Banagher in The Rain- i think i see a pattern forming here all ready!

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This week’s ramble was supposed to be up over in Donegal where we had hoped to be up over the Urris hills (your iss /our iss I can never remember the pronunciation, and I would not be surprised if both of them are wrong too. The aforesaid piece of landscape is a favourite of most (if not all) of our motley little crew. The hills, the lakes, the views, the solitude and just the general feel good thing this place gives you. Must admit solitude is often something this place does not have the odd time. But in saying that when you get to the peak and take in the majestic views little is spoken.
ANY WAY weather conditions at the start in the usual rendezvous were not quite favourable. So after a very brief discussion we decided to head to Banagher Forest.

Banagher forest is actually County Derry’s  largest commercial forest. The wildlife there includes stoats,squirrels, birds of prey such as buzzards and sparrow hawks and the occasional rambler and mountain-biker. I think the circular walk is about 9 miles-but then –as any rambler knows…tracks are for wimps! And did I say it contains the one of the largest examples of old sessile oak woods in Northern Ireland? Well I did now.

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Banagher Glen lies just three miles south-west of Dungiven, close to the Villages of Claudy, Feeney and Park and is a secluded, steep wooded glen leading to Altnaheglish Reservoir and Banagher Dam. One of the oldest ancient oak woodlands in Ireland, Banagher Glen is a Nature Reserve and Special Area of Conservation.

Local folklore tells of when St Patrick was ridding Ireland of its snakes that he first drove them into the rivers. It is said that St. Patrick found the largest snake in Ireland in a pool on the Glenedra Water (aka the ‘Crooked Burn’) in Banagher Glen and it was too large to move so St. Patrick imprisoned it there. Legend claims that the most monstrous last snake in Ireland is still there to this day! But then practically every county in the 32 counties here has got a Saint Patrick legend-I think over in Donegal they have a copy of his driving licence. Well he did drive the snakes out so he had to have a car.Makes sense doesn’t it?

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When we got there we noticed something different-a new bigger car park. Now this was a breath of fresh air as the previous place we had to park was precariously narrow and would sometimes need a 10 point turn getting in/out of a space and there was only room for 2 or 3 cars.
At the start we met a runner who was there for the first time and was asking us for directions and distance to the dam –we told him. But later we met him as he got a bit lost-on a straight line too-a rambler in the making here me thinks.
The autumn colours were great-as expected. Getting near the dam we had a quick change of course and we decided to go down to the bottom of the dam and get over to the other side.
The dam was built (I think) sometime between 1920-1939 but it was improved in 1987 due to a bigger need for water in the Limavady area. I think this is when we in Loughermore got our first flush toilets –the novelty is yet to wear off.
We went over to the other side of the dam and more or less did our route anti-clockwise-but it DID take a bit of effort to get back onto what you could call a track.

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Despite the mizzling rain and misty skies the views of the lake from the other side had a certain mystical magic to it. In the distance on the other side of the dam we saw another bunch of walkers-and pitied them as we had the better view and challenge.
When we stopped for our feed station (look ramblers are like touring cyclists, we don’t eat-we feed) It was then we saw the other group and noticed a few females in it-maybe WE had gone the wrong way after all. We decided to go down to the bottom of the dam –it was good seeing this thing from a different angle. In fact is was good seeing the entire walk from a different viewpoint, No doubt we will be doing this again.
Despite the changing weather a good day was had by all. It was not the usually straightforward easy walk-which made it better-in a round about way I suppose the moral here is to turn round and look at things from a different angle-you’ll be surprised at how good it looks.
I’ll be putting more photos up on facebook  later and on flickr.And too lazy to spell check/edit
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mullaghananeany in the rain

OK we’re not so much a club, we’re just a bunch who like to go out for a ramble. We DO occasionally do a walk on a beach or through a forest-but truth be said-we like our hills.
There is something about getting to the top of a hill (or to be technical the peak,the summit, the trig point) and looking down at the land beneath you. Or when you clamber down the other side and, when at the bottom look back up at what you have descended. Both give you a real feel good feeling.
Today’s walk was up over Mullaghananeany –which I believe is the third highest in the Sperrins. That’s another thing we have noticed-everybody seems to go for the highest and not the second highest, and so on. It’s not that we don’t like seeing other people, but there is something about the solitude at the top of a climb, or even beside a forest lake.
Back to today’s walk. Weather was not the best, pretty threatening to be honest. At the start we met a bunch of young cyclists with heavily packed bikes-turned out they were training for a Duke of Ed expedition –“all this for a bloomin’ “ badge I said, but was put in my place when I was told “It’s not the goal, it’s the journey that counts.”

anthony demonstrating a rain dance he saw in usa -it worked, only too well

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Getting near the top of the peak the weather had deteriorated somewhat and we could not get the views we were hoping for. One member of the group remarked, “Now isn’t this better than sitting with your feet up watching TV?” I said “With a big mug of tea, a packet of chocolate hob nobs and 2 or 3 Sunday papers? Yeah it sure does.” Now you have to be a rambler to understand that. The whole fresh air, movement, and landscape. Even on a day like today-you still see something. At one point we crossed the same stream 3 times (you had to be there.) And when we stopped for our feed we discussed some very intellectual subjects e.g. the logic in charging £35 for a thermos flask (we could not work that out) .
Much that we enjoyed the ramble it was great to get home,into a showered and dried out. And,dare I say it –sitting down with a mug of tea and the Sunday papers.
Ok more pictures

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Book Quest Mission -the first leg

Well the Holy Grail quest has begun. On Saturday I visited two second hand book shops. Some thing I have noticed about second hand book shops-they are like Dr. Who’s Tradis. From the outside they look tiny and you get the impression that you’ll find nothing-but once inside you wonder how they get so much in there, and the DO actually look bigger on the inside.
Second hand book shops have a better atmosphere/smell than the new ones. The two I visited first are not far from where I live. Well, if I were to be pedantic-this is the second two. Because, I have been to two in my work town. I have also been to a couple or three of those charity shops (well you never know). I hate, and believe you me I REALLY hate to admit it (confess?) but I know I can get the book on Amazon. But then that would take the fun/challenge out of this search. Maybe I should set myself a deadline for this goal? Maybe some rules too. Like not travelling over a certain amount of miles just to look for second hand book shops. Or is that more fun doing that? I COULD phone/email the shops asking if they have the books?
Anyways here are the first two shops in my quest. Both shops had a pretty good layout and the section(s) I wanted were easy to find. I did not get a chance to talk to the people in the shops. The person in “The Book Shop” was in a little cubicle –which was a bit of a downer for me. Looked too stand-offish for me. On checking their Facebook page it seems to be all about computer games,movie toys-nothing about books so a point lost.

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Now a couple of people recommend the other shop-which was only a 4 mile drive from my first port of call. And it was worth the drive-I almost bought a book in this one. This one also had some used vinyl (with stickers remarking on the condition) some good choices at most reasonable prices too-maybe another visit sometime, for this one.Dealer was not locked away in a cubicle and was sorting shelves too

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And nothing to do with the search, but I got a copy of “Animal Farm” in my favourite one-to help pass time while waiting at hospital the other day. Had forgotten how much I enjoyed this book. One of the very few books I enjoyed at school. For some reason now I feel the urge to read “Lord of the Flies” again now-is there a link here?

second leg coming soon


The Quest For The Holy Grail aka Jenni’s Book

I have given myself a new mission-call it my Quest For The Holy Grail. Or the hunt for Jenni’s Book.
Jenni, the owner of the oasis that is Little Acorns book shop in Derry, lent me a copy of her own favourite book.When she gave it to me she lovingly wiped its cover clean with a piece of cloth she had in her hand-and i knew this really IS her favourite book. I’ll be returning it to her-but now I have decided to hunt for my own copy of it. I am going to go round as many second hand book shops as I can. I am NOT going to use the beast that is Amazon. I may add a few extras to my mission-maybe get a similar “local” type book. I’ll take a photo of the shop and maybe tell the owner what I’m up too. Would be an added bonus if there was something unique from that shop like a bookmark.Suggestions are welcome. I’ll also try to donate one of my own books and scribble some sort of a code in it-maybe start something. Like in that John Cussak/kate beckinsdale movie “Serendipity” (incidentally i am ashamed to say i have no idea what my favourite word is-“to the gerdythesaurus Robin!” I cried
Now when I give her, her treasured book back-I have a few of my warped humour influenced lines to come out with:-
1.When she says “Did you enjoy it?” I’ll say “ Yes I did-actually I have dog-eared the pages and highlighted my favourite lines.”
2. …yes but when I was photocopying my favourite bits some pages fell out but I taped them back in again with some masking tape
3 yes, but I spilled some hot chocolate over it when I was reading it in the bath last night
4 yes, but I was so scared of getting it dirty I had to wear auctioneer gloves when I was reading it.
But I think I’ll just say “yeah-it was great, and tell her of my Holy Grail Mission.”
So this is my first blog on this thing. And support your local independent book shops folks. If they are half as good as this one -you have a diamond that you should make sure does not lose its shine.

Photos and better layouts will follow soon. i may even mention my outdoor cycle/rambling trips on here too.And maybe make an effort to check over this thing too.