During a stormy weekend, we decided to go for a gravel cycle in Arigna and cycle among the giant windmills located on Carrane hill. A steady climb brought us from our house towards Carrane Hill, a 458 meter high hill which provides views across County Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and on a clear day as far as Mayo.
With its location being basically in our backyard, we have been calling it our outdoor playground for the last 20 years. Within Arigna, we can cycle approx. 20km on wide forest and gravel roads with some tough climbs thrown in along the way. The only companion you will find within Arigna valley are the many sheep, deer and foxes and the many giant wind turbines which stand tall among the huge conifers.
After a steady climb, we reached Carrane Hill bog where we took a short break and admired the views towards the Ox Mountains and Benbulben.
Following the old bog road towards Carrane Hill, we felt the power of the cold April headwind, making our progress slower than expected.
And looking around us, it isn't hard to see why 100's of wind turbines grace the flanks of the hills around us, utilizing the exposed hill flanks to capture the power of the wind.
Turning left along an old track, we descended fast into the belly of the forest where the trees provided us with welcome shelter from the wind.
With the exception of sheep, deer and the odd fox or badger, there isn't anybody else to disturb the peace of this long forgotten area.
Where the area was once known for its coal mining industry, it is nowadays a peaceful area where amazing scenery and quietness provide you with a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The mining industry provided many local families with much needed work in an area which didn't suit itself to agriculture due to the harsh environment, but depletion of the mines resulted in the end of this industry in 1990. Since then, a very interesting museum opened its doors providing you with the opportunity to retrace the footsteps of those miners. Walking through the old mining tunnels, it isn't hard to see and experience the tough conditions which existed in these remote parts of Leitrim ( https://www.arignaminingexperience.ie/ ).
Climbing out of the valley along a wide forest track, we reached Garvagh Glebe wind farm which exposed us again to the strong Westerly wind.
Descending back towards home, we rolled into our gate and enjoyed some well-deserved lunch.
Afterwards, we sat down and watched the Tour of Flanders. Watching the racers climb their way across the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, we reflected back on the beautiful cycle we completed that morning.
One thing the lockdown has taught us is to appreciate our own area, rediscover the small forest roads and bog roads and admire the beautiful scenery.