I drove to Galway city on Wednesday morning, a hundred mile round trip from Clifden town. It’s a journey I make about once a month and usually out of necessity when I have a sufficient amount of errands to run. This particular morning was beautiful – crisp  and sunny and still. Fortunately I had my camera with me so I was able to pull in at Ballinafad and take some pictures. You might think that I’ve photoshopped these but it’s the real thing and exactly as it was ( I’m not a great fan of photoshop, especially when it comes to landscape ). This is the N59 looking towards Galway with ‘Lissoughter’ and ‘Binn Ramhar’ mountains on the left.


The N59 Road towards Galway




Here’s the road looking back towards Clifden with the lower slopes of Benn Lettery on the right and Ballinahinch Lake to the left.


N59 Road looking back towards Clifden




And here’s the view south west taking in the lake and forest beyond.


Photo of Connemara in November




Facing south now and some gorgeous reflections in the lake which was as clear and still as glass – the posts supporting the new saplings, the tree line of the forest and the fisherman’s beats outside this little shed. I love the grasses too, golden like burnt caramel and warm to the eye.


Another view of Ballinahinch Lake




I find myself marveling at it all and the fact that I live in such a beautiful part of the country. I think back to the first time I took this road about twenty years ago and the thoughts that ran through my head. It was like going deeper and deeper in to the unknown, into a kind of wilderness. The water almost touches the road in places as it twists and turns around the lakes ( much narrower then ) and I remember finding this a bit unnerving. The remoteness of the landscape, which seemed to recede in to itself further and further was more than a little daunting for a city girl like me but the extraordinary beauty of the place was unmistakable. You might imagine that you would get used to it, stop seeing it perhaps and begin to take it all for granted but this simply isn’t true. Every season brings a change and each season has it’s own special kind of beauty and moments like these in Ballinafad are made for savouring.


One last photo of Ballinafad



Connemara is largely deprived of trees aside from the Coillte planted forests. The landscape is just too harsh and inhospitable in most areas for many varieties. The beautiful Ballinahinch estate is an exception and it boasts 450 acres of woodlands, gardens, lakes and rivers. We go there regularly for walks and to soak up the beauty and magic of the woodland. There are many routes to take but from Ballinahinch castle we usually opt for the riverside path, pictured below.


Riverside path at Ballinahinch





The path moves away from the water further on and we are surrounded by trees, evergreen and deciduous and the ever present rhododendron bushes (below)


Trees at Ballinahinch





When we gaze downwards we discover some fungi. Once we start looking for them, we discover several different varieties and it becomes a game. I take pictures while the girls spot new ones..







Mushroom at Ballinahinch





This next one has been nibbled. I love its deep red colour and I think about some nocturnal creature creeping out from its lair under cover of darkness for a little snack..


Red mushroom at Ballinahinch





The forest path closes in on the next part of our walk and it becomes a tunnel of trees (below)


Woodland path at Ballinahinch





Finally, the path opens up and looking to the right, we have a beautiful view of Ben Lettery through the trees. This is one of the ‘Twelve Bens’ mountain range, synonymous with Connemara.


Photograph of Ben Lettery from Ballinahinch




It is possible to get lost in another world in Ballinahinch wood because it is so unlike anything you might usually associate with Connemara – rock, heath, heathers and barren land and yet this place is right on our doorstep. Well worth a trip if you’re in town.