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And they said that squeezing 16 hrs of walking in Kerry down to two and a half minutes could not be done. Pah! I grimace menacingly in their general direction.

Here is the video of the walk. Right here, right now.

I’m back from a three day sojourn in south Kerry, walking 71 km in aid of cancer research. The format of the event this year was different from previous years, in that we were based in the same location for the whole weekend, with all walks terminating in Kenmare. We were brought to our starting point by bus from Kenmare each morning. (Kenmare is a smashing little town in south Kerry, a short distance from some of the most superb scenery in the country. If you are thinking about a trip to Ireland, it is an absolute must-see).

Moll's Gap

Moll's Gap

On Friday we travelled from Moll’s Gap to Kenmare. It was a relatively easy road walk, with the final few kilometers trudging through the hills above Kenmare. The distance was 17km, so it wasn’t too difficult. Conditions on the hills were very wet (no surprise given the rain of the last few weeks).

Lauragh to Kenmare

Lauragh to Kenmare

Saturday was the most challenging walk. We started out from Lauragh in the Beara Peninsula, and we had to overcome two hills and a long road-walk before we arrived, exhausted and footsore, into Kenmare about 8 hours later. The conditions were quite challenging, in that the ground underneath was either rocky, or very loose or sodden wet. Nevertheless the scenery was spectacular, the temperature was just right and the rain stayed away.

IMG_3322 - Old Road 1

Old Kenmare Road

Sunday was the last of the walks, from Torc Waterfall outside Killarney to Kenmare along the Old Road. This is an absolutely fantastic walk, although not for the faint-hearted. It’s a trek of about 21 km, but at times the scenery looks like something out of Disneyland. The most challenging part of the route was the end – a steep incline then decline on hard road, when my feet were shouting at me “no more”! Sunday was our wettest day. In Kerry they don’t get the kind of rain we are used to. They don’t do drizzle, or moist weather, or soft days. No, in Kerry it’s the Real Thing. From dry to drenched in 0.6 milliseconds.

IMG_3328 - Silver Bullets

All in all, a fantastic three days. I feel great from the walk, the company was great and I have to say that the organisation was fantastic throughout. I’ve had enough bananas and flapjacks to last me a lifetime.

If you would like to do something big for charity in 2010, or you just want a weekend to remember, this is the thing to do!

On Sunday I participated in an annual charity walk from Ballycotton to Ballinrostig in Co. Cork. It’s a pretty special occasion because it is the only time in the year that walkers are permitted by the local land-owners to hike the route. As the video below will testify, the scenery is quite stunning. It’s not the easiest of walks – you have to negotiate quite a few barbed-wire fences – but the end is definitely worth the effort. The weather on Sunday was unseasonably good, which helped greatly. 

So here is the video. Enjoy!

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)

My charity walk begins this weekend. We will be starting in Caherdaniel at 8.30 tomorrow morning, ending up in Killarney around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday. This means I have to leave home at 5am tomorrow. I thought I was ready until I met up with a friend last night to go through last minute preparations. 

Tonight. I need to organise a map, a flask, bottled water, two sets of walking trousers, socks, two pairs of boots, suntan lotion (factor 40), sandwiches in sandwich boxes, crisps, chocolate, fruit, vaseline, blister cream, plasters, bandages, paracetamol, a cap, lip-balm, insect repellent, sunglasses, rain gear, underwear, tee-shirts, 4 sets of stockings, a jumper, my wallet, gloves, a laundry bag, pyjamas, a toilet bag, towels, a mobile phone and a phone charger, a camera and its charger, a walking stick, a book and my new iPod. 

Whew.

And just now I’ve sent an out of office message to almost everybody I have contacted for every mail they have sent me in the past two months. That’s good. That’s real good.

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. 

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