Trailhead: Nine Stones, County Carlow
Services: Kildavin, Bunclody, Borris and Myshall
Distance/Time: 10.6km / approx. 3 hrs
Terrain: Forest tracks, hillside paths and minor roadways
Ascent: 20 metres
To suit: Beginner or experienced walkers
Minimum gear: Hiking boots, rain gear, fluids, snacks and mobile phone
OSI maps: OSI Discovery Series 68, 75 and 76. The Blackstairs, Mount Leinster and the Barrow Valley from East West Mapping www.eastwestmapping.ie
Type of trail: National Way Marked Trail – yellow arrow on black background
Emergency services: 999 or 112
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nine Stones Viewing Point provides an unrivalled vista of the rich and colourful Carlow countryside spread out like a tapestry before you. Eight counties can be viewed from this spot – Carlow, Laois, Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny and the mountains of Tipperary, and on a clear day the coast of Wales, to the east. On the lower side of the road, you will see an alignment of nine small stones in the ground. These are said to commemorate nine shepherds lost on Mount Leinster in some distant winter storm, hence the origin of the viewing point’s name.
The area contains extensive tracts of forest, owned by Coillte, Ireland’s commercial forestry company featuring mainly spruce, larch and fir.
Mount Leinster is the highest point of the granite-cored Blackstairs Mountains which reaches a height of 795 metres. An older name for Mount Leinster is Suidhe Laighen which in Irish means “the seat or meeting place of the men of Leinster”. At the summit you will find an old monument in the form of a large cairn. The people who lived in these regions c. 5,000 years ago often sought out prominent hill tops on which to bury and commemorate important members of their communities. The mast on top transmits national television and radio (RTÉ) to the region.
The rocks exposed around the Nine Stones are slates, preserving beds of quartzite and mudstone. Schists are exposed on nearby Slievebawn and Tomduff. The Blackstairs Mountains is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive for its extensive areas of dry heath.
Borris is a Georgian town whose old, granite houses and Victorian shop fronts have remained largely intact. At its heart is Borris House home of the Kavanagh family, direct descendants of the McMorrough Kavanagh dynasty, former Celtic Kings of Leinster. There are tours of Borris House available on selected days – see website for details www.borrishouse.com.
E-F: Continue on along the road from the Nine Stones car park which descends steadily passing two notable landmarks: the White Rock on your right and later the Scabby House on your left just after a cattle grid. Reach Tomduff Crossroads.
F-G: At Tomduff Crossroads, carry straight through two crossroad junctions. Nearby is the monument to the Tomduff Campfield, where a large force gathered in the 1798 rebellion. Continue downhill on a tarmac road to reach the T-junction of Cashel Crossroad. Turn right for a short distance and then left on a minor road.
G-H: From Cashel Crossroad, the road continues to descend. Keep left at the next junction and drop downhill to reach Spahill Crossroad where you turn right. The road soon drops on the final descent to the village of Borris. The disused but impressive Borris Viaduct comes into view, constructed in 1860 to carry the Great Southern and Western railway from Bagenalstown to Palace East in County Wexford. A 3.5km walk has been developed by Borris Tidy Towns, around and under the old railway viaduct offering stunning views back to the Blackstairs Mountains and Mount Leinster.
‘Leave no Trace’ Principles
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Be considerate of others
- Respect farm animals and wildlife
- Travel and camp on durable ground
- Leave what you find
- Dispose of waste properly
- Minimise the effects of fire
Practising a ‘Leave no Trace’ ethic is very simple. Make it hard for others to see or hear you and leave no trace of your visit.
For more information on County Carlow visit the Carlow Tours app, available as a free download from the Google App Store or log on to www.carlowtourism.com