged here to host the caterpillar of the Peacock butterfly. You choose to wander through the Sensory Garden not or make a more immediate return to the Visitor Centre. This walk is approx. 4km long and should take about 1 hour 30minutes to complete.

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