Off the beaten track but well worth the jour­ney

Bray People - - NEWS - BY DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

COUNTY Wick­low tourist high­lights are typ­i­cally set along the east of the county but Rath­con Farm is work­ing hard to raise the pro­file of west Wick­low and the area’s nat­u­ral beauty.

Run by Der­mot Page and his fa­ther Richard, the busi­ness, which started off as a tra­di­tional fam­ily farm, boasts an eight-and-a-half acre man-made fly fish­ing lake as well as a clay pi­geon shoot­ing ground in a dis­used quarry.

‘My fa­ther was the driv­ing force be­hind it all and he built the lake in 1999. It is de­signed to look as nat­u­ral as pos­si­ble and it’s a fly-fish­ing only lake,’ Der­mot ex­plained.

Aimed at the more ex­pe­ri­enced fly-fisher, the lake is the per­fect lo­ca­tion for those who are se­ri­ous about their hobby.

Stocked with triploid rain­bow and brown trout, weigh­ing be­tween 1kg and 2kg, the lake is well stocked, but lev­els are set that it is still a challenge to catch a fish, which is what the keen fly-fisher is af­ter. doc­u­ment­ing and re­search­ing lo­cal his­tory, mix­ing sto­ries with facts, to make it a bit lively’ said Beatrice.

Her sto­ries in­clude the leg­end of the Deer Stone at Glen­dalough, in which St Kevin fos­tered a boy called Foelán. Fos­ter­ing be­gan when the boy was still a baby. To feed the baby, a doe came down from the moun­tain each day and waited un­til she had been milked by one of the monks. The child thrived and ul­ti­mately in­her­ited his fa­ther’s es­tate.

‘We en­cour­age as much fly life as pos­si­ble through the plant­ing of reed and rushes around the lake so the fish are nat­u­rally fed. Fly-fish­ers are al­lowed to keep a fish but most pre­fer to catch and re-

An­other site on Beatrice’s route are the me­galithic tombs in the Dublin Moun­tains. Known as the ‘gi­ant’s grave’, very lit­tle is known about the tombs, and how they could pos­si­bly have been built with no tech­nol­ogy and hardly any tools.

‘I do have a great in­ter­est in the moun­tains and their his­tory. How did peo­ple live? How did they make a liv­ing?’ said Beatrice. ‘ The cul­ture goes back so far and there is a wealth lease as the ex­pe­ri­ence and the challenge of the catch is what ap­peals to them the most.’

While many out­door pur­suits are sea­sonal, fly-fish­ing can be en­joyed all year round, although the sum­mer sea­son is a par­tic­u­lar draw due to a num­ber of events, a league and other com­pe­ti­tions.

‘It is a lovely spot and we will soon be look­ing to en­cour­age groups to come down to en­joy the bird life, ex­pert talks or to sit and sketch by the lake.’

A sec­ond at­trac­tion that Rath­con Farm of­fers is clay pi­geon shoot­ing, and this be­comes par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar ahead of the UK grouse sea­son and the pheas­ant sea­son from Novem­ber to Jan­uary.

‘We offer clay pi­geon shoot­ing in an old quarry at the back of the farm. We offer ex­pert tu­ition in the pack­age and in the sum­mer we do grouse sim­u­la­tion to give shoot­ers prac­tice.

Ac­cord­ing to Der­mot, Grange­con and the wider wwest­ern part of the county is largely undis­cov­ered and a true hid­den gem.

‘West Wick­low is re­ally off the tourist track as we know it. It has a dif­fer­ent land­scape but it is ab­so­lutely stun­ning. It’s so close to Dublin, only an hour away but the dif­fer­ence is mas­sive. You can’t hear the traf­fic, you can lis­ten to the birds and re­lax in a very peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment. Grange­con is a beau­ti­ful lit­tle vil­lage sur­rounded by rolling hills. There’s noth­ing bet­ter.’

Der­mot Page ex­am­ines the fly-fish­ing lake at Rath­con Farm in Grange­con.

St Kevin’s Church in Glen­dalough.

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