18 Aug 2022

Wild about wildlife: 'Exploring more at Goulmore'

Wild about wildlife: 'Exploring more at Goulmore'

Albert’s son Harry beside Goulmore standing stone

WE passed our first house and the owner keeps the garden very neat. They have one of the best views in the parish. You can see the entire hills and valley, and on a good day a shadowy glimpse of the distant Galtees.

Broad and narrow leaved plantain grow along the road. The narrow thrives on grassy banks while the broad on the trampled mud at the edge of the road.

On the bank we find a new species for us. It takes a bit of work but at home we find it in the books and identify it as thyme leaved sandwort.

We passed the last occupied farmhouse and there is only one resident left after the eldest brother recently passed away. A large plastic barrel is continuously filling from a mountain stream. Forks and shovels are also gleaming after getting a blessing for pure mountain water.

The road becomes rougher and is struggling to keep its shape against the onslaught from rain, frosts and encroaching vegetation. Hawthorn grows on the high bank and underneath there is a profusion of violets. Green veined white and orange tip butterflies are taking advantage and drinking in the sunshine.

We reached the access path to the standing stone, but are met by an angry mass of bramble and gorse. There is no way through this thorny tangle, so we headed into the nearby conifer woods. The trees are planted in neat straight lines and with no natural light and acidic soils there is no little undergrowth.

In a few places where a tree has fallen, carpets of wood sorrel have broken through the pine needles. Birds like wrens and chaffinches have made their home here, and they sing in surprise as we crash with human legs through the woods.

After a 20 minute search we see the stone and leave the forest. Colourful lichens and mosses add to its age and the view is amazing. Nearby there is another prostate stone and this was probably knocked over during the sowing of the trees.

This stone gets few visitors and even many locals are not aware of its existence. It must have been a huge community effort to erect this stone and it probably linked into the wider use of Mother Mountain with it cairn on top.

We left the stone and Harry still had the energy for more exploring, so we headed deeper along the track. Another species of bumblebee makes an appearance, an early garden with its orange tipped tail turned down. Hooded crows are warily feeding in a field and we heard a pheasant but he remained stubbornly hidden.

We stooped at another old house and growing out the front is a large ash tree. This is one of the few deciduous trees in an evergreen climate. This house is one is showing its age. We peer in through a large hole in the gable wall.

A swallow suddenly darts house and nature never leaves any structure empty for very long. The thatch roof has been replaced by sheets of tin and one gust of winter wind, will bring the whole structure crashing down.

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