Day 69: Morning and Afternoon (BBW35 Leitrim Way: Leitrim Village-Balinagleragh)

Partway through this morning, around the time my raincoat soaked through and the wind started lashing raindrops into my face, I said to myself, “Why am I still doing this again?”

Three hours later as the sun beamed down and I gazed out at fantastic lake views, I said to myself, “Oh, right.”

That’s today in a nutshell.

I have few pictures from the first part, because it was largely gross and horrid and unphotogenic.

See there was this road and it was wet

It had some scenery but mostly that scenery was rain

I’d even prepared, but it was just warm enough that wearing all my rain gear was uncomfortably warm. So I stopped and peeled off my rain pants. Right before it started raining. Because timing. 

Two miserable hours brought me to Drumshambo, where I stumbled into the first cafe I came across and enjoyed the best chai latte in all of human history (along with some legitimately delish food). Fortified if still damp, I emerged to a rainless sky which gradually cleared as I continued on.

The walk to Drumshambo had been… well, it would have been okay if not for the rain, but it was not exactly writing-home-to-mom material (hi Mom!). In Drumshambo though I joined the actual Leitrim Way (as opposed to the roads you need to walk on from Leitrim Village to get to the Leitrim Way)

See legit signs and everything

Drumshambo’s nice church and graveyard showing off the blue skies

While the weather had certainly improved (anything would have been better than the previous state of “the devil is pissing directly into your eyes”) the first stretch of the Leitrim Way wasn’t particularly inspiring, scenically. It puttered on along country roads and I found myself thinking, “Is this it? For this, I dragged myself back onto the road, after hauling my ass over hundreds of kilometers?”

A tragic sight broke the monotony – a famine graveyard, where the many locals who died during the famine times were interred en masse

Also, there were the sheep.

One sheep

Two sheep

Red sheep

Blue sheep

But eventually there were other interesting things besides sheep to see.

A whole section of road was marked as under construction for “hedge trimming”. I wondered why until I saw the hedge trimmer in question

Wait is that a lake I see

See, nearly the entire Leitrim Way parallels the eastern edge of Lough Allen. But after several miles, this was the first I had seen of it. Happily it would not be the last.

There were islands!

And idyllic views under flowers

And fields of ferns

Stormwater silhouettes

Old wheels

Sunlit curtains of rain

So then I encountered a bit of a surprise. I am familiar with the native American tradition of the sweat lodge, and I am aware that other places have such things as well. I hadn’t entirely realized this was so in Ireland until some signs drew me off the path:

So I followed to check it out

Extremely fae looking sweathouse – the setting helps, of course

Inside – no I did not actually venture in it all looked a bit damp for me after this morning

I would totally come here for a sweat though it is so pretty

Doorway ferns

I was going to stop with the photographs of this place but then the sun came out and well here we are

The next bit of trail led to a well

After some perfect pathway

My cup runneth over

Then on to delightful hedge tunnels

Some kind of record for density of stiles

Maurice and I are used to them at least

Not as nice as sun-warmed rocks though

Not long after this, I met with a pair of hikers I had encountered previously – they were looping around to return to their car in Dowra. We walked together for a bit – one of the first times I have walked with fellow hikers – and chatted about their project to walk along the River Shannon, along with other journeys we had taken. They also saved me from a nasty muddy stretch they had passed through on the way down, which I was happy to skip after my rainy morning. I parted ways with them in Ballinagleragh, under the mistaken impression my lodgings were there; it turned out they were about 45 minutes south (back the way I had come) but happily the owner John was willing to come get me. His establishment – the Gables B&B, right on the shore of Lough Allen – may have once of the nicest locations I have stayed at, up there with Kilronan Castle’s lovely grounds and woodlands and Aherlow House’s stunning mountain views.

Out my window

Sun through clouds from the docks just outside

Also there is a friendly doggie here to guide you back from the docks

Not a bad place to spend a couple of nights by any stretch.

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