Yesterday was rather uneventful, for the most part. I did go out for a walk and got soaked. Raining solid all afternoon. And Steph took me into Tulla for some groceries and more fuel for the fire. I missed the best part of the day, late morning. On thing in Ireland, you gotta get out when it's good or you'll miss it. And regret it!
Today I decided to go on a long ramble. The morning dawned bright and fair, the glen scrubbed clean by last night's rain. I decided to head towards Feakle and see if I could at least find the way to the trailhead to Mass Rock. Fascinated since Steph told me what it was, I wanted to get out there as soon as I got my car.
I packed up my backpack and bundled up. I happened to see Steph on my way out and she offered to drive me up somewhere and then I could walk back. I said "what about Feakle?" and she said "I'll take you up to Mass Rock". So, she drove me up and dropped me off at the trailhead and left me on my own.
You will see from the pictures I started out on a forestry road. I went for probably a kilometer or two through the forest. It was just me, and the birds. No people in sight. But, who knows, I'm terrible with distances! And then I saw the sign for Mass Rock, heading to the left and down through the forest. Mass Rock is on the Ballycroum Loop, which is part of the East Clare Way.
This is when I discovered the landscape can be very deceiving. I walked down a very wet, mucky path, and tried to avoid getting sucked in by going around on the sides. No such luck. I stepped down and whoosh! In went my whole foot, sucked down up to my ankle. At least I got that out of the way. I did get to climb over what's called a "stile", and that was fun. You'll see a picture of it in the photos.
I though that the rest of the trail would be better. Wrong again. Some parts of it were fine. But with the recent rain and snow, some parts were deep thick mud. No choice but to go on, so I hiked up a little into the heather and saw grass and would parallel the trail in the bad parts. Let me just say I got my feet wet several more times. You would think you were stepping down on grass, and then nope, whoosh and in went the whole foot. My shoes are still drying by the fire now.
I would have liked to go further on the trail. In fact, there is a good chance I didn't even make it to the actual rock. But, knowing I didn't have a whole lot of daylight left, and had a lot of road to walk to get home, once I took some pics from the top of what I thought was the rock I headed back. More foot-mucking, as I'll call it. I am proud to report I only slipped once, and no bad came of it. I kept my camera and myself pretty safe. There was not a soul around, and I really didn't want to end up stuck in quick sand or something.
I headed back down the forestry trail to connect up with the road and the long walk home. And it was long. But I got the best part of the day!! I even had to, well, mark my territory on the forestry road. Yes, peeing in the Irish forest. I figured I'd better do it then because I had no chance once I got on the main roads.
And so I walked and walked and walked and took photos and walked some more. I may have been out walking for a solid 3 1/2 hours or so. You can see from the photo stream how my journey progressed. I made it back to the road leading to Feakle, headed left. Now onto the junction, now onto the lane and down the hill where Druid Cottage lies.
I have been trying, without success, to figure out exactly how far I walked. The whole of Ballycroum Loop is 9km, obviously I didn't do all of it. But I did do a portion of it and the forestry road. I give myself 3-4 km for the out and in on that one. I came all the way from the trail head down the road, so that would be about 2-3 km. And home would be probably another 2-3. So, I figure around 9-10 km.
I may need to revisit this place once I can drive to the trailhead and I will be sure to wear my Bogs boots. The trail would have been no issue with those on. I'm beginning to figure out why everyone wears Wellies. It's not just a cute fashion statement, you need them!!! You could go ankle deep into mud at any given time unless you are on a paved road.
And then the coolest thing happened. I lost my sunglasses within the last few days and I was kinda bummed because they would have been handy today. Pretty close to home, I stopped to take a photo, looked down, and there were my sunglasses. A little muddy, yes. But not broken. Not one scratch, nothing. And they were right outside a farm gate and the tractor is in and out of that area all the time! I could not believe they were intact. I took them home and washed them up, good as new.
Tomorrow I'm going to the "Shannonside Winter Music Festival" (http://www.wmw.ie) with Steph. Looks like it will be a lot of fun! She's got a friend in town who plays in one of the bands. I'm fairly certain it will be early to bed for me tonight. I am wiped out after my journey!
I've got lots of new photos up from my excursion today, see them here: