In 2013 one of my New Years resolutions is to be healthier and lose weight; so to fit in with this I’m planning to do as much walking as possible. This is mainly because I hate the gym, I find it boring, but I absolutely love walking. However where I live, the chance to walk is limited in the winter months. The Irish countryside is indeed very beautiful, and I love living here; but having no paths, the roads can be very dangerous, especially during the dark winter months. So given the current time of year I’m limited to walking at the weekends.
On Sunday I decided to visit my local forest, Mullaghmeen Forest Park in County Westmeath. It’s only 10 minutes drive from where I live, but is a great place to go walking away from the roads. I plan to visit here more often after work when the evenings get lighter.
For those of you that are interested in photography, you will know what it is like leaving the house without a camera, it’s impossible; you feel like a part of you is missing ;-). So understandably, even though the main point of my outing was to get fit etc., I couldn’t go without some form of photographic equipment. I have a handy waist bag, which carries my DSLR and a couple of lenses, or as I do – a DSLR with lens, bottle of water, phone and other bits and bobs 🙂 . It’s handy as it doesn’t get in the way of a serious walk.
Anyway back to Mullaghmeen, I digress :-). It’s a beautiful forest and as it was my first power walk of the year I decided to do the ‘Red Walk‘ which is only 3km. A good starter I thought. Well the day was dull to start off with and I wasn’t sure whether there would be any photo opportunities; however things were changing….
I noticed that the dull grey was breaking to reveal a beautiful blue sky. I loved the contrast in colors, the way that the blue and grey were trying to battle against each other behind the silhouette of trees, was it the grey or the blue that was going to win?…..
At the moment the forest is still very bare and showing no signs of spring, winter still has a grip on nature, but I’m sure this will change very rapidly over the coming weeks. As I turned a corner, the sun finally made an appearance.
The majority of the trees in Mullaghmeen are Beech. It is reputed to be the largest planted Beech forest in Ireland, covering 1,000 acres.
The lighting was gorgeous and to be honest my camera was getting more use than my legs were ;-). But I was still pushing myself between stops.
The above shot took me slightly from the path as I was drawn to the way the sun was glistening on the leaves. I accentuated this slightly in photoshop using the diffuse glow filter, I like the dreamy effect this filter gives, but you have to be careful that you don’t overdo it 🙂 Although the colours were stunning in the forest, I had to try a black and white conversion.
The forest is owned and maintained by Coillte, Ireland’s leading forestry company. The paths in Mullaghmeen are fantastic and make access really easy.
As I drove out of the forest I noticed that storm clouds were starting to gather and the contrast between the land and sky was fantastic, so I couldn’t pass by without some more photographs.
I think I finished just at the right time 🙂
And yes as I’ve captioned the above picture, I was singing ‘Lets Face the Music and Dance’ by Nat King Cole as I took the picture 🙂