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Guide Kathryn discusses returning to the hills after time spent sedentary


Hiking in The Comeragh Mountains, County Waterford


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Blog.. Shorts

Weather.. Mammatus Clouds

Appreciating Mammatus clouds on my cycle this morning. These pockets form on the underside of storm clouds. Unusually, they form by sinking pockets of cold air. Normally clouds form opposite to this. 🌧 🌨 ☁️

How they form is not yet fully understood but for us hikers, what can they mean? Mammatus form under a turbulent sky, you can see in the radar capture from the same moment I was on the edge of a storm cell, so a good chance of rain or hail and moderate to strong winds. On the hills I'd be conscious of the direction the weather was travelling and wary of the crack of thunder.
Latin translation; mamma meaning "udder" or "breast"..

#cloudstagram #hikersofinstagram #hikingireland

We have a short blog on our website for hikers and fans of weather

Nature.. Hawthorn & Blackthorn

Its in the name, both have similar flowers but the key to telling them apart is in the name. Blackthorn have a darker stem, Hawthorn is a lighter grey. This time of year (from March) the Blackthorn flowers are on display before the leaves whereas Hawthorn leaves appear first

Leaves on both are quite different, Blackthorn has jagged oval leaves and sloe berries which appear in autumn. The Hawthorn has a lobey.... obovate leaf and red berries.

#peacfulmoment #explore #natureinfocus

Enviornment; Air Pollution

The image demonstrates pollution accumulation during a cool clear period. There are a number of factors that cause air pollution to accumulate like this.

Weather Factors

Taken during an extended period of high pressure over the alps, which meant clear, cold days causing a weather inversion. This requires unsettled weather to disperse the trapped layer which contains air pollution.

Pollution Source

Three significant contributors in the area;

1. The Mont Blanc Tunnel sees traffic from most of western Europe travelling to Italy. Vehicle traffic contributes significantly to pollution in Chamonix. An estimated 750,000 trucks travelled through the Mont Blanc tunnel in 1996

2. Wood burning in winter months creates pollution that can sit in the valley for days on end. This can have a range of impacts on human health from asthma attacks to lung disease. 

3. Industrial pollution; an incinerator located in the L’Arve Valley just over 20km from Chamonix town centre sees seasonal increase in waste volume due to tourism [1]

Irish Arctic-Alpine Flora

Geology - Limestone, karst, caves, ancient tropical shallow sea, glaciation

Formed in the Carboniferous period when an abundance of sea life covered the shallow warm seas that lay over the continent. Lime mud layers set as a tiered limestone pavement you see before you today which is around 700 metre thick.

Continental movements that greeted Pangeae forced this limestone up into the shapes you will see on Mullaghmore. The cracks (Grikes) are weaknesses that have been dissolved by rain which is slightly acidic by nature.

The limestone is eventually dissolved and carried away in solution. Possibly one of the best examples of a karst landscape.

When the water flows horizontally through the rock underground small channels and chambers are formed which eventually lead to the formation of Caves, 2 local caves are Doolin Cave & Aillwee. 

More recently 10,000 years ago at the last ice age in Ireland, Glaciers were prominent in the Burren which also contributed to shaping the landscape, leaving features like erratic boulders and valleys.  The unique angular shape of the rocks found at Mullaghmore is result of tectonic activity and folding of the limestone and weathering/erosion. 

Dolines are depressions in the landscape caused by settlement or collapse of rock beneath the surface.

The Burren in Autumn

Turloughs are seasonal lakes that appear when the water table is high, they disappear as it recedes. The lake we pass is Gortlecka or Lough Gealain, a permanent very deep spring fed lake that occupies a Doline. The big roadside lake in the distance to the East is Lough Bunny.

Winterage; unlike most farmers around the world, when winter arrives in the Burren cattle are herded from the lowlands to higher ground for grazing. This ancient tradition is called ‘transhumance’, in the Burren they do this in reverse. The biodiversity in the region depends on this human activity. This year it takes place Friday 28th October or Samhain..


At first glance The Burren looks desolate and bare, even described as Lunar. But wild flowers abound, it contains no less than three quarters of all Irelands plant species, 23 of Ireland's 27 orchids. Ash-Hazel scrub favour areas of shallow soils, scrub being clusters under 5m. But Alder, Willow, Elm, Holly, Blackthorn can also be found dispersed across the landscape.

It’s the natural variety that gives the area its fame; Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants grow side by side in this unique region. The Spring Gentian is the symbol of the Burren where it grows at sea level, elsewhere in Europe this plant thrives high in the alpine mountain ranges.

As we are now in Autumn, fruits and seeds are ripening. Plants you may observe this time of year are the Burnet Rose, Knapweed, Bloody Cranesbill, Sloes are out which make a great christmas gin and there are nuts on the hazel trees.

All topics here deserve their own blog but here is a list of some animals that can be found in this magnificent region..


  • Feral goats, used to be farmed (considered the poor man's goat) 
  • Slow, Worm, Lizards & Frogs
  • Foxes 
  • Rabbit, Hare
  • 28 out of 30 Irish Butterfly Species
  • Badgers 
  • Stoats, Pine Martin
  • Red squirrel, Bank Vole, Fieldmouse, Otter
  • Bats  (7 species)
  • Swans; Mute, Bewick and Whooper
  • Coot, Grebe, Teal, Mallard, Godwal, Curlew
  • Peregrine Falcon, Barn Owl, Cuckoo


Alpine-Arctic Flora Found in Ireland

Purple Saxifrage

Saxifragaceae family is an arctic alpine species whose name derives from where it is likely to grow; on broken, calcium rich soil. The Latin name
Saxifraga oppositifolia means ‘rock breaker’ and this plant feels at home in the arctic landscape or high up in the Alpine regions, it is one of the most northerly flowering plants and has been found close to the summit of mountains in the Alps. In Ireland Purple Saxifrage remains in small pockets in the west and north west, probably remnants from Ireland's last ice age.

Mountain Aven Dryas octopetala

From the ancient Greek word Drys meaning ‘oak’, the name comes from its leaves which  resemble little oak leaves. It colonised thundra’s following the retreat of continental glaciers even giving its name to these young and old ‘Dryas’ periods. It has a woody base and can live for up to 100 years. A circumpolar plant normally found in the arctic regions is quite at home at sea level in The Burren, Co Clare.