In this series of Ramblings, Clare Balding explores holiday walking routes.
15 August 2008
Clare Balding ends the series with a medative walk between two holy wells in Ireland.
Walking from St Hugh's to St Bridget's wells on the shores of Lough Allen in the Republic of Ireland, Clare's joined by a group of local women who have fallen in love with the area. The originator of the walk Aedin McCloughlin hopes that the healing properties of these sacred places might give some relief to Clare's bad back.
Lough Allen is a lake on the River Shannon in the north central part of the Republic of Ireland. Most of the lake is in County Leitrim, with a smaller portion in County Roscommon.
This walk was originally set up two years ago as part of an eco tourism experiment to encourage ramblers into the area.
The route follows the Leitrim Way and winds it’s way between two wells which have special healing traditions associated with them. The first is called St Hugh’s which has an ancient steam house attached to it. This was used to treat rheumatic pain. The second is a smaller well called St Bridget’s which heals tooth ache.
Clare is joined by Aedin McLouglin, Brenda Gaffney and Alex Delimata. Originally from the East of Ireland, Aedin moved back to the West as this was where her mother was from. Her real passion lies in Irish Heritage mythology, spirituality and story telling which comes from her grandmother
Brenda was a city girl, growing up in Salford. She married an Irish musician and when they both retired, they decided to move to her husband’s home village. She now runs the local walking group. Alex moved to Lough Allen seven years ago after living in Switzerland.
Map: OS Sheet number 26. Start: Lough Allen Marina next to the Gables Restaurant Distance: 6/7 miles Terrain: Footpaths Suitable for: All walkers but there are high styles
Route: Start at the marina next to the Gables Restaurant at Lough Allen and walk along the Leitrim way to St Hugh’s Well. This holy well sits alongside a stream. There is a 200 year old ‘sweat house’ here. From here, walk along the path back towards Loch Allen and you will see a Ballinaglera village pub come grocery store. 2 miles from here, you continue up to St Bridget’s well.