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Fancy a stroll around Tollymore?
My name is Regan Shaw – I am a resident of Newcastle County Down in Northern Ireland. I’ve recently completed my first year at ulster university as an art and design foundation student. I’m continuing my studies at the Ulster University in September 2019 as a student studying textile art, design and fashion.
I have recently found my passion for photography and am hoping to combine both together in the future. Almost a month ago I purchased my first DSLR camera, and since this purchase I have very much improved on my photography skills. I have learned new techniques in photography and have managed to capture some fantastic moments in nature and the urban landscape that surround me.
From when I was a very small child my family have always taken me for adventurous walks around Tollymore Forest Park. The park is situated in Bryansford, not far from my hometown of Newcastle. Tollymore has got to be one of my favourite places to enjoy a short walk or long hike, and be able to take in the beautiful scenery it has to offer all year round, no matter what the weather brings. The park holds so many photographic opportunities down every trail you walk and round every corner you turn – there is always something new to capture. Tollymore is one of the most beautiful places, full of flourishing wildlife.
As you exit the carpark, you will begin this trek following the signs that will take you around a bend of trees and lead you towards the archway (illustrated in the image above).
This trek in Tollymore Forest isn’t just home to the eye-catching trees that structure the woodland, but also blooming flowers, including the attractive fox gloves, with their significant colour of rich purple.
Continuing walking you meet the Shimna River, which flows through the woodland of Tollymore Forest Park. This river marks an area which is great for photographers and photo opportunities. This section of the trek is my favourite as I like being near the river and also love photographing the element of flowing water.
Tollymore is home to different bridges which allow the visitors to cross the river and experience the other part of the woodland. Some of these bridges are from 50 to 100 years old. I think it’s interesting to see historical sights that we still use to this day to explore the woodland of Tollymore Forest Park. I believe we should appreciate this – the fact that the Mournes are home to history and culture is something that we can offer visitors from all over the world.
Continuing on your trek about 15 – 25 mins later you will come across the very well-known stepping stones of Tollymore Forest. These stones have been in images that represent and promote the Mourne Mountains and I can see why, as they are historical and eye-catching.
After the stepping stones you continue on the trek and eventually come across Parnell’s Bridge, which is about 5- 10 mins further on. The bridge was in fact named after Sir John Parnell, who visited Tollymore in the mid-18th century.
I found this a very enjoyable trek through the forest along the riverside and throughout. The beautiful nature I found there provided many opportunities for me to photograph along the way. This trek was the first place I ever tried out long-exposure photography with my new DSLR Camera.
I found this trek can be completed at any time of the day all year around. I would recommend this trek to anyone with any level of experience – children would also very much like this walk as it is very interactive and fun, from throwing stones and sticks into the river or taking a walk across the stepping stones or through the Hermitage along the way or taking a dip in the river for the adventurous people. Wildlife lovers can catch a glimpse of the elusive kingfisher, red squirrels and herons, to name a few animals native to the park.
Take care when crossing the stepping stones if it has been raining as they can be slippery.
Bring a snack with you as you may be in the park for an hour or more, and also bring water to keep you hydrated.
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