Monday, August 25, 2014

The Fanore Burren Half Marathon 2014

On Friday afternoon I met Frank and we set off to the Burren for a reprise of our trip of two years before. The plan was for me to do the Half Marathon and Frank (who is just getting back to the great outdoors after a four month break) would do the 10K. The weather forecast was pretty good and promised to be sunny until Sunday when a band of rain was to sweep in from the west. We arrived at the stunning wild camping spot near Ballyryan at about 18.30 and we were delighted to see that it was pretty quiet and we wasted no time getting our tents set up and getting ready for dinner. A nice relaxing evening followed as we relaxed and soaked up our wonderful surroundings. We retired to bed before ten to hopefully enjoy a good sleep before the run tomorrow. Alas it was not to be as after 11pm a group arrived and set up camp no more than twenty meters away and they didn't quieten down until after 3am. F##@ers !.
Looking towards Doolin

Modern Art??

All the mod cons for Glicket and Crabbit. Very relaxing
Lovely quiet area,,,for now

Sunset over the Aran Islands
Saturday August 23rd,
I was awake at six and my sleeping mat had sprung a leak so I wasn't overly comfortable but I lazed away the time until eight when I got up. Poor Frank had retired to his car and was trying to get a bit of sleep there. On the plus side the weather was fantastic with a light breeze and sunny skies all about. Despite the lack of sleep I was in good form and looking forward to the day ahead. We feasted on porridge and water (because someone forgot the milk ;o\ ) and excellent coffee (thanks to Frank's espresso maker) and relaxed awhile before setting off on the short drive to Fanore. The scenery was wonderful with the blue sea of Galway Bay stunning and beyond the rugged skyline of Connemara offering promise of adventures in the future. The Fanore Half Marathon is a relaxed "fun" event and doesn't draw big crowds so there was no difficulty parking and registering for the event. There were more people about this year and soon a nice little atmosphere built up. I was looking forward to the run as it is run, half on -half off the road over definitely one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere. I was disappointed to discover that the course was being run in reverse this year so the nice long downhill stretch to the finish would be a four kilometer uphill slog at the start. I won't dwell too much on the run itself except to say that I was surprised to find that it wasn't until nearly nine miles had passed before a water station was provided (there was one after 2 kilometers which was superfluous ) and I think I became quite dehydrated and I suffered really badly over the last few miles and eventually finished in 121 minutes. I was gutted but thanks to Franks good company and the wonderful weather my spirits quickly rose and after a suitable rest and bite to eat I once again was ready to face the day.
The starting landmark...hard to miss

Ballyvaughan

Black Head

The dedicated angler.

We went to visit the busy village of Ballyvaughan which seemed to be overrun with Italians and afterwards we did a spot of fishing near Black Head. I only had a few casts but Frank was more persistent and caught a Pollack the dimensions of which I won't dwell on. Suffice to say it took a while to distinguish it from the feathers :o). We returned to the campsite and relaxed a while but the arrival of the same wallies who had disturbed out peace the previous night made the decision to move further up the road to another spot, which although it was near the road it promised to be much more peaceful. So it proved itself to be and we enjoyed a magic evening in glorious surroundings and a good nights sleep followed.
Great rock climbing to be had at Allidie

A wee bit bracing but beautiful

Across Galway Bay towards Connemara



Sunday 24th August.
The change in weather that had been promised had not yet fully arrived but the blue skies were gone and a stiff breeze was now coming in from the southwest. Still it was dry and as we breakfasted we watched Gannets diving for fish out to sea. We de-camped and went the few hundred meters down the road to Ballyryan to reacquaint ourselves with rock climbing. We managed to have around two hours dry before the rain came in gently and we finally had to stop at midday. It had been great fun and I was somewhat relieved to find that I could still lead to Severe standard anyway. We set off for home in the now steady rain in great spirits and both of us are looking forward to our next chance to repeating the experience. 



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sampling The Best Of The Reeks-The Hags Glen Horseshoe

To my shame it has been five weeks since I had a rucksack on my back so today I made amends and took the opportunity to visit the wonderful Reeks again. My trip to the Alps isn't too far away and I felt I needed a good workout to help with my training so I opted to do the Hags Glen Horseshoe. This is probably the finest horseshoe walk in the range (possibly the country) and with around 17 kilometers of distance and 1700 meters of climbing it would provide a worthy workout. The weather looked like it would play ball as well with plenty of clear skies (although big two were capped with a little cloud) and only a light wind blowing so the day seemed set fair.
The East Reeks looking inviting.
Cnoc na Cuillan looking good

Towards Knockbrinnea

From the summit of Knockbrinnea

The Benkeeragh Ridge

I left the carpark at Lisliebane at 10.45 and did the round in an anti-clockwise direction so I could enjoy the breeze at my back for the second half of the day. As is usual I had the hills to myself until I reached the honeypot of Carrauntoohil where the hum of lots of voices greeted me in the mist long before I could see the cross. Lots of people were about until I passed the "zig zags" and thereafter I once again enjoyed quietude for the remainder of the outing. The weather just got better and better and it was a stunning day long before I arrived back at the car just over six hours after I started.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day in one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.
Towards the Black Valley and beyond

The lower lake and Mangerton

The CnocknaPeiste Ridge

West along the Everagh Peninsula, stunning.
The view back across the Hags Glen

Walk this way