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Turf, wind and mountains

If since few years, I enjoyed to take with me relatives, this time I will travel alone in Ireland. As usual, it will be about turf and mountains, the journey driven by weather forecast. C'est parti !

The logistic

Nothing new on this matter, rented car with Bed & Breakfast are still the best solution to visit Ireland. Count 400€ for a category B, during 2 weeks plus with minimalist insurance and 40€/night for a single room en-suite. This is my comfortable solution and for a cheaper invest, there are the hostels at 30€/night and a good coaches network all over the country. This is less flexible but freedon costs money. For the flight, irish companies charge luggages, onboard snacks and drinks. There is no miracle with low cost flights... Last point, take a type G socket adapter for your electric devices.

For a small budget, you can choose to take buses between towns, and a taxi can bring you to the start/end of your walk. Youth hostels are cheap but less common than B&B. They are also sometimes not in a town.

The route

I started to think to plan my journey while I was waiting for my flight. A check on weather forecast during next 4 days convinced me to start with the north of Ireland. that turns out well because I did not go there since 2009. Then I will go to the south west region, following the coast, depending on weather. Here is my plan which in details is :
- Letterkenny (4 nights)
- comté de Sligo (1 to 2 nights)
- Castlebar (3 or 4 nights)
- Burren (1 or 2 nights)
- Comté de Dingle (2 nights)
- Killarney (2 or 4 nights)
- Comté de Wicklow (1 nights)
- Dublin (1 partial night)
That is more than 14 nights, would you tell me, but flexibility make the travel very pleasant. For actvities, I will alternate between hikes and road trips on bucolic roads.

Day by day

The result is a pleasant trip in a well known country with the discovery of new summits and wonderful landscapes as well.

Letterkenny heat
The day before, I told my co-workers : "It is time for me to go to Ireland, to find a little freshness in front of this sudden heat in the south of France". Landing in Dublin at 11:15, this is the bazaar at the car rental company and I leave the airport two hours later with a new car (15km only). My holidays start with a direct route to Letterkenny. 27°C under a blue sky, bad luck for the freshness...


After an early wake up, the sun rises before 05:00, I choose a short walk : Aghla beg, a ten kilometers km route near Errigal Mount (751m), an equivalent of Croagh Patrick (situated in county Mayo) in terms of popularity and eroded path. An error at the start drives me on the wrong way toward Na Leargacha (471m). Nothing bad, the route is also nice and with such a blazing sun, I will not be zealous.
180 degrees from Aghla Beg

Errigal and Aghla More on left, Na Leargacha and Muckish Mountain on right.

After this short walk, I decide to have a look on Dunlewey, the start of a harder route to Slieve Snaght by Poisoned Glen. On the trail, I meet a cosmopolitan group of four. I go with them in the valley, surprisingly dry for once.
Poisoned Glen Bridge at Poisoned Glen Poisoned Glen

Letterkenny heatMe
Such a high temperature is unusual in Letterkenny.This is also the last warm day of my journey :-)


No more heat, the day is announced wet with only 14°C. I choose to follow the 100 miles road which drives you to discover Inishowen peninsula, Mizen Head, the northest point of Ireland (the main isle). Everything have changed here. The word "EIRE" seems to be rewritten with rocks more white than in 2009 and a fence surrounds it henceforth. I follow my road in the mist, not the best condition to view the coastal scene.
Stroove Sand Castle Snail in a hurry Greencastle


In 20 years, I have never been in Glenveagh National Park. This assert is wrong indeed, I went there many times as I walked to Slieve Snaght but not by the official entrance... The goal of the day is an innocent summit on the map but the place offers nice landscapes. After 1h50 and 11km crossing the park from north east to south west through castle's garden (if you do not known what midges are, they will love you at least :-), I leave the path. I do not know yet but the next 14km are a challenge. The ground is damp, grassy, with eroded turf obstacles and hidden holes. Five hours and sixty deers later, I get out of this Vietnam for hiking shoes. The gentle summit was a physical challenge.
The summit is named Dooish (651.5m), just Dooish !
11km from the car park Fish fountain Drosera rotundifolia
From Dooish summit


After the effort of the day before, I follow the Wild Atlantic Way. I find again Slieve League Cliff 8 years later, still high and windy. I finish the day in Manorhamilton, a small town where I will not go back before a long time.
Slieve League cliff


Glenade Lough Glencar Waterfall
The day begins in a wet weather that does not do justice to the Glencar valley, also named "the Swiss Valley" and situated near Sligo. A tiny waterfall is waiting for you after few hundreds meters of clean path. The time of mud trail is far away ! I drive toward Ox Mountains, then through the Windy Gap, I go to Ballina. At Crossmolina I turn to the Nephin Drive, mountain on which I will hike one day, and I stop for three nights in Castlebar. After a short pause in my favorite B&B, I go to climb Croagh Patrick (764m) one more time. There is not much people today and as usual, I am amazed to see some walkers with unsuited clothes and no water. This year I do a good race against myself with 120 minutes for the round trip, including the pause on the summit.

Clewbay from Croagh Patrick


With an unsure weather, I decide not to embark on a new route, particularly in Connemara where the conditions can change badly in a fast manner. That is why I choose a classical hike on Mweelrea (817m). The first part of the climb is done under the sun in short and tee shirt whereas a strong and cold (10°C ) wind blows on the final section.
From Mweelrea summit

Toward Renvile Point Toward Delphi The descent


A weather disturbance clings to the area, then I go to Achill Island. A strong wind waves the Atlantic Ocean, turning it in a nice spectacle. On the way back, I stop for a ride in Raheen Wood. Near a Cenotaph, I meet a couple of geocaching enthusiasts looking for the log box without success. He gives me their clue and 5 seconds later I give them the log box :-)
Waves Waves


The end of the walk
Leaving Castlebar, I decide to go through Connemara area. The good view on Sheeffry Hills gives me the chance for a nice walk. The route is easy but a strong and fresh wind is blowing on the ridges, bringing two horizontal showers. Sheeffry Hills are situated south from Croagh Patrick and the panorama on the summits all around is a nice gift. After the effort of the day, I search a B&B and the task is difficult because of a bank holiday. I find a bed in Lisdoonvarna, the village where there is a famous festival dedicated to singles.

From Tawnyard summit


I start the day with a small drive in the Burren, then I go to Killarney. If finding a room yesterday was not so easy, the task is even more difficult today because of the annual Bikerfest, Harley Davidson fans rendez-vous. The town is overcrowded. I prefer to searche a B&B in the countryside and I finally stop at Beaufort. The owners of the B&B are... dutch ! Late in the afternoon, I visit the earth of Iveragh peninsula through Ballaghbeam Gap near Mullaghanattin (773m). The weather offers a passing show with a nice rainbow and it seems really near. Unfortunately, I do not discover the cauldron filled with gold...
A rainbow Fish'n chips

Yesterday, I found the car park at the start a walk considered by some people as one of the most symbolic hike : Coomloughra Horseshoe. This route drives you upon the three thousands, i.e. the three irish summits above 1000m. Today, I found another car park I have never seen before. I decide to go to the conquest of Carrauntoohil (1038.6m) but, this time, I will take an alternative from the "touristic" path. I climb the Zig Zags and I complete a loop by following the ridge to Beenkeragh (1008.2m), and a descent to Knockbrinnea summits (854m et 847m).

MacGillycuddy's Reeks

Good for strength?
Time flies and I have to think about my retunr to Dublin. I am again on the roads to visit Caher, Clonmel, Cashel Kilkenny or Waterford. The rain decides for me another plan and i go to Hook Head where an iconic lighthouse stands. After a pause, I continue my route to Wicklow moutains. Finding a B&B is a challenge this evening.


Last walk of the journey, I make a loop around Glendalough lakes, on the top of the cliff. Because of the rainy day before, I will not do the return by Camaderry (698.6m). I just follow the well marked paths but I digress with a climb to the old Silver Mine entrance. Deers are hidden this year but the wild goats are on the steep side of the mountain.
Mushrooms family Glendalough Valley Like a banked bend


Last day before I go back to France, this is the right time for a short walk in Dublin. The crowded streets are a big change after isolated mountains and villages where I spent most of the days. Croke Park, Liffey docks, Grafton Street, Stephen Green, Merrion Square. The National History Museum goes from bad to worse. The budget for its restoration is obviously waiting. That is a pity because this museum is a remakable place (particularly its first step where you feel you could meet Indiana Jones). I also visit the National Gallery where I can appreciate few masterpieces from the art of painting. Then I go to Trinity College where I discover the Ernest Walton Memorial, an atom scientist, O'Connell Street and the General Post Office (the rebel headquarters during Easter Rising in 1916). I take a coffee with a Scone while a short shower and I write a postcard. The evening is coming fast and I take my diner in a traditional fish'n chips, an annex of one of the oldest in Dublin. I finish the day with a walk to my B&B.
Zebra Elk Apples and Atoms by Eilís O'Connell


Cafe latte
The return flight is usually 02h30 long. I spent 20h to go back home.
With a planned take off at 05:50, you have to wake up early. But it is necessary to have a plane... That is all the problem this thursday. A first technical incident delayed boarding to 06:20, Then without any explanation, the take off is delayed to 07:30. Flight cancelation is in the air but passengers around me are all surprised when the verdict is announced. 07h30, flight canceled and the company offers to us original alternatives. I choose to flight to Lyon with a take off at 13:20. But, again, we are unlucky with a 25 minuts delay. The black day continues... 13h45, boarding followed by a landing a little before 18h00 at Lyon. From there, 3 hours in a coach with a long stop at Montelimar for the driver (it is the law). Finally we reach Marseille Airport at 22h50. The driver's phone rings : some passengers are still at Montelimar. With life, there is always a worst situation than yours...

Final words

Despite an epic return, Ireland enchanted me again. The new summits I reached offered to me nice landscapes with the feeling to be in the middle of nowhere. With an uncertain weather, I avoided most of rain showers and I walked nearly 94km and 5731m of ascent (*) in moutains, excluding urban walks.
See you next year for another journey among irish summits.

(*) Far from Kilian Jornet performance who climbed twice in a week Mount Everest in May 2017.

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