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Autumn in Belleek

Gliding over the still, high water of the River Moy, the lone kayak looked as if it was skimming across a painter’s landscape. Beneath beech, sycamore, birch and willow, the reflected autumnal hues of red, yellow, russet and gold were smeared across the river like strokes from a watercolourist’s brush; and the mirror trunks of trees were obliquely growing out of the murky depths.

Autumn is the time that Belleek Wood puts on its most spectacular show of the year, a briefly brilliant flamboyance that is best enjoyed from the Quay village side of the Moy when an autumnal bonfire of reds and golds burn brightly opposite the blinding glare of the rising sun.

One of the many streams that criss-cross Belleek Wood, Ballina. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Socialising, such as it is, in this second Covid Lockdown is all outside. From the river’s east bank along the Quay, walkers, joggers and those enjoying a morning coffee from the popular Boho Barrista mobile cafe savour the full flavour of a Belleek Wood technicolour autumn.

Nature’s symmetry and continuity abound in this woodland scene that could only be truly captured on a great landscape painter’s canvass. A riparian scene framed by the bronzed heads of the golden reeds along the river bank, crowned with a procession of tall pines in their forest green, and all complemented by the cornflower blue of the cloud-dotted sky.

Up by the Ice House Hotel, a young heron swiftly glided to a perfect landing midstream before immediately diving to collect his morning snack. The unmistakable sound of piping oystercatchers hurriedly heading in the opposite direction grabbed my attention as the tightly packed flock winged their way down the estuary in search of better pickings in their old haunts at Enniscrone or Kilcummin.

Autumn in Belleek Wood from the Quay, Ballina. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The morning would not be complete without a walk through the woods where beech leaves twirled down from the forest canopy, slowly spinning like a golden rain shower in the autumn sunlight. Along the well-trodden trails, it’s all wet and decay underfoot and fungi flourish, but in the margins, the drier banks are puffed up in pillows of leaves in all the many rich hues of their final glory.

On this day, the rain had swollen the many streams that criss-cross Belleek Wood. The gurgling sounds of miniature waterfalls cascading over rocky boulders through tangled woodland; a soothing sound on my walk under tree tunnels. A chequered trail ahead; quilted patterns of light and shadow as lancing shafts of sunlight dissected the path.

The declining angle of the sun foreshadows winter.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

3 replies on “Autumn in Belleek”

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