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Hello and welcome to this weekend’s walk.

We have been so lucky with the weather over the last few days, let’s enjoy the sunshine so come along with me on a stroll to visit the ancient Proleek Dolmen.
You will only need your comfortable walking shoes today – wait until you see the lovely route that we will take , and we are blessed with hardly a cloud in the sky .

Today’s walk will take place in the grounds of the four star Ballymascanlon House Hotel that is located a few miles outside the town of Dundalk, in the north east of Ireland.
We drive through the gates of the estate that extends to about 130 acres, and I’m told it was first settled back in 833 AD.
We can park beside the hotel building – the original dates back to the Victorian era, and, in more recent times it’s been extended and developed to become a really popular destination.
Now here’s the thing – our route to the Dolmen is a right of way, so we don’t have to be hotel guests and are free to enjoy the beautiful grounds as we walk along !

Our first footsteps bring us to the Victorian walled garden – the roses are in full bloom and the place looks fabulous. We then round the corner and can see the old coach house and stables that were once part of the estate. Have a look at the flowers, trees and perfectly manicured gardens!!
As we head toward the dolmen we can enjoy the wild life and woodlands before we have to cross the golf course .. watch out for stray balls.. but luckily there are no golfers about !
It takes us about ten minutes of leisurely walking before we reach the Proleek dolmen , and boy isn’t it impressive.

It is said to date from around 3000 BC, and consists of two portal stones and a lower back stone. There is a massive capstone above, and this is estimated to weigh about 40 tonnes !
The Dolmen faces north west and is thought to align with other ancient structures nearby. Originally built as a tomb, cremated remains and precious ornaments such as tools, beads and pottery were placed beneath the capstone and the whole structure was covered over. How these builders were able to move such huge stones is a wonder.

Can you see that there are many , many small stones sitting on top of the dolmen ?? ….there is a local legend that if a visitor can land three stones atop the capstone, they will be granted a wish, or be married within the year !!
Nearby there is another ancient tomb- technically known as a wedge shaped gallery grave  and more locally known as a ” Giants grave ” we can see where the passage to the inner chamber stood and we can get a real understanding of the huge effort that was taken to construct these monuments. Long ago the whole grave would have been covered by stones and a mound, but over the centuries the smaller stones have been carried off to build houses and weather and erosion has taken its toll.

Having savoured these sights, lets re trace our footsteps and head back to where we started from – luckily the golf course is still deserted, and we have the place to ourselves. we can her the breeze rustle the leaves of the trees and the call of the blackbirds. It’s simply lovely to be able to enjoy these beautiful grounds.
I hope that you have enjoyed coming along with me today and stay well until next time. Stephen

Take care and all the best, Stephen

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