So today it began.
First up, a little logistical prefacing. Hello again to any folks who are joining specifically for my journeying along the Beara Breifne Way / The Ireland Way. For all posts where I actually cover a section of the walk, I will be adding a descriptive tag to the end of the post title so it is more easily found/referenced. The format will be: (walk abbrevation)(day on that walk) (walk subsection): (origin town)-(destination town). That way if someone is attempting to check out my experience of a particular section they can easily see if they have what they want. The walk abbreviations will be BBW for the Beara Breifne Way and UW for the Ulster Way, provided I make it that far (the Beara Breifne way is my top priority at present.)
Anyway. If you want to know more about me, what I am doing this for, etc. etc., previous posts should give you at least some idea of all that. So let’s get right down to it, shall we?
The first two days are, rumor has it, some of the hardest, taking you up into the Caha Mountains of the Beara Peninsula. Caroline of The Ireland Way (www.theirelandway.ie) met us in Castletownbere with Marc (an accomplished long distance walker from Austria who took a day off his travels along the Wild Atlantic Way to join us) and Francesco, whose profession as a nurse seemed like one of those things that could be relevant as the day moved on. These three kindly saw off the journey by joining Carl and I for today, which involved about 16 miles plus assorted elevation gain. That, I reflected, made it equivalent to the longest hike I’ve ever done in everything except elevation gain and loss (and it still had a good amount of that). Oh, and that previous longest hike? I didn’t have a full pack for that, and I was also borderline delirious by the end. So, yeah. I hoped that my several weeks of doing lots of walking would help this end a little less poorly.
The first bits were pretty reasonable, as we walked out on some country roads and then dove into the rolling green fields in the foothills.
Off they go brave fooldhardy adventurers
That pink looks lovely with your wool coat ma’am or sir
First of many many streams
An ancient wedge tomb, just hanging out unmarked on our route. Right after passing this we encountered a woman walking her dog through the mountains, who asked to be sure we had seen it – luckily Caroline knew what it was so was able to clue us in when we first encountered it
Castletownbere receding in the distance
Maurice enjoying the sun during our first breather
I found myself breathing hard in places but was overall feeling optimistic. Of course, it was time for a rather pointed reminder.
“FYI, things die in these hills”
Thusly sobered, we continued onward, rising annd falling with the terrain as it brought us steadily higher.
Another creek with a view that gives a sense of our increasing height
Resting a little alongside one of the stretches of country road
Carl, gamely continuing toward the increasingly rocky slopes
The mountains get bigger and the water gets wider (ok that is not a real correlation at all just happened to be true this time)
“Which way do we go?” “….Up.”
Earth, sky, and very tiny people
Hello, local wildlife!
Sooo, see that little silver schmear way off in the distance? That is a lake, and that is a little past the halfway point… and we’re just catching sight of it several hours in.
Oh and the astonishingly green and beautiful countryside was there too
In case we needed to be reminded how good at climbing we’ll never be: sheep walking along a nearly vertical rock face with impunity
More rivers to cross
Green, green, everywhere
We began sloping back down again as we approached the next phase of our journey… (continued in the next post)