The Obelisk, with the Mourne Mountains as a backdrop, as I started out on a cold October morning.
I had never been to Tollymore Forest Park before, but I had always intended to pay a visit, and Autumn seemed the perfect time to take the trip to Co Down. As I arrived in the car park on a cold October morning, it was immediately impressive, with some picturesque old architecture, and things only got better as I made my down through the woods to the banks of the Shimna River. I ended up only walking a few kilometers and seeing only a fraction of the park as there was so much to photograph, and I found myself constantly distracted, diverted and stopping to take images. I’ll post a few of the first images that I’ve processed, and I’ll definitely follow up with a few more posts.
On this visit, I mainly stuck to the river banks, where there was plenty to see, including the many old bridges crossing the Shimna River. One of the first I encountered, and maybe the most attractive, was Foleys Bridge, dating from 1787. “Tolkienesque” is a word that is probably overused, and I’m as guilty as anyone, but it really did seem fitting for this location, putting me in mind of my idea of places like The Old Forest, Mirkwood or Rivendell from the book at various times. It is no wonder that the park is used sometimes for filming Game of Thrones in the same genre.
Foleys Bridge, making me think of Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings. Probably my favoutite photo of the day.
I continued exploring along the river, but making slow progress due to the stunning Autumn colour and other sights. Several times I found myself crossing paths with a group on a field trip from a photography HND, with their tutor, from Dungannon College. I enjoyed talking with them, and hope some of them stumble across this blog sometime – I’d love to see some of their images from the day.
An old tree stump, providing a habitat for fungi, overlooking the river.
The Shimna, cutting a deep gorge in places.
The oldest bridge in the park, approriately named “Old Bridge”, built in 1726.
Every turn revealed some new fascintating sight. This eccentric folly is known as The Hermitage, and is a sort of grotto built from stone, half embedded in the walls of the gorge and almost overhanging the river. It was built in the 1770’s by James Hamilton as a memorial to his friend the Marquis of Monthermer.
There are several wooden footbridges in addition to the old stone bridges, this one above a narrow cascade.
The shaded setting and cascading river is perfect for slow shutter speeds.
One of two places where the river is crossed by stepping stones – a much photographed feature of the park.
A fantastically twisted old tree overhanging another great little cascade that stopped me in my tracks again.
Practically in the river for this shot!
A long exposure of swirling patterns in the water.
This is an intial selection of the many photos I took, which in turn are just from the fraction of the park I was able to explore on this trip – definitely a place that deserves further visits.