Lough Carra in County Mayo, is a 1,500 hectare marl / limestone lake, located around 16 km straight south from Castlebar. On its eastern shore lies the ruined Moore Hall, a former ‘big house’, home now to an important population of Lesser Horseshoe Bats.
While the land around Moore Hall is now owned by Coillte, and therefore unfortunately mostly planted with non-native conifers, nevertheless, the area is a pleasant one for walking and is particularly child-friendly, being pretty much flat all around. Indeed, there is an on-site car park, which is no harm either when you have the children along for a stroll.
You’ll be tempted to walk inwards and away from the lake, along the path which completes a circle around the ruins of the big house. This is a nice walk and you can divert into the middle of the circle to view the house itself. Take in the old service tunnel behind the house – the kids will love it! But don’t forget to turn around at the car park and face the lake. Walk to the right, across a small bridge on the narrow road and then turn immediately left, over a stile and continue in through this largely broadleaf wood, down to the lake shore. It’s in many ways nicer.
Lough Carra is a special place for Mayo, a largely species poor county. The lake shore abounds with wildflowers, among them such beauties as the Spring Gentian (more associated with Clare’s Burren region) and numerous types of Orchid, including Bird’s Nest, Bee and Fly. Mammals include 8 species of Bat, Red Squirrel, Pine Marten, Stoat and Otter.
For more information on Lough Carra in County Mayo, look at this website about the lake’s ecology and biodiversity developed by Chris and Linda Huxley, who live down there. Indeed, they have also published this beautiful photographic book of the lake.