Monday, 18 June 2012

Ireland 4 - squishy trails

On Saturday morning when we left Carrick-on-Shannon it was still drizzling lightly and a bit chilly. We headed for Boyle to see Boyle Abbey and then backtracked a few kilometres to stop in at the Forest Park, which came highly recommended. Our road then meandered North towards Bangor on a lovely quiet road.

We'd been told by a few people not to bother stopping in the 'middle' (between East and West) of the country nor the North West and to just head for the Galway / Connemara region and those South of this. Well, we've loved the middle and we love the North coast. This North-West area so reminds me of Patagonia.

We arrived in the afternoon and found a B&B. I got changed into running kit, donning a rain jacket as it looked like more rain would be arriving. Well - stunning! More in the pics below.

Wind harps in Carrick-on-Shannon. Mom heard them the previous afternoon so we made a stop past here on our way out of town. As the wind blows through the strings a beautiful harp sound is heard. There are a couple of strings in each 'harp' - could be steel strings? Beautiful. I want one at home.
Inside Boyle Abbey. Cool place.
Boyle Abbey. The one outside wall was leaning badly so they removed the supports (added later than the original wall to deal with the leaning way back when already). I just loved this new addition, which supports the wall and had been constructed to the same height, width and angle as the original exterior wall, which disappeared yonks ago.
So, we get to Forest Park. The wind is whipping up the lake - waves and white horses. There's a light drizzle intermittently. We decide to walk on what looks like a path route. And what do I spot? A permanent orienteering course marker! So, I go back to the info centre place and chat to the people, who don't know anything about it. But, they're helpful and the one guy looks online at the website of the organisation governing the park (I don't have my papers with me now... can't remember the name) and he downloads the medium distance course and prints it out for me. Just back and a white, but so perfect. Off mom and I go (this control wasn't for our course).
On the way to control #3. Some things in the area have changed - like the area from #1 to #2. I was a little confused by the new trails around the kiddie ropes-tree thing (and I didn't have a compass). Let's just say that mom got a little more 'no-trail-straight-through-forest-and-scratchy-plants' than I'd planned for our outing.
Looking for Control #3. I'm 100% certain we were in the right place (I found all kinds of other features that were on the map) but just couldn't find the control.
Control #9. We didn't do the full course - kinda made up our own sections. Helluva fun.
Early on the Bangor Trail. That's Bangor behind me. This is a seriously historic trail. People from this area and more North would walk the trail - about 36km - through to Newport. From here they'd catch a boat to Galway and then climb on a steamer to cross the Atlantic to the U.S. of A.We met a chap in Bangor who was going to do the trail on Sunday (he got fabulous weather - sun too!) and then catch a bus and then train from Newport back to Dublin on Monday morning. With daylight until 22h30 he would have loads of hours to complete the trail. It is nasty, peat, boggy, wet, squishy terrain but it is also really good fun. I'd love to run the whole stretch.
I tried to keep my feet clean and dry for the first 200 metres. Like this and much, much worse the whole way. At one point I ended up thigh deep in boggy stuff. Smelly too! Almost lost my shoes a few times and was quite often calf-knee deep.
A trail marker on the Bangor Trail. Looking back-ish towards Bangor.
Panoramic from the Bangor Trail looking West-ish.
A new trail marker pointing the way. You know how it goes with trail exploration... so I got to the point where the trail curved around a spur. And then I saw this - the trail heading up and over and so I decided to head over there to see what is on the other side... A pretty valley and other mountains. Worth the run, definitely. Did get caught in a dash of the approaching rain. It looks so looming but when it gets to you the rain is soft and gentle. The wind was a bit worse but not even close to a torrential highveld storm.
Gaining height on the section drawn on my previous photo. The start of the line in the background is about from where I took the previous photo.
A really, really good outing. Not sure of the distance but I was out playing for a bit more than 90 minutes, which was good fun.

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