Thursday, 26 July 2012

Connemara Classics

The Twelve Bens and Central Maumturks provided two excellent walks over tough ground but in perfect conditions after which I headed east towards Dublin stopping once more in the secluded Slieve Bloom Mountains.
Rendezvous with Jan and both Pete's went smoothly despite the usual poor pick up arrangements at the airport and we headed south stopping en route to stock up for the week.
A camp site in Roundwood up in the Wicklows provided all the required ammenities and we tucked away in a corner with some privacy.
Lugnaquillia provided a memorable moment for Pete as he marked the completion of all the 3000' summits in Great Britain which made up for the limited visibility and dank conditions encountered on a demanding first day together.
Guinness was enjoyed in one of the villages five pubs - surprisingly the place claims to be Ireland's highest village.
Yesterday saw another circuit of tops in much improved conditions above the picturesque Glenmacnass waterfall and today we have completed a beauty including Mullaghcleevaun. Drama from the start included getting bogged whilst trying to park and being pulled off by a coach load of Czech girls (ooerr matron) but the lonely tops in hot sunshine made for a memorable day with excellent views across the Irish Sea and inland.
We have decided to nip across back to Connemara as the others have not been there so will decamp tomorrow with another week to go before returning to Dublin.

Photos here and locations here - Ireland's Google Earth seems less clear than elsewhere but it does give an indication of where we are.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Waiting Game

After a spell of low cloud and rain things cleared up briefly enabling me to walk the Glendaturk Horsehoe, cycle the Greenway (a converted railway line) and complete the Mweelrhea circuit of lonely tops in excellent conditions. A good ridge walk took in the conical summit of Croagh Patrick where I encountered dozens of others tackling the steep climb up from the coast - most suffering due to inadequate footwear, lack of fitness and the steep path across loose sharp scree. Two guys leading a trio of donkeys looked set to spend the night up there.

Wild pitching in some memorable spots was very much enjoyed and Radio 4 on LW provided evening entertainment.
The coast around Killary was sublime but the weather has closed in again briefly although an improvement is forecast - good news for the others travelling out next week.
Feedback from the HU meeting indicates that everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did and the guys from Oz I have kept in touch with are now crossing Turkey after a hair raising trip through Iran - check out
A lass from Switzerland we met in NZ was kindly welcomed to Bristol by friends there whilst attending an interview and enjoyed the harbour and docks which I intend to revisit during my week in mid August.
Over the next day or two I will loop around the coast towards Galway and then if the weather picks up return to the mountains for the Twelve Bens and Mamturks.
Piccies here, locations here and another post from Dublin next week all being well.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Rain Stops Play

Ireland has not escaped the deluges affecting the rest of the UK & since the meeting ten days ago I have been largely confined to quarters by wet conditions, low cloud on the tops & strong winds - all reminiscent of a trip to Northumberland in Summer 2007 - still I have managed the odd easy walk!
Irish schools have broken up so I feel sorry for the families trying to make the best of things but it is very quiet as people are staying put. Thus I have wild camped for almost a fortnight now & have followed the coast round towards Galway from where I will briefly revisit the Burren before crossing to Dublin to meet friends - I hope it picks up for them.
Still the time has given me cause to reflect on the last few months and following the HU meeting I feel inspired to plan for this winter and beyond - particularly as I seem to be as fit as a fiddle. Winter in Spain and Portugal to pick up the lingo should equip me for a longish trip to South America starting in about a year with some early summer walking in the Pyrenees planned for 2013.
After this trip I will be concerned with the Beast event, a major MBA work party and getting the van MOT'd and a new clutch fitted as part of planning for the SA trip.

The poor weather has precluded any worthwhile piccies from Eire so I have compiled a few images from years gone by as a celebration of my good fortune - they are pleasantly random and include a few classics and can be found here
Random locations are available from this link.

Another post from another McDonalds in a week or two.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Eire and there - unlimited horizons.

A quiet wild pitch at Strumble Head with the light sweeping round rhythmically saw me down to Goodwick in good time for the afternoon ferry across to Rosslare in damp but reasonably calm conditions. A newly purchased sat nav with full European coverage for the forthcoming year then delivered me to Mount Leinster where I spent a quiet night in foggy and mild conditions in the hope of  walking to the summit the next day. Continuing low cloud prevented this but as the day unfolded the clouds dissolved and I enjoyed a couple of historic sights before tucking myself away in the Slieve Bloom hills. A German outfit consisting of a coach towing a large trailer that served as a mobile hotel seemed to me at first sight to be the ultimate in impracticality but then again with a good crowd of say twenty mates ..............
The empty and peaceful tops provided a good walk in sunny conditions after which I stayed on a well presented site and met a couple from Brecon - the first of many 'small world' encounters this week.
Kilkenny provided more interest with its castle and other sights in the area including the several wonders of Fore - not to be missed. A wet and wild night in the Iron Mountains near the border led to a damp day so a planned walk was left for later and I dropped across said unmarked and invisible border to spend a day in Enniskillen with its impressive castle and museum displays.
For the weekend I joined the Horizons Unlimited get together as planned and enjoyed the event tremendously. Inspirational presentations by skilled and entertaining travellers gave us insights in to adventures in all corners of the globe with the South American coverage of particular interest. Practical talks and demonstrations combined with an excellent social side made for a successful gathering despite the poor weather. Whatever your mode of transport the chance to meet up, learn, absorb and be involved at similar events should be taken - small world encounters included input from individuals and companies in Ystradgynlais of all places and a biker from Perth who has trucked across the Nularbor over a hundred times. Saturday night's entertainment from local bands and dancers plus good food and organisation created an event to be proud of. As I had hoped it has inspired me for future years although I remain convinced that for me at least four wheels are better than two - most of the time. A massive thanks to all those who worked so very hard before, during and after the event.
So its off to the hills again staying in NI for a week or so, starting with the Sperrins and heading to the coast for a lazy drift anticlockwise over the 3 weeks until friends arrive in Dublin. 

Latest pictures appear here, locations here and the next post will depend on the availability of wifi once I leave Derry.

A milestone for the trusty van in the shape of clocking up a quarter of a million miles en route to Enniskillen gave me pause to recollect on the many adventures enjoyed whilst incurring half of that total - it has all been a total privilege and a wonderful set of experiences.
Incidentally a recent MOT for me recorded a cholesterol at 3.8, axle weight of 74kg,  oil pressure at 120/80 and revs ticking over steadily around 45 bpm so it looks like we may both have a few miles left in us yet.