Sunday, July 29, 2018

Maine morning

mom and at Ocean Point resort

Good morning from Ocean point resort. Our first day of kayaking started out sunny and then the fog rolled in. By the end of our 12 km kayak the fog was  thick  and the air was hot and moist. A bit spooky on the calm water (swells earlier)  the tolling of belled  buoys and blasts from a ferry’s foghorn and breakers on an invisible shore. 


This morning yhe clouds and fog have left. 
  


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wicklow way Day 5 - Cronewoods Parking Lot Area to Eden House Pub

overview map. Cronewoods to the end

Today is our final day on the Wicklow Way and we have been told that it is supposed to be a pretty section of the Way. We took a taxi to just beyond the parking lot, to avoid the 2.5 km walk on a narrow paved road, and hoisted our packs at 09:10 under once again clear blue sky.


We quickly joined a path that would run alongside of a river for a time before curling around fields of bracken for a kilometer or so. Pretty walking and apparently popular too. Too bad it would not last. Soon we found ourselves making a short modestly steep ascent up to a forest road which we would follow  along with our attendant hoard of sometimes-biting but alway annoying flies. The most interesting thing about this stretch of trail were the three horse riders we passed heading in the other direction. 


We passed by, or near at least, a hostel that is definitely used by walkers. We had met a couple heading in the other direction already and soon would catch up with a troop of English scouts who had stayed there the night before and were also heading in our direction.  We had been walking either forestry roads or minor paved roads now for upwards of 5km.

Last biew of Wicklow Mountains
We entered, I believe, Charlestown woods and began a steady gradual ascent along more forestry road. This forest has been denuded to a degree so isn’t that pretty. You get a view now and then looking back to the Wicklow Mountains and ahead towards Dublin but it’s not great. Worse today because it was hazy.  The forestry road would take us to a stretch of rocky (big boulder steps)trail that slowed me down a lot. It didn’t bother the trail runners who zoomed on by heading down. It isn’t precisely hard just slow going as you step from large rock to large rock over a stretch of a few hundred meters. Views would appear now and then but I am sure we were expecting better as we approached the top.


As the rocks came to an end they were replaced by gravel path with big  gaps seemingly every 20 meters. Most people will just step over them with a smile.  I had my usual pause, plant pole, step over, and keep going style of travel. Along this stretch of a kilometer or two we saw many people out for a day walk. It is easy walking but not really all that eye catching.


Off the top and on to another forestry road and down we went. The sky had actually clouded up a bit and a tiny nip was in the air. Not enough to really be a bother but a change in the weather we had been seeing. We  continued on down, decending gradually, and leapfrogging with the scouts and a French lady we had stayed with at Coolakay House. Down and down. 


The Way would eventually pass over a stream, we had been wondering when, and we would start moving through farmlands and more prosperous seeming places for a time. That forestry road would end and we would begin a long slog along first a quiet and then, for much longer, busy paved road. The directions let us down here.  Perhaps we just read them badly but we walked along that nasty road for something like 1.8km. This is an awful bit of WIcklow Way and I hope they come up with a way to get it off the road.


The climb away from the road towards Fairycastle is nice enough as it follows a gravel-based path that has some rocks scattered about for good measure. You get some vistas though they don’t really count as eye candy. It starts with a steady modestly steep climb but soon levels out as it crosses the tops. Breezy and cooler up there as well as popular.   I enjoyed the level bits and ascent but the gradual descent had just enough chasm-sized gaps to slow me down and be annoying.  As we neared the end of this bit, somewhere around kilometer 16 of the day, we had been hearing the roar of the M50 for a while. That is sad. 

heather fields of Fairycastle

Dublin and the Irish Sea
It’s a shame you have to pound down the forestry road from the end of this path for a good 1.5km to reach a carpark where I am sure many who do the hike as a day trip park. It is enough of a descent that you notice it and would really feel it on the ascent up. 


The Wicklow Way continues past the carpark  soon joining a minor paved road and then bigger paved roads.  The M50 roars in the dsitance and we push on and on along the paved roads. 3.5km and more along the roads to Marlay  Park where the directions are less than ideal for helping get you through  the park. To be brutally honest if I were doing this again I would try to get a taxi at the carpark and call it a day and end of hike there. Those last 3.5km or so sucked. Why Sherpa/Footfalls has us end at Eden House is a bit of a mystery. I suppose it is because it is a pub and taxis can find it easily. 


This last day was nothing special. I am glad it  wasn’t our first day. The slog on the paved roads and then steady climb up the forestry road to the path that then leads to the Fairycastle tops would have been a real drag. That portion, to be fair, is quite pretty and it is open and covered in heather.  While not in bloom the heather gives the space a soft look. 


Marlay Park is a nice park and clearly a place where many things from families having fun to major concert events take place. I think we would have enjoyed it more if we hadn’t first had to plod under and past the M50 for so seemingly long a time. The group of food trucks though with one selling , a bit overpriced, ice cream though was a welcome surprise which we took advantage of.


Stats: 22.4km. 600m ascent; 650m descent. The climbs come in two big hills first to the Charlestown woods tops and Faircastle tops. Descents are off those tops with the biggest being after Faircastle. A couple of short modestly steep and rocky bits but generally easy going. The 1.8km paved (and busy) road walk just before you ascend on path to Fairycastle is no fun at all. Weather: Mostly sunny with a bit of overcast now and then. Highs on the tops were in the mid-70s and warmer down below.


Photos

  1. Overview map. Cronewoods to eden House Pub.
  2. Climbing up to the tops of Charlestown Forest (I think) with a last view of the WIcklow Mountains fading into that smoky haze.
  3. The tops of Fairycastle are covered with fields of heather. The trail is hardpacked dirt with rocks now and then and gaps, probably for water and erosion control, sprinkled in along the way. Pretty in its way but if the weather turned foul you would want to hustle off this open country as quickly as you could. The people in the background are some of the young folks out on a scouts trip.
  4. Mom and Dad gazing at our first really good view of the Dublin Mountain and outskirts of Dublin. Too bad we could hear the roar of the M50 while we look out towards the city and Irish Sea.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Wicklow Way Day 4 - Roundwood to Coolakay House

overview map. Roundwood to Coolakay House


Our unusually warm and clear weather is continuing. We , along with another couple, piled into a car to be driven to Roundwood . This was an unexpected change in our plans that we had learned about the night before when we arrived at the Riverside B&B. By shuttling to Roundwood we would skip about 4km of roadwalk on admittedly small tarmac roads but roads all the same. Purists will no doubt decry our skipping this bit but we aren’t purists and we aren’t even doing a through-hike (sorry thru-hike).  Driving the narrow twisty roads is an experience in its own right so we just got something a bit different to enjoy. At 09:40 we hoisted our packs onto our backs and set off on the Wicklow Way bound for Coolakay House about 19km away (16.5km on the Wicklow way).


Easy walking along a lane and then through fields with many bales of hay. Gradually ascending as we went. It was enjoyable going. The 3km of forestry roadwalk with views looking down on the reservoirs near Roundwood that help supply water to the southern areas of Dublin was also nice enough. Maybe a bit bland but nice enough.  We started encountering people out for day hikes as we headed onward. This is clearly a popular area though I suspect being a Saturday and a lovely morning doesn’t hurt. When we reached a busy paved road , R759, we found quite a few people and parked cars in various little lots strung along the route.   Dad probably left his knife there after using it to cut some moleskin for a hot spot on his baby toe. (We just discovered this loss when looking to cut our baguettes for today’s sandwiches.)


Maybe everyone was heading to the same places we were but we saw paths leading off in other directions too so we just don’t know. Our route took us into deep dark, seemed to be a common theme, forest. The trail follows an old sunken lane gradually ascending through the trees. The trail uses boardwalk in this section. The boardwalk is, once again, studded with innumerable studs in a mesh. I suppose the combination of aging boardwalk and mesh gives it the rubbery feel because the studs are akin to giant metal staples. I still don’t like this type of anti-slip set up.  However, walking through the dark forest was quite nice.


We popped out in a denuded area that while void of trees was full of fields of heather on either side. The gravel path was easy to follow and it gently dropped us down for a time. Big views of open countryside as the morning wore on and the wind seemed to increase in intensity.

Lake Tay

boatdwalk forever
Soon we were at the next stretch of boardwalk. This section, easily 2km in length, would take us up and up and up. We would pass by the J.B. Malone Memorial Monument where we took a break. We would gaze out towards Lake Tay.  Look out on lands that I think were once home to some of the Guinness family (maybe still are). Listen to the dozens of people chatting who were also walking the endless boardwalk. A great midday under clear blue skies with moderate temperatures in the mid-70s and a breeze brisk enough to actually make you feel cool. If the weather turns foul up here around White Hill it would be bad indeed.


The boardwalk continues up and over for quite a lengthy stretch.  But in time does come to an abrupt end. At this point we began descending into the teeth of the breeze. Working our way down Djouce mountainside. The path at this point gets quite narrow, perhaps 12 inches wide, and is certainly the most “trail-like” we have seen so far. It is also quite busy with people going in both directions. 


Another stop to eat a bit more lousy lunch food (a definite weakness these past few days) before continuing our descent on the trail to a forestry road that would drop us steadily, ruts and all, down towards the Dargle River.  That road would end with us joining a path strewn with rocks that dropped more steeply to the Dargle River itself. Not particularly pleasant walking but at least the scenery was good. In fact, this day has had the greatest variety of scenery and hiking conditions so far and that helps make it a very good day indeed.

Ken

Mom

Dad

Dargle River vslley

It took between 7 and 8 minutes for Dad and me to climb the couple hundreds meters of trail to the top where Mom was waiting for us. She got a head start on the downhill. From there we would have one final long descent along path and forestry road that would lead in and out of lovely forests affording us occasional views of Powerscourt Waterfall. This was something more heard than seen. The water rumbled on down and we heard scores of voices in the distance. People playing at the bottom of the waterfall. Too bad our hike didn’t take us in that direction because I bet it was nice down there. Instead we pushed on along the road through a recently burned, just a couple days ago, section of woods. We had seen forest fire earlier in the day burning way in the distance too. Down we went. The temperature rising and the wind quieted. We felt our energy levels ebbing as  we approached the carpark, Cronewoods car park,  that marked the end of the Wicklow Way part of the hike. It was probably about 16:10 and plenty of cars and people were about. In fact we lucked out big time here.


We still had 2.5 to 3km to hike along narrow tarmac roads to reach Coolakay House. A taxi pulled into the lot and let some walkers out. Dad went over to see if the driver would take us to Coolakay House. He was willing and we got in. What a stroke of luck because I suspect walking those last couple kilometers would have been a real drag. But it did throw off the GPS track I was recording so my stats aren’t quite ideal (minor gripe indeed). This was a lovely day to be out and I can see why this portion of the Wicklow Way would be popular among people out for a day.


Stats: 16.5km hiked with about 450m ascent and 550m descent. With the exception of the steep bit out of the Dargle River valley everything is pretty gradual. Th descent down to the Dargle is rocky and a bit steeper but not really bad. Weather: clear blue skies all day long. On the tops with the wind blowing around 15MPH you could feel a bit cool as temperature were in the mid-70s. I wonder if that touch of coolness in the wind was from the Irish sea that we could spot way off, perhaps 10-12km, in the distance.


Photos

  1. Overview map. Roundwood to the Crone Carpark. Generally heading south to north.
  2. Mom and Dad in the hay bale strewn field.
  3. A view from the J. B. Malone monument.  Lake Tay below. 
  4. The boardwalk that seemed to go forever. 
  5. Lunch spot on Djouce Mountain slope.
  6. Ken. Nearing the Dargle River. Photo by Mom. 
  7. Mom in the same place. Photo by Dad. 
  8. Dad at that place. Photo by Mom. 
  9. The thin line is a portion of the Wicklow Way we just descended to the Dargle River. The climb out is about 300 vertical feet over at most a quarter mile distance but lijely less. Photo by Mom. 


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wicklow Way Day 3- Glenmalure to Riverside B&B

overview map. Glenmalure to RiversideB and B

If their was anything really active and noisy, like live music, happening during the evening at Glenmalure Lodge none of us noticed. I fell asleep before sunset. I had to contend with being awake for a time in the middle of the night but I still slept quite well.  We had our hearty breakfasts at 08:00 and shouldered our packs and were ready for the trail by 09:00: a good start given the timing of things. 


We said goodbye to the 2 Dutch couples, clearly quick strong hikers - just look as those long legs, who would catch up and pass us in short order. We left the lodge under clear blue skies that promised, yes again, superb weather that would be on the warm side. The Wicklow Way would wind its way gently along forestry roads through forest that while managed  seemed much prettier than the sections we had walked yesterday afternoon. Maybe we just felt more energized too but it was an enjoyable walk.


We even had some big views though they won’t really stand out  as stunners for us. Glenmalure waterfall could be heard but it didn’t look like much as it tumbled down. In fact, we could see the Zig Zags Path that an Irish landlord had constructed not far from the waterfall for use of his friends to reach a lake where he and they would go fishing and hunting far more distinctly. As a change in scenery it is nice but if you are expecting a take-your-breath-away moment you will be disappointed. 

climbing a path on Mullacor
Eventually our forestry road walk would come to a two-track (about 4.5, or was it 5, km) and that would lead in time to an actual path up a steep slope of Mullacor Mountain. Nice change of pace followed by boardwalk that Mom and I do not like because it is covered with that supposedly anti-slip bumpy rubbery stuff that leaves us feeling less safe. Dad doesn’t mind it. A few hundred meters of that crap and we were back to a forestry road  and gentle descending. A good place for a morning break even though we did not really have anything good to snack on.


The next several kilometers would continue along forestry road with some rather lengthy stretches through ugly stripped forest. A slog Of 6 or so km that while not hard was dull especially when we knew we were nearing, as the crow flies, lakes that were reportedly quite pretty. Poulanas Waterfall, passed by on a knee-twinging (yes it still bothers me on descents) paved trail was nice enough. The sounds of voices drew us steadily down towards the Upper Lake. Numerous paved and gravel paths twisted about and around this good-sized lake with small beaches and many fields for playing in. Lots of people were doing just that. We found a shady spot on the rough beach and settled down for a lazy lunch. A good spot. If the snackbar, we saw at least one fellow with coffee and learned ice cream was available, had been closer we would surely have succumbed to the temptation of food that would have been tastier than our mediocre sandwiches.

View of Upper Lake

poulanas waterfall
lunch at Upper Lake

Monastic tower and home

A paved path joins the Upper and Lower Lakes. The Lower Lake is smaller and doesn’t have beaches. I suppose that is why people were not skipping stones and playing like they were at Upper.  An old monastic city, a home for monks at least, stands near the lake but we didn’t go down for a close look. The tall pencil-shaped tower looks like something from Repunzel’s story. At least it would have had a lake view.  We left the two lakes behind and quickly came upon a roadside hotel. They had an open bar so a quick drinks break (fanta and a local red ale) was called for. We weren’t in a hurry after all and we had a climb to still do.


That ascent wasn’t nearly as bad as we though it would be and the subsequent 2km of hiking was among the nicest of the day as it wove through forest along an old two-track that was closer in many place to simple path than road. Of course, that would end dumping us out on a forestry road by a spot that’d make for a good campsite if it had water. Down we went to a different forest which was also rather nice and after a half km or so dumped us out on a minor paved road that would take us off the Wiclow Way for a km or so into the village where the Riverside B&B is located (1.5km off the way). 


The notes suggest this is the prettiest section of the hike and it certainly was nicer than day 2. I hope it doesn’t mark the pinnacle of prettiness or that what remains is comparable because we still have two days and about 50km to go.    By the way, the B&B is nice enough and though we were not thrilled with the 500-odd (felt like more) meter walk back into the village for dinner our meal at Lynham’s (sp)  was pretty good. Early to bed again and I am finishing this not long after sunrise and the never shutting up roosters have made respective visual and audible appearances. 


Stats for day 3: 19km with about 550m ascent and descent. Most of the ascent happens on gradually climbing forestry roads in the first 5km with a steep bit on pathway between 5 and 6km. Descents are gentle and even the steep descent past Poulanas Waterfall wouldn’t bother anyone whose knees are healthy. The remaining ascent and descent (just past the roadside hotel) aren’t that rough. Weather: clear blue skies all day with virtually no clouds and a high around 83F. We took 1 hour 18 minutes in breaks and were moving for about 5 hours and 56 minutes.


Photos

  1. Overview map. Starting at Glenmalure Lodge and ending at Riverside B&B.
  2. After 5km of gradual ascent on forestry roads we are climbing up the side of Mullacor mountain. It is a path of big rock slabs but the footing is good. Tiring though.
  3. Hurray. Upper Lake is in view. It it still a good 20 minutes walk, seemed longer, away.
  4. Poulanas Waterfall.
  5. Our view from our lunch spot at Upper Lake. Odd I thought we spent longer here at lunch but it wasn’t even half an hour.
  6. The tower and home, part of what our notes call a monastic city, sit not far from Lower Lake.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Wicklow Way Day 2- Shielstown Forest to Glenmalure Lodge

overview map stRting at Shielstown, headong north, to Glenmalore

Our streak of cloudness warm mornings continues. The Irish probably consider this run of weather a heat wave and when you are walking along a shade-free road it is easy to agree with them. Today though we would have a fair bit of shade to help keep us feel a bit more comfortable as we walked from Shielstown Forest, where we left off the day before, to the lodge in Glenmalure some 18km away.


We started out by strolling along a forestry road that wound its way back and forth and steadily up through the managed forest of Shielstown Forest.  Our understanding is most of the trees are Sitka spruce but no doubt other species are mixed in too. While you are walking a dirt road with forest to either side it is not a bad walk when you are walking in areas  that do not show obvious signs of cutting. Of course, that never can last in a forest that is being actively logged and we saw evidence of clear cutting.  We ascended gradually over a ocuple kilometers before gently descending a smaller forestry road with a stream running alongside. Easy walking as we crossed the stream and joined a minor road for a bit and continued to slowly descend working our way towards another river bridge crossing. This is easy walking but it is walking along country roads and so a bit dull. 

Mom an Dad

We were at the 6km mark before we really hit a stretch of walk you could consider being on a path. A steeply ascending path that followed a powerline right-of-way up a hillside for 400-500 meters ascending easily 60 meters over that stretch. By now the shade had lessened and the climb brought out the sweat. It was warming up and I’ve no doubt that the temperature under the sun was pushing 80F by late morning.


More road walking through more managed forest. We passed a runner with a support van doing something for charity. Poof: he was gone.  We kept ascending for the next 1.5-2km and around 11:20 we reached a lean-to shelter that sits in an open area a few hundred linear meters below the sumit of Carrickashane MountIn (sp) and would make a fine place for an emergency or, given it has a fire ring and maybe water, a decent campsite shelter. A good  place to sit at the picnic table and have lunch. It is too bad the food provided for lunch was rather pathetic. No one ate even close to everything we had. 

mountain leanto




Up and over the mountain on a path that would lead us down a lovely spruce-needle covered trail for a time before joining yet another gravel and dirt road under blazing sunny skies.    We continued down , joining a tarmac road for a short ways, before veering off on to a field path that would wind into a new managed forest and join another forestry road that would climb into the Slieve Mountain forest.  Pleassant enough if a bit uninteresting. Still we found a spot for a snack just before leaving the shade to begin the final ascent of Slieve before dropping down into the valley of Glenmalure.


That is a descent that is emminantly forgettable. The first kilometer or so follows the forestry road through wretched looking clear-cut. Ugly. The forest re-asserts itself a bit but it is still not pretty. Here we made a mistake. We missed a turning and kept descending the forestry road to the Military Road. That road is a paved road that keeps descending into Glenmalure for kilometer after kilometer: 5km in all. Somehow we missed the official turn. Looking at the map though we aren’t all that certain our goof cost us any distance and the gradient may have been gentler though the footing grew tiresome.  Sometimes the signage marking turns leaves something to be desired.


A bit before 15:00 we arrived at Glenmalure Lodge. I think we thought we would have a town to check out too but that doesn’t seem to be true. The lodge is a big place and clearly a gathering spot. We settled in and now after a few hours and an early dinner it is time to just take our ease and get ready for toorrow. 


Stats: 17.75km distance with 490m ascent and 645m descent much of which climbs up and over Carrick-a-Shane and Slieve Mountain before descending into Glenmalure. Vast majority of the walk is forestry roads with a bit on paths. Had we not made our error the 5km final tarmac stretch would likley have followed more forestry road. Weather: clear skies all day with a high pushing 84F.


Photos

  1. Oveiew Map. Starting at Shielstown Forest ; ending Glenmalure Lodge.
  2. Mom and Dad at the highpoint in Shielstown Forest.
  3. A lean-to along the Wicklow way: lunch spot.
  4. What a few hundred years of human activity, with a focus of active forestry in the recent decades, can look like.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Wicklow Way day 1 - Tinahey to Shielstown Forest (staying Jyle’s Farm)


overview map. start in Tinahely heading north to Shielstown Forest



Let’s get this out of the way right off: we are not doing the entire Wicklow Way. The entire trail runs about 82 miles and we are doing about 60 of them leaving off the southernmost bit. Our section hike will require five days which will be enough for us to enjoy the journey.   We arrived in Tinahely mid-afternoon and quickly came to the conclusion that there is little to do in town. We made a quick exploration and settled back into our rooms at the B&B to relax before dinner at Connor’s pub. An early evening for everyone.


The morning dawned clear and with the promise of great, for Ireland, heat. We got ourselves on the trail at about 09:30 and were soon leaving the roads of the village of Tinahely behind. Sadly we were destined to return to the B&B because I was pretty sure I had failed to pack some stuff. It turned out I had packed the item but in the wrong place. An extra 1.5km would be added to our hiking day because of this little mistake. An extra bit of time too so our day began again a  bit after 10:00. Oh well. We had plenty of time.


tinahely view

pSgures

According to the somewhat meager directions our walk would be about 14km and follow country lanes, minor tarmac roads , and paths through farm fields. We quickly learned that the directions Sherpa provide aren’t quite as detailed as Inntravel gave us. That might just be for this trip but it is still a shame that they don’t provide at least more distance information. For example, tell us that the hike from the start of the Wicklow Way to the stream crossing is such and so kilometers long. I suppose you might be able to work some of that out with a good map but having the extra bit of information would be a nice touch. Besides, they do provide it sometimes.


The first 2.5km are actually not on the Wicklow Way.  We followed a narrow, just wide for the large tractor ,to pass us not once but twice putting our toes at serious risk of being crushed. A narrow dirt lane indeed. We found the Wicklow Way and soon were following a path through pastures that were home to numerous sheep gradually ascending and then leveling off for a time before dropping down again. Easy walking with just two or three stiles to climb over. Along the way we had panaramic views of Tinahely and other places. We also found ourselves walking past a couple sheep that were not all that long dead in a case or two. No idea how they died.

horses

After passing a small herd of horses that seemed to be waiting for something we returned to country lanes for a while. Fortunately these were sheltered by trees because by this time, late morning, the temeprature had crept well into the 70s and showed no signs of easing off: not a cloud in the sky.


We worked our way up and down through gentle hills past a memorial or two, an old school house, and no doubt much else. Through a set of fields infested with buzzing annoying flies that may have been biting but were certainly annoying as they buzzed us while we climbed the field path  up towards more country roads that would lead us  past the hamlet of Moyne. Our shade evaporated and we were faced with a road walk under the blazing, mid-80s now, sun.  


We encountered a couple coming the other way and learned they were also staying at Kyle’s Farm. They would get there via a trail turning we had passed a couple kilometers back. Tomorrow we will be staying where they had come from today but our day tomorrow will be a good 5km shorter as we are starting it that much closer to our eventual endpoint. 


We pushed on along the road: less than 4km to go in an hour before our expected pickup at the entrance to  Shielstown forest. It turned out to be closer to 3.5km and we got there with time to spare and settled down on rocks in wonderful shade to await our ride. Phew.


This is a lovely little farm with nice rooms, very accomodating hosts, 3 dogs, and not much to do once you arrive.  But that is alright. I am tired and think I will fall asleep easily even though my room is a bit warm. I do wish I could sit outside here in a shadier spot and enjo the slowly setting sun but that is not going to be. I really do not want to go to sleep before sunset as I definitely do not want to wake up well before, like hours before, breakfast.

view from Kyle’s Farm


Stats: Walk 13.5km with an extra 1.5km tacked on due to my mistake. Ascent (offical walk only): 372m, descent 223m.The lion’s share of ascent happened in the first 7km with much of the descent then too. A couple steeper bit like the farm path field just before Moyne too. Weather: clear and sunny all day with a high pusihing 85F in the sun.


Photos

  1. Overview map. Start at Madeline’s B&B  in  Tinahely.
  2. A view back towards Tinahely.
  3. Typical view from the hillside pastures in this area.
  4. Horses. Need I say more.
  5. A view from the deck looking northernly here at Kye’s Farm. Sunset is still 2.5 hours away.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

County Kerry Day 6 - Derrycunihy to Muckross House


Overview map. start at Derrycunihy Church

The last full day with HF continued the lovely trend of morning sunshine and clear skies. If the forecasts can be trusted the weather will remain like this for the next several days. Our last walk would be the easier walk. The harder walk does the same route as the easier one but adds a climb up and down a mountain adding 2 miles and an additional three hundred meters of ascent and decent.  The easier walk would be about 11.2km  with about 300 meters of ascent and descent generally spread out through the walk.


We got under way at 09:40 leaving the apparently abandoned Derrycunihy Church to walk along a country lane of sorts for a ways before turning off on to a path that would gradually climb up through some woods and open lands (supposedly being re-forested) before reaching a local high meadow between surrounding hills. It is good path and where the ground gets particularly soggy the trail builders have installed very extensive wood-metal walkways that can extend considerable distances. Of course, all good things come to an end.

Mom not far from the long boardwalk

Waterfall. 4km in but 1.5km were a real pain

While the views were expansive and the weather was fine the footing got steadily worse and worse. The trail began to gradually descend and it did so following a path strewn with countless rocks that slow everyone , but especially me, down. It get tiresome having to pay such careful attention to where you place your feet.  The worst of this rocky stretch is certainly over a kilometer long and could have been as much as 1.5km. It’s a drag.  


Eventually the worst is over and though the path continues to gently drop the footing improves quite a bit as you close in on the rushing sounds of a cascade about 4km from the start of the hike. This modest waterfall is a great place to take a break. If you are willing to chance the nippy water you could take a little soak here but be warned this is clearly a popular area. We spent a solid half hour relaxing here and I think everyone enjoyed the break.


The path continues working its way  east towards a dirt road. Once on that road we undulated through several hills  heading northeasterly eventually leaving the open countryside for woods and a somewhat steeper descent on the road to Torc Waterfall. It is here on this road, not long before you enter the woods, that the people doing the tougher walk would head up and then back down a mountain. 

Our group in the hills

Torc waterfall
We saw scores of people during the road walk. If they were coming from the parking lot just beyond the waterfall we were heading for they were hiking over 4km to  get to the Cascades we had just visited. Not a hard walk as the footing is superb but you would think they would carry a little more water and food than we typically saw. 


The descent down to the waterfall is along seemingly endless rough steps just far enough apart that you can’t easily go down them unless you have longer legs. But once you get to the waterfall the view is pretty good. It is also pretty crowded as the car park is probably not even a five minute walk from the viewpoint.  We had lunch down by that parking lot and it really isn’t a place I suggest you eat at. If the breeze had been blowing the bugs would not have pestered us , they didn’t at the waterfall or a few hundred paces further on, but at that spot they were annoying. 


The last 1.8km of the walk follow a walking path that runs alongside a cycle and horse-and-buggy path. You have views of Muckross Lake and start to get a sense of the quality of the estate that Muckross once owned and eventually deeded to the state to create this national park. An easy stroll at this point and we saw dozens of people of all ages enjoying the afternoon like we were doing.


Muckross House looks impressive and I am sure it is. Manicured grounds and numerous gardens surround it. The visitor center is a bustling hive of activity. We had two hours to just relax and wait for the bus ride back to Kenmare. It was an easy day with one tough bit in the middle and a walk full of good things to see and ice cream at the end.


Stats: Sunny with a high around 70F. Distance 11.3km. AScent 260m; descent 320m. Most of the ascent happens early on with undulations after the cascades. The biggest descent is in the forest.


Photos

  1. Overview map. Starting at Derrycunihy Church. Easy hiking for tge first 2km on lanes and gently rising paths that included boardwalks. A good 1.2-1.5km of gentle descent that would be trivial except for the rocks. Then seceral kilomets of path and countryvroad that indulate through hills before rapidly descending through woods to Torc Falls. The gonal 1.8lm to Muckross House follow a walking trail tyat is flat. 
  2. Mom nit lobg before the rock streen descent.
  3. The cascades are a great place for a break.
  4. On the undulatibg country road. M
  5. Torc waterfall.

Monday, June 25, 2018

County kerry Day 5 - Glengarriff Nature Preserve and Garinish Island

overview map

Our second day in a row where we woke up to clear blue skies and a brilliant sun shining down upon us. That made it an easy five minute stroll down to the grocery store cum gas station to get our sandwhiches made for lunch. We knew that the walk, the easier one today, would end with the option to eat at a pub or cafe but we got picnic lunches instead.  The easier walk would explore a nature preserve and visit an island in Bantree Bay while the harder walk was going to climb up a mountain and spend time on higher ridges and boggy land before descending back down towards the sea. It didn’t seem worth the work to do what was described as a challenging walk  with little seeming reward compared against the variety the easier walk offered. 


The easier walkers, most of the group, started out at a road junction  at the edge of the Glengarriff Nature Preserve. TheWaterfall Walk according to a sign is steep and rugged. For a walk in a nature preserve that has numerous paths that are accessible for people with strollers or tougher wheelchairs this is certainly a true and proper statement. The walk has some modestly steep hills and plenty of steps to climb up and down. For seasoned hill walkers it is not going to pose any real difficulty. We climbed perhaps  30 meters over several hundred meters to the highpoint. Nice views of the forest of pines, hollies, and much more. It is quite the change from the more open boggy lands we have been exploring.We would eventually work our way around to the River Walk and follow the  Canroska River along gravel and paved paths. Again a very nice change of pace. The morning cotinued  to warm up too with a sunny temperature pushing 70F and little to no wind. Easy walking.

Parents at rest

river view

I suppose the real highlight of the walk had to be our visit to Lady Bantry’s Lookout. This is reached by following a step-laden path a couple hundred meters and about 60 meters ascent to a fine viewing point that looks out across Bantry Bay. I wish we had spent more time just relaxing here than we did earlier in the morning where we had a snack break at a couple of benches that really had little of visual delight around them.  The path to the lookout will take most people about 5 minutes to walk; took me 10 minutes to descend the annoying steps

Lady Bantry’s Lookout view

Me snd Mom at Lady Bantry’s Lookout


From the base of the lookout path it’s an easy road walk of about 2km into the heart of the village of Garriff. While the village clearly has an aboundance of places to have a likely tasty hearty bite to eat along with your drink of choice we hiked down to where we thought the ferry to Garinish Island would be docked and found a place to gaze out on the cove for lunch and a spot to stretch out and relax in the sun. That was a fine way to spend the next hour and a half or so before learning that we were actually in the wrong spot for the boat after all. Our boat, the Harbor Queen, was waiting for us in a major cove about a kilometer away. We would take the Blue Pool II , the boat we had seen make several trips already, back from Garinish.  The Queen provided us with an enjoyable ride across the gentle waters of the bay and we were fortunate to be able to get very close to rocky islets that were home to several relaxing harbor seals. These seals clearly don’t mind boats and people because we came very close to their rocky rests and they hardly stirred.  We were hoping to spot some sea-based birds like Steller’s Sea-Eagle. While a nest was spotted no birds were seen.

clouds

harbor seals

Garinish Island was once just a barren rocky island. I don’t recall who bought it and decided to turn it into a garden island but the project began in 1911 and was finished around 1914. Workers shipped in goodness knows how much soil and all types of plants to create this place. Today the island features many different types of gardens with plants whose home ranges span the globe from local flora to plants to grow in Australia and New Zealand.  Gravel paths criss cross a large, though by no means all, piece of the island for visitors to walk and enjoy the assorted plants. If you are hoping to learn what various things are bring your own identification book because signs that provide that type of information are thin on the ground. Fortunately, we had Mom who recognized many plants. And, of course, I can enjoy flowering colorful plants whether I know the names or not.


Photos

  1. Overview map. StRt st the orange blob. Hiking mostly in the Glengarriff Nature Preserve. Ended in the village of Garriff. 
  2. Mom and Dad at a break.
  3. The tiver walk is one gravel paths and is pleassant enough. We would also do the meadow walj which would eventually take us to Lady Bantry’s Lookout. 
  4. A view from Lady Bantry’s Lookout across Bantry Bay. 
  5. Mexand Mom at tge lookout. Photo by Dad. 
  6. Funky clouds anove the calm waters of Bantry Bay. 
  7. Harbor seals.