A wet, grey, boggy and challenging hike with discomfort lightened by kindness.
Perhaps the best that can be said about today is that it was a memorable experience even though it turned me and my gear into a soggy, steaming mess!
The little shower that moved in yesterday evening grew during the night and when I peek through the curtains in the early morning, there is nothing to see but grey and I am in the rain-clouds, not just under them.
When I hiked to Allihies from Castletownbere (see HERE), I took the wrong route, confused by notices of closures due to logging work. Today I plan to cover the section I missed before joining the remainder of the route into Eyeries.
As I climb out of Allihies, steeply to a height of 300 metres up Knockoura (“Fragrant Mountain”), visibility is less than 60 metres. Once off the lane, the track gets wetter and wetter underfoot and I soon stop bothering to avoid the boggy puddles altogether. The rain and cloud lifts a little down in the valley where I get a couple of shots of the ruined settlement before my camera steams up inside and becomes useless for the rest of the morning.
I pass the warning notices left by loggers, which are very contradictory, and enter the blighted landscape of clear-felled forestry, spookily silent in the mist with lichen encrusted stumps fading into the gloom and cloud occasionally drawing back before swirling down and covering the treetops and ridge above me. The air is humid and wet and I am soon soaked inside my waterproofs from perspiration.
I go down the winding track which I walked before on a clearer day when I could see Eyeries, apparently not too far off, with the track joining the coast road – or so I thought. Today I can see practically nothing and, at the bottom of the hill, my heart sinks. Instead of following the track, the route is actually waymarked up a steep hillside running with water. Sheep stand dripping and a small herd of cattle squelch through the mud leaving deep hoof-holes.
From here on I just switch off and plod on until the village appears and the rain eases as I turn into the main street with its multicoloured houses. I order a tea and a sandwich in the store-that-sells-everything but discover that my wallet is soaked through, inside my ‘waterproof’ waist pack. I peel off a dripping 20 euro note and apologise – but it’s not a bother to the shopkeeper. Outside I lay out as much as I can on a bench to dry and enjoy the hot tea.
It’s early but my B&B is happy to let me in and puts my wet clothes in the drier and my boots in the car port. Their kindness is heartwarming. In the evening, the skies clear and there is a glorious sunset – hopefully a good omen for tomorrow’s long section.
13.3km (8.3 miles) in about 4 hours.