Science & Nature

Walks: Hellfire Club, Co Dublin

On Mount Pelier in the Dublin mountains, the Hellfire Club is a prominent landmark although trees obscure some views. From the carpark off the R 115 at Kilakee, follow the forest road winding its way to the summit. For shorter steeper routes, walk on the trails through the woods. Take care during Coillte forestry operations. Here and in nearby Massey woods there is a wide variety of trees: Sitka spruce, noble fir, Japanese larch, Douglas fir, sycamore, Spanish chestnut and Lawson cypress. Watch for heather, bilberry and furze, deer, squirrel and foxes.

Walks: High Savoy, France

Above the village of St Cergues, about an hour by car from Geneva, we started to walk in a French forest. It was baby Ruari's first mountain hike in an elaborate papoose which his parents took turns to carry on their backs. A notice- board asked visitors to respect the flora and fauna of this amenity area in Haute-Savoie, Savoy, formerly a separate state.

Derrylahan Nature Trail, Co Donegal

This waymarked route starts near the visitor centre in Glenveagh National Park. The walk takes about an hour on gravel and grassy paths, with limited access for wheelchairs and buggies. The trail traverses many habitats, including old oak woods, doire leathan, from which the trail is named. Observe the rich natural heritage and view Lough Veagh, the castle and Derryveagh mountains.

Walks: Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Street, Dublin 1

This peaceful place, ideal for reflective strolls, is dedicated to the memory of those who died for Irish freedom, especially in the 1916 Rising. President de Valera opened the gardens on Easter Monday, 1966 on the site of the Rotunda Vauxhall Gardens. Daithi Hanley's design reflects the Rising's themes. Liam MacUistin's prize-winning poem, "We saw a vision", is etched in Irish and English on the back wall. Human figures transformed into swans, recalling the Children of Lir legend, symbolise rebirth, victory and elegance.

Nature: Goodbye to all that

  • 12 April 2006
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In April we look forward to the arrival of the cuckoo and the swallow – the most notable of our summer migrants – to indicate that summer is on the way. But nature has other, perhaps less obvious, ways of demonstrating that the most welcome season is imminent. Summer can also be heralded by the departure of visitors that have been here all winter. Migration is a global phenomenon – a complete movement northwards of birds (and indeed mammals too, in Canada and in northern Europe and Asia).

Nature: All about the frogs

Have you noticed that every pond and ditch you look into is full of frogspawn? The recent mild, wet weather is obviou...

Walks: St Anne's Park, Dublin

This green oasis in the city's northern suburbs is full of surprises and amenities. The park of about 110 hectares was part of a larger demesne owned by the Guinness and Plunkett families. Dublin Corporation developed most of the land for housing but retained the scenic core as parkland.