It was a bit grey and rainy this morning. I decided to hold off for a while, to see if the weather would improve.
When I saw patches of blue appearing in the sky and strong sunlight, I decided to take a chance. The weather had been atrocious yesterday evening, with thunder claps during the night. I had apparently slept through it all. As my great uncle Fred used to say “the sleep of the wicked” !!!
It was a bit choppy on the lake and quite cold when the sun went in. There was the odd shower and at one point, I thought I had made a mistake coming out. When the sun did come out it was boiling and uncomfortable with my raincoat on. Then if it went behind a bank of cloud, it was freezing again. All seasons in one day down here!!!
The water is very green down here and I imagine this where most of the contamination/ pollution is entering. You have a major town “Ballinrobe” in the near vicinity and with the more “flatter” landscape, more intensive farming.
I stopped near the shoreline on a small island for a toilet break and took some photos.
A little later I came across a small inlet with a lot of reeds sheltered by 2 nearby islands. I took some photos of old dead reeds, which protected from the currents had become calcified by the limestone in the lake. Some of these had collapsed further, leaving small “ball like” deposits at their bases.
As I passed a small inlet I had a “déjà vu” moment as I spied the remains of a small boat house. I had passed this way when I got horribly lost.
I took a photo of the heavily reeded entry into the “Keel” river which leads onto Lough “Mask”. There is a Weir here and a small bridge over the N84 road leading to Galway. I am led to believe it is possible to navigate this section by Kayak down to Lough “Mask”, though it may require lifting past the weir. I have seen parts of the river further on and it does look like it`s possible to continue. I think when you see the photo you will understand how similar the shoreline can look at times. If the light is different, you could struggle to recognize the place. I put it down to “fairy magic” !!!
As I made my way back to “Brownstown” on the other side of the lake, I realized, I had been lost down here too. That will teach me not to look at a map !!! The shoreline with the heavy forestation can be so similar, there are also a large number of inlets / islands, with reeds. It seems the fairies have been at working their magic down here too. I have heard stories of locals very familiar with the Lough going around and around in circles in fog. Its a deceptive place !!!
This is a fantastic place to get away from it all and I would thoroughly recommend it, to anybody needing time away from the “rat race”. Though you are close to civilization, most of the access is through local farms, so you are unlikely to meet many others.
I only saw 2 boats on any one day. I believe 10 years ago, there could be 40 fishing boats out there. The water I am told was crystal clear then. This change in water quality has drastically affected the numbers of brown trout in the lake. There has also been a drop off in the numbers of wildfowl.
Hopefully this can be addressed, as it would be a shame to lose a national treasure like Lough “Carra”. The limestone in the lake has been absorbing and trapping some of the pollutants but it`s struggling now. If the balance is tipped too far, then this unique eco-system will be gone forever !!!
It would need a collective effort looking at the type of farming in the area and the use of fertilizers. The intensive nature of animal farming of cows, pigs and sheep has also put immense pressure on the land. This has had a strong effect on Lough “Carra”, as its reliant on surface water from local areas that drain into it.
There have been a lot of groups lobbying local government and though there is sympathy, there does not seem a huge political will at present. If there was and the right conditions were present, I am told “Lough Carra” could right itself within 4-5 years !!!
I hope you enjoyed the trip and come visit this fantastic hidden part of Mayo. It really is a gem !!!