ONCE MORE - WITH FEELING
Kilbroney - true land of mists and mellow fruitfulness—lush wooded hills, verdant valleys, nestling towns and villages, sparkling lough. A contrast from the wilder, higher western Mournes but gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous for slightly gentler walks. A frequent tramping ground for me and dog --- and now also the playground for some Mourne improvers
I was highly alarmed one afternoon by the throaty growl and low crawl of the collie—what was round the next corner on our descent from Slieve Martin ---? What the dog presumably saw as giant sheep or perhaps aliens, until she managed to have a good sniff and pee, were in fact two large boulders which had been transported from somewhere else, presumably by large and expensive machinery and plonked on the path, narrowing it considerably. Why? Public art? To be fair, said boulders have now been dragged back into the hillside, I suppose by another visit of the large expensive machinery, which also seems to have been employed in widening parts of the path by about six inches (Eh?) and then churning some of said path into a mucky mess. In this case the path is doing its best to recover and soon there might be no sign of the “improvement”.
Other walks have revealed concentric shale paths constructed 'round Slieve Meel, about three quarters way up. More public art to be viewed from the sky? No, “ for bikes” a friend explained.
This may be a good idea, rescuing the mountain from becoming a corrugated cone, but tame shale paths and the psyche of extreme bikers may not always mix .
Other “works” consist of the construction of a series of rambles through the heather, some saccharinely twee, complete with little “Billy Goats Gruff” type wooden bridges (must have got a job lot, as they’re springing up all over Mournes). I half expect some garden gnomes to take up residence.
Paradoxically these latter are probably defensible in terms of access to short walks in this recreational area.
However, what I would like to know is - where is all this money coming from especially at a time when many other public projects are being cut to ribbons? Who decides? Prioritises? Monitors? Audits? I don’t remember any public discussion similar to that now taking place re proposed National Park?
I am absolutely not a utilitarian, and I do believe in attempting to preserve our environmental heritage, but many of these improvements appear to have the same relationship with the public purse as my lovely Ralph Lauren cardi has with my personal finances—i.e. much loved by purchaser and opinions of boring nay–sayers not sought--- but necessary? I dunno!!