This morning, Carl headed back to Cork, where his flight home would depart on the morrow.
Caroline had kindly connected me to another walking companion for the next couple days. Though we had a bit of trouble meeting up due to bus stop confusion, we eventually managed it. At one point in our back and forth on the phone trying to find one another, she said, “Oh, I hope you don’t mind you’re getting a granny. I probably should have told you. I hope you weren’t expecting someone young.” I laughed it off and said I didn’t mind at all, that I’m not a particularly fast walker and that in honesty I’d probably have to work to keep up with her.
Ohhhh, sometimes I hate being right.
Once we had connected, we set off, with a long day ahead of us.
Kathleen had warned me that she wasn’t one for reading maps or doing directions, so I was carefully tracking us as we went. Of course, less than an hour or so into the walk, I was standing at an intersection, feeling a bit bewildered. We shouuld have left the road to follow the waymarks a bit back, but I hadn’t seen any.
“We must have missed it,” I said, shaking my head and feeling rather embarrassed.
We tracked our way back up to where the hiker’s path should have gone off – but we saw nothing.
A car came along the road and slowed, possibly noticing our bewildered expressions, and while he knew nothing about the trail, he directed us to the yellow house nearby where a friendly woman told us that there had, indeed, been a trail, right at this spot, but the landowners (possibly sick of the hikers tromping through) had taken the signs down earlier that year.
Protip: If you are doing this section of the walk, on the Irish Trails map you’ll want to watch out for the second section of off-road track (red dashed line). It’s on the same square of the map with Cappagh. You can’t get to that section for now (I mean, as of this writing), so instead you walk on to the next intersection and turn right, crossing a bridge.
You’re now following the signs for the cycle route, which will take you down that road aways. You’ll then take the second right you come to, still following cycling signs, and go on a good ways until you are coming in to a forest where you will be able to rejoin the walking trail again.
Thus reassured that I was reading the map just fine, we forged onward.
We spent some hours crossing through it. The turbines perched around us like birds, spinning serenely overhead. They were almost shockingly quiet; mostly all one could hear of them was the noise of the wind itself moving through, a low rush like a plane in the distance. Only standing directly beneath could you hear the quiet grinding of the machinery, the soft whush of the blades circling overhead. I found it surprisingly peaceful and lovely.
After some time we left them behind.
After the boardwalk you come to a fence. Protip – this is NOT like the fence on Day 2, and it will NOT be super obvious when you need to leave it. Watch carefully to your right, as after a while a waymarker way over across some grass and near some trees will lead you off into the woods. If I recall right this occurs near some powerlines, taking you beneath them. In any case, this particular turnoff had far less fanfare than I think the change in direction should have warranted.
Eventually we landed at one of the most ambiguous intersections yet, which REALLY SHOULD BE WAYMARKED TRAIL FOLKS.
This was easily cleared up with the map, thankfully, and we took the proper left. This seems to be a patch where the Sli Gaeltacht Mhuscrai is winding down and the way forward is being taken on by sections of other trails like the Duhallow Way (which is a confusing thing I will talk more about tomorrow). Its a bit of a seam in the trail system; if you ever do this watch you don’t slip through the cracks.
We made it to Millstreet and met our hostess – the hotel and B&B I had found online were full up, but the B&B owner had referred me to her sister, who ran a little cash-only boarding house there in town. We turned in early, knowing we had a good ways to go the next day…