Christmas walk in Clare Glen - 2011

Despite cold weather and some ice on the road leading up out of the car park those of us more concerned about our fitness and walking with friends than we are about our coiffure and dress enjoyed a good walk in and around Clare Glen.

Anybody seen my sleigh?Has anybody seen my sleigh? Jim is accosted by a man tethered to a Siberian husky (Russian: Sibirskiy haski) and a Canadian husky (Canadian: Canadian husky). Huskies are a dense-coat working dog. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family and they are immensely strong. The Siberian husky (right) is recognisable by its thickly furred double coat, sickle tail, erect triangular ears, and distinctive markings.

Despite appearances, the dogs were very friendly although, just to be sure, Jim removed whale blubber from his sandwiches before approaching them. "It makes a welcome change from turnips", he assured me.

Anybody seen my sleigh?Dippers spotted in Clare Glen. During our walk along Clare Glen we spotted a couple of dippers - not members of the group cooling off by Cinclus cinclus, a short-tailed, plump bird with a low, whirring flight. When perched on a rock it habitually bobs up and down and frequently cocks its tail. Its white throat and breast contrasts with its dark body plumage.

It is remarkable in its method of walking into and under water in search of food. This is a perfect habitat for them - they are usually to be found along fast-flowing rivers, frequently in upland areas. Look for tell-tale droppings on stones in the river. They can be seen all year round and eat a healthy diet of insect larvae and freshwater shrimps.

Weir at Clare GlenWeir on the Cusher River. The Cusher is formed by the junction, near Mountnorris, of two small streams (the Creggan and the Blackwater); it flows through Clare Glen and by Tandragee, joining the River Bann one mile above Portadown - the start of the Newry Canal inland navigation. The Cusher River supplemented water to the lower part of the system system.

In the 19th century there were extensine flax mills, as well as flour, oat and corn meal mills on the Cusher River in the Tandragee area this weir would have held back water to feed one of the water courses providing power to these mills.

A very early water mill, reputedly dating back to the 17th century, can still be seen at the car park where we started our walk. In June 2008, at Tandragee, hundreds of trout and roach died after pollution was released into the Cusher River.

Bracket Fungus Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi, among many groups of the fungi in the phylum Basidiomycota. Spotted here in Clare Glen with a bed of moss, characteristically, these fungi produce shelf- or bracket-shaped fruiting bodies called conks that lie in a close planar grouping of separate or interconnected horizontal rows. Brackets can range from only a single row of a few caps, to dozens of rows of caps that can weigh several hundred pounds.

They are mainly found on trees (living and dead) and coarse woody debris, and may resemble mushrooms. Some form annual fruiting bodies while others are perennial and grow larger year after year. Bracket fungi are typically tough and sturdy and produce their spores, called basidiospores, within the pores that typically make up the undersurface.

horse shoe shamrockLucky horeshoe shamrock. fashioned out of old horse shoes, this intersting shamrock motif was spotted on gateposts at a farmhouse along the route of our walk. When kept as a talisman, a horseshoe is said to bring good luck. Many believe that to hang it with the ends pointing upwards is good luck as it acts as a storage container for any good luck that happens to be floating by, whereas to hang it with the ends pointing down, is bad luck as all the good luck will fall out. Others believe that the shoe should be hung the other way, as it will then release its luck to the people around it. The choice is yours!

Lets hope these examples bring luck to those that live in the house and those that just pass by.

Tina looks the other wayRare sighting of walking group photographer. Standing by the weir with a couple of friends, this is a rare sighting of our resident photographer and erstwhile web site designer. Tina is unimpressed by his presence and choses to look the other way perhaps, like the rest of us, looking forward to a spot of lunch.

Jim hails a taxi. Jim hails a taxi. Or perhaps he's waving a big stick at the stragglers, keeping him back from lunch. Meanwhile the girls, led as usual by Millie, wait patiently further along the road for the boys to catch up.

David Leonard

Sadly, David Leonard, Davy to his many friends in Cedars Walking Group and pictured second from the left in this photograph, passed away suddenly at home on Thursday, 19th April 2012. He had only joined the group September 2011 but was always willing to help out and had completed a training programme so that he could drive the mini-bus for the group. He will be missed by all of us and remembered especially for his enthusiasm and infectious sense of humour.

Four boys in blue