Quote of the Moment
"All really great things happen in slow and inconspicuous ways." Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, 27 March 2014

E8 Day Two: Ardgroom to Beara Camping

Repetition of previous map. You can see Ardgroom, Beara Camping is just north of the 3 lakes. Also the route is slightly different as I think this is the cycle route. The hiking route takes you over all the hills!
So day 2. Some people have commented that they are surprised I continued after that day. Well I put it down to a) the continued excitement of the trip, and b) the wonderful Hilda at the Panorama B&B; she really did do a great job of setting me up for another day's hike. I can't thank her enough!

With all my things packed and ready to go, Hilda offered that she would take me down to the start of the trail as the B&B was off the Beara Way by quite a distance. This I accepted with all thanks. I was straight on to the bog refreshed and fit.

The Bog.

Today's hike promised more variety of terrain, which I was looking forward to, but started with the same. Also the day was cooler, much cooler, but broadly dryer. It was also clearer, and as I climbed up the mountain I managed to see some really great sea/harbour views for the first time since I put my first foot forward at Dursey Head. The coast here is - unsurprisingly - stunning, but also working. And it is this low impact fishing industry (Muscles and Crab) which adds to the beauty here instead of detracts.

You can see the Iveragh Peninsula on the other side of the bay.

I continued over the gap between Drung Hill and Keecragh Mountian, which began to harden and become more rocky. Steep in places, it really got my legs going again. The path slowly declined into a depressions with running streams criss-crossing the turf and at one point almost ending the hike there when one stream crossed the path, the girth, depth and flow of the water created a real challenge. I spent some time here, alone, working out if crossing the water was even possible! To the point that, in more frustration than sense, I practised throwing my pack to see if that was an option. I felt it was more than likely that, here, well away from anyone else who could help, I (and more importantly my pack!) would be soaking wet and the hike would have to be called off!

The offending 'stream'.
After discounting a bunch of daft ideas and crossing points I decided to risk it on one where the key disadvantage was the trust I would need to place on submerged stones with my weight and the hope that the stream wasn't as forceful as I expected. I crossed. Breathed a sigh of relief. And continued.

To me, all human endeavour, even if it's reasons can only be speculated upon through the distance of time, is interesting. What is it that truly motivates people to create something, despite the effort and costs involved? Stone circles are one such feature that falls into this category. It is tricky to see and feel the weight of meaning behind their construction and existence. What would someone who had had a hand in lugging the huge stones to remote locations truly have felt when they saw the completion of their work? I just don't know. Even so, in Ireland, a sense of stately nature is retained and they form the perfect spot for pause and reflection when on a long hike, whilst the weather holds out that is!

The Stone Circle at Cashel Keelty.
Another gap, this time between Knockatee and Drombohilly was approached to via Lauragh Village and a bunch of small country roads/paths. I didn't realise quite how much I would relish the hard, artificial surface that brings modernity to the isolated and unspoilt countryside, but I am afraid I did. After nearly two days of walking on, through, in, within bogs I was ready for somewhere to walk that didn't need constant attention. The traffic was light, and I welcomed the small moment of interaction between me and passing drivers. One highlight of my little foray into civilisation was an old petrol pump advertising Guinness!

The final section up and over the gap was difficult. I focused on regular pauses at each of the way markers as the path became increasingly steep. It nearly did me in. I vowed that I would do more to support myself, eat more snacks, drink more water and take more breaks. Once through the gap the decent was tricky for the first half until the path followed a concrete farmers track which joined the Cloone Loughs within a beautiful valley headed by a spectacular waterfall (which I was only able to view from a distance). 

The next day's hike was almost straight over those hills!

 To get to my next overnight stop I had to walk some way off the Beara way. But as it was on roads it was pretty good going despite the rain worsening. My body wasn't playing up too much, but it had just had enough and I was glad to see that the campsite was actually closer than I had expected. I knocked, waited, and was greeted by a lovely Dutch couple who owned the place. Beara Camping it seemed was busy during the proper tourist seasons, but, for this year, I was the first visitor! This was turning into something of a habit, this part of Ireland really does not open until at least mid March. My stay here was free, which was good, but mostly that was because there were no working toilets or showers. I did have access to a gas cooker and made myself some warm food in the communal barn.

Beara Camping

I had planned to camp, but was offered a little plastic shed thing to stay in over night which was nice. Especially because it snowed that night. Temperatures dropped to below freezing and was not entirely pleasant. (Though I was warm when in my sleeping bag)
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