Autumn in Erriff Woods

It is said that the native forests of Ireland were once so extensive that a squirrel could cross from one side of Ireland to the other without touching the ground. We now have one of the lowest densities of woodland cover in Europe. Here and there are scattered fragments of those ancient woodlands, such as here on the banks of the Owenmore River in County Mayo.

Sessile oak on the banks of the Owenmore River, Erriff Woods, County Mayo, Ireland.

This remnant of old-growth sessile oak is tucked away in the Erriff Valley at the northern foot of Maumtrasna Mountain. It isn’t hard to find though, and you pass right through the northern edge of it on the N59 Westport-Lennane Road. It is a remarkable place for photography with vaulted corridors of old, gnarled trees dripping with moss, ferns and lichen.

This isn’t the image I’d been chasing – a consolation prize on a cold November afternoon with the rain beginning to blow in from the nearby Atlantic. The shot I was after required a small mountain stream that flows down through the woods to be brim-full with water. Not on this occasion – the water runs off the mountains here within a couple of hours of rain stopping. I’ll certainly be back though.

This is a stitched panorama from several exposures on a Canon 5D mk2 and 17-40mm lens.