A-B. Leaving the trailhead, the trail follows a forestry track for 600 metres to a crossroads from where the loop proper begins. Turn right here.
B-C. The loop travels another 1km to reach the end of an old bog road. Here it turns left onto a woodland trail.
C-D. Now the loop passes through deciduous woodland and coniferous forestry to exit onto a forestry roadway. Turn left here.
D-E. Follow the forestry roadway for 1km before turning left and joining an access road to bogland. Climb a stile at a gateway and follow a grassy track for 300 metres before turning left, and crossing a short section of bog before joining a bog roadway where you turn right at an interpretive panel. After a short distance the loop turns sharp right and follows a track through a line of trees.
E-A. Exiting the trees, the loop turns left onto an old bog road again and for the next 2km circles a raised bog area. The loop rejoins the outward section at the crossroads mentioned at B above, where it goes straight and covers the final 600 metres to the trailhead.
Throughout most of history Irish bogs were impassable. To cross the wet, boggy terrain people built bog roads or ‘toghers’. In the 20th Century, as the bogs were exploited for fuel, thousands of important archaeological finds were made, including swords, jewellery, trumpets and human bodies (preserved by the acid nature of the bog).
Another interesting use of the bog was to keep butter cool during summer and there have been many finds of butter kept in wooden container called ‘methers’.
Girley Bog is a site of considerable conservation significance as it comprises raised bog, a rare habitat in Europe and one that is becoming increasingly scarce and under threat in Ireland. The loop covers a variety of landscape of forest and bogland and has been developed as an eco-walk with interpretive panels throughout. The early section traverses coniferous forestry planted on high bog, the trees are fast growing species (sitka spruce and lodgepole pine) that originate in North America. The main element of the loop is within the bogland where there is a wonderful variety of birdlife, plants and animals.
Dont forget to make time to visit Kells High Crosses.