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The videos are up. If any of you would like a better quality DVD (with photos and extra video footage) of the whole thing, send me an email.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

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Sunday brought us from Kenmare to Killarney along the old road, a distance of around 18km. It took us through some of the best scenery that Ireland has to offer.

The terrain was excellent for long distance walking. Gravel paths, railway sleepers and flagstones kept our tormented feet well away from the worst of the boggy land.

The path is very interesting. Trees emerge from the bog in unusual places, abandoned homesteads dating back to the time of the famine are common, and we walked through a narrow glen in one place that seemed to come right from the movie “Darby O’Gill and the Little People”.

After a number of hours we descended the steps by Torc Waterfall. Only a few minutes to go. Or so I thought. We still had Muckross Estate to get through.

And finally, the Brehon Hotel, the finish line, and a chance to take off our boots at long last..

Update: Video of Day 3

 

Maybe we’ll see you on the 2009 walk?

Saturday brought out the crowds. Over 200 people gathered together in Sneem for the walk to Kenmare. 

This walk was the longest of the lot – 28km (19 miles). It’s around 42,000 footsteps and our boots reminded us of this fact with each footfall. The walk was relatively flat, with long stretches on tarmac mingled with a good deal of woodland walking. 

After what seemed like an endless forced march, we ended up in Pat Spillane’s Pub for a quick pint. It could have all ended there…

… but no. We had a few more hills to climb…

… and donkeys to annoy.

Update: Here’s the video of Day 2

It’s over. My feet are sore, but the experience was terrific.

This is the a quick report on the first day of the walk.

Day 1 took us from Caherdaniel to Sneem, a distance of 18km. Around 150 people participated. We walked through a variety of different landscapes: from woodland to mountain bog. The pace was fast, with few breaks in between. 

One of the big treats of the day was coffee and scones in a house that was open to all the walkers. It happened about an hour into the walk though, so it lulled us into a false sense of security! The next few hours were conducted at a fast pace, with few breaks in between.

The last part of the trip was mainly flat and along small country roads. It was a race to the finish. Sneem was about to host it’s annual Wife Carrying Competition: if only our team could have taken part..

 

Update: Here’s the video for Day 1. (3m)

I took a trip to Purple Mountain in County Kerry this weekend. Purple Mountain is the highest in a small cluster of peaks directly across the lake from the town of Killarney.

Ash Tree in Gap of Dunloe

We started our trip by the tourist centre at Kate Kearney’s cottage. From there we walked through the Gap of Dunloe, a spectacular narrow valley cutting through Ireland’s highest range of mountains. A low cloud accompanied us for the entire distance. It was magical.

The fog lifts

As if on cue, the fog lifted just as we began our ascent. We spent an hour and a half climbing uphill beneath an unrelenting sun.

The view south of Purple Mountain

Dry blanket bog gave way to loose stone during the last few metres of the climb to the summit. The mountain is well-named: the old red sandstone gives the mountain a purplish hue from afar. While we were there, a helicopter flew through the Gap. You don’t see a helicopter flying beneath you every day.

Purple Mountain

We proceeded on to Tomies mountain where we were rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in all of Ireland. To the West rose the Magillicuddy Reeks and Carrauntoohil. To the North, the Dingle Peninsula swept into the sea. To our East was Killarney, Lough Leane and the mountains beyond. 

Thunder threatens

The sounds of thunder could be heard in the distance. Rain swept down in torrents near Mangerton. The rumbles began to get louder. It was time to go. 

Ballycotton

What a day.. not too hot, not too cold, a refreshing breeze, good company and delightful scenery throughout. This was the charity cliff walk from the small village of Ballycotton to the even smaller village of Ballinrostig in East Cork.

Ballycotton Walk2

The walk stretched 20 km (13 mi) along beaches, over cliffs, through dense bushes and across fields with the walkers never too far from the coastal margin. Over 360 people attended today, raising money for the local Chernobyl charity.

Ballycotton Walk3

Ballycotton Walk4

I am very familiar with the local coastline, although my walks tend to be along the rocks, where I constantly have to be alert to changes in the tide.

Ballycotton Walk5

It was a long walk. We started at 11.30 am and didn’t finish until after 4.30. Many people (the serious types) managed it in much less time. At the end of the walk, there were sandwiches and soup waiting for us. They tasted utterly delicious.

Ballycotton Walk6

Barcelona1

I’m in Barcelona tonight, attending a 3 day training course. I was here before a few years ago, but I had forgotten how beautiful the city is. Every building has its own individual character.

Barcelona3

We had our evening meal in a restaurant called “Los Caracoles” (The Snails), just off Las Ramblas. We walked right through the kitchen to get to the restaurant. And what a restaurant! It’s a rabbit warren, with small rooms everywhere – upstairs, downstairs, nested in alcoves, stretching beyond low corridors. A veritable Hogwarts for food addicts.

Barcelona4

Celtic supporters were out in force tonight, but the mood was somewhat suppressed given that they were defeated 1-0 by Barcelona. That means a good sleep for me tonight.

I managed to get myself up very early last weekend in order to take a few photos down by the coast while the sun was low in the sky.

Morning sunrise

This photograph, of the fields, the mist and the windswept bush in the foreground, was taken on my way down to the beach. I love it.

Bird on Ballybrannigan Beach Glow on the rocks Monster head

The above are a few photos taken of the coast and the rocks as they are bathed in the orange searchlight glow of sunrise. Check out the rock monster poking his head out of the ground!

I took these shots with my mobile phone camera near Sean O’Casey Bridge on my way back from work last Monday.

The Liffey from John Rogersons Quay

This picture was taken just south of Sean O’Casey Bridge, a low sun and surprisingly few people around.

The Docklands from Sean O’Casey Bridge

The docklands are undergoing a massive transformation. For some years now, tall cranes have dominated this area, once populated by warehouses and derelict sites.

Sunset over Dublin

Finally the Ulsterbank group headquarters, Connolly Hall, the Customs House and the Spire in silhouette, as the sun diminishes into the west.

I was in Brittany a few weeks ago, attending the wedding of a good friend of mine. My elder kids and my mum came with me. Even though we only had a week before the kids went back to school, we managed to see a lot of the Breton countryside (as well as a few places in Normandy too).

Carnac Plage

Carnac is one of the busiest beaches in Brittany – soft white sand, calm waters and one of the best ice-cream shops I have ever visited in my life. Oh, and they do sand sculptures too. Pah! Easy-peasy. Anyone could do it.

Carnac Megaliths

Carnac is famous for its 6,000 year old megaliths – granite pillars of varying size, aligned in rows and columns over a distance of almost 4 kilometres. Some people say it was a vast army turned into stone. Others claim it had a religious and astronomical purpose. I think myself it might have functioned as gigantic spreadsheet for Bronze Age accountants.

Gavres

I found a number of imposing World War II fortifications in Gavres – a small village overlooking the city of Lorient. Lorient was a major U-boat base during the war. The city was practically razed to the ground during the first months of 1943.

Mont St Michel

Le Mont St Michel, in the extensive mudflats of western Normandy, is one of the great “must see” places in Europe. Built on a granite outcrop and accessible via a long narrow causeway, the monastery dates back to the 8th Century with the main fortifications dating from the 15th century. It even served as a prison for a while after the French Revolution. More recently, Peter Jackson used it as his template for Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings. Yeah, yeah, it’s touristy and kitchy inside, but even so, it’s an impressive and inpirational place. The views take your breath away.

Kids in Utah Beach

Here are my kids in a classic “James Bond” pose on a concrete defense in Utah Beah, the most northerly of the main landing beaches in Normandy. The invasion sequence in the film “Saving Private Ryan” was shot in Ireland, on Curracloe Beach in Wexford. The similarities between the beaches are incredible. Now quiet and placid, it is impossible to imagine what the beach would have looked like during the summer of 1944.

Sunset

Finally, a sunset scene: taken from the ship on our way back home.

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