Hi to you all ! How has your week been ?
Just returned from a marvelous few days in West Cork and Waterford with a few pieces of crystal(yes-that is the place they make the Waterford crystal – used in the past-in a sign of great taste- by our embassies. Sadly, we use something else now-not half as good)-even though I am not a ‘crystal’ type of person, strawberries from Wexford(they are supposed to be best in that area and are in season) and some junk(to add to the rest of our junk) from a Charity warehouse also in Waterford.
I am the only person in our family who loves to walk and generally stay outdoors. My husband, son and daughter believe a funny old Bengali saying that translates roughly as ‘bamboo dies when it splits and humans die when they walk’. So, put simply, they walk only when strictly necessary. I, on the other hand, always look for a chance to walk–especially in good weather and gorgeous countryside.
On one occasion, when my friend Manel, an absolute fiend of a walker, suggested that I accompany her on a ‘walk’ I agreed. Little did I realize that it would involve climbing a 6oo meter high hill, negotiating blanket bogs,a climb down rocks, wading through a stream and a trek through an abandoned mine–all of it a mere 11 km ! Had she, at the start of the walk, even shown me how high we would climb, I would probably have refused. I mean, I like to walk, but this would have meant not walking but slogging ! But after I had done the trek and saw the distance, height and landscape I had covered-I was hooked ! Hooked to going on not- very- easy walks. Each time it feels that I have conquered my own version of Everest !
So clad in sports shoes (very wrong for wet Ireland), synthetic pants(right), a borrowed trekking stick (very right) and a 2 Euro waterproof from ‘Dealz'(very,very right)I went off with Manel and another lovely friend, Irene to ‘walk’ around a beautiful lake, Lough Dan, in the Wicklow mountains.
The route was first through farmlands near the village, Roundwood, then up a hill, Kanturk -descent through bogs(this in itself is fascinating geography! see my article here )and a section of bracken-clad hillside- and finally down by the side of the river in the valley with the lough or lake Dan. Then back by the side of the hill.
The sky looking ominous-we set off on our trek -I felt as Edmund Hillary probably did on his way to Everest !
Slowly up Kanturk, all the while with stunning views of Lough Dan down below,on our right-
As we went higher – the lake appeared sharper and smaller. It appeared to be a clear, dark grey,reflecting the sky- all the drama that goes on in the sky makes the Irish countryside really beautiful and full of mystery-
If you look carefully in the picture below-at the base of the hill you will be able to see the river Inchavore meandering its way into the lake.
Right on top at 524 metres –
And then down the mountain–oh great ! it was now raining-lightly and steadily–I couldn’t thank Dealz enough for the waterproof. I do love the countryside but its beauty would have been really,truly diminished had I been wet and cold and miserable ! Sorry, no taste yet for walking in the rain !
A small group of abandoned stone cottages– probably abandoned during the infamous famine that afflicted Ireland between 1845 and 1852-(such cottages dot the Irish countryside and are a constant reminder of the famine)-
And then as we descended -our destination being the shores of the lake-stunning gorse bushes bursting with bright yellow flowers! I love pronouncing and rolling the word ‘gorse’around. You see, these are the very bushes that I had read about in Enid Blyton stories when I was maybe 10–and it is only now that I have actually seen them! Enid Blyton wrote about Georgina or Julian trying to hide from smugglers and running through heather,bracken or gorse clad hills ! And here they were-and I was physically walking through them-wow !!
Then on ground level-the river Inchavore -turning and curving through greenery-a view straight out of a Gainsborough painting-
The rain had miraculously stopped ! And I had wet feet ! But Eureka ! Learnt this trick from Manel–just tie plastic bags around your feet, put your socks back on -then put on your shoes. Shoes and socks wet but feet DRY !
Water clear as glass and blue bells in the foreground-these are the views that make these treks worthwhile –
And then there was a real sandy strip of a beach on the shores of- yes, we had reached- Lough Dan. Gorse reflected on its crystal clear waters -tiny raindrops dotting the surface-
And , on the beach, in the distance- a small boat–wonder who it brought-
The boat bobbing gently on the tiny waves of the lake. And we stayed in complete silence-wondering if this is what heaven was –I could have died happy-
We languished a bit on the beach, had an apple and wheat-free muffin each (no, couldn’t get healthier!)and then headed back–the return route along the hill much easier and -thank you, God- free from rain .
So here it is– another route conquered–my version of another Everest conquered !
Thank you, Manel !
Photos by Irene Giviashvilli and self
Read another one of my articles on the beautiful Wicklow mountains by clicking here.
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