So today we are in the Roe Valley Park, a gem of a place situated near Limavady, about 15 miles North West of The Liberties. The River Roe was where grandpa used to take us boys fishing, a lifetime ago. In those days there was reasonable chance of catching a fish - that's what grandpa called a salmon - but more likely a few trout or even a flat fish or two. If you were unlucky you'd get an eel - you'd think it was a salmon, as an eel puts up a terrific struggle. If you didn't act fast the eel would wind itself around a rock or a branch and you'd have to cut your line and lose your hook and weight. Even if you landed the eel it was a nightmare, as the thing would have your line wound round itself several times, so you usually had to cut the line anyway and retrieve the hook and sinker any way you could. Eventually the eel would get tossed back into the river, more often than not in several pieces. Nowadays top London restaurants would probably pay a small fortune for one, but in them days you just wouldn't consider eating one. No, it was salmon first, then trout and only if things were really bad did you bring back a few flat fish. If all else failed grandpa would juke into one of the adjoining fields and dig up a few carrots to bring home. Nowadays you just wouldn't dream of doing that, but somehow back then you didn't think twice. Strange looking back at it all, nearly 40 years later.
The Roe Valley is pretty magical, with a few very old oak trees still living there. Most of the oak around here were felled many years ago when the wood was used for building but the river cuts a deep valley through the surrounding rock and so this area largely escaped the wood-cutters' attention. In olden days (12th Century), this land belonged to the O'Cahan clan. The story goes that once upon a time, when the O'Cahan's were coming under attack, a faithful dog leapt over the river, from a high rock on one side to a rock on the other side in order to summon help from nearbouring allies. Today that leap is remembered - DogLeap Road, DogLeap Bridge, O'Cahan's Rock and even the name of the nearest town, Limavady, comes from the Irish Leim an Mhadaigh, meaning Leap of the Dog. What a great story.
Even the teenager managed to tear herself away from her phone for a few minutes to contemplate the beauty of it all: