Craiguenamanagh – Tinahely

91 Graiguenamanagh - Tinahely

 Stage no. 91
Date Wednesday 29 August 2018
Distance stage       77,5 km
Distance acum. 3.421,0 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike B (very interesting): lots of variety in scanery, great views

Link to Strava

During my day off, yesterday, I got frustrated that I have to spend one of the very few days that I have available in my calendar to spend in Ireland by taking rest and shuffling around my room without shoes. I want to try to compensate for this loss of time in the days to come.

The owner of the B&B apologized yesterday evening for not having any breakfast available before 8.00 (“that’s the pace of rural Ireland”). If I have to leave without breakfast anyway I will use the nightly hours to make it a really great day. I leave the B&B at 00.59 and cross the bridge to the other side of the river.

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leaving Craiguenamanagh in the middle of the night

It is as dark as it can get, but after I have left the village and its lights behind me, my eyes start feeling comfortable in the dark. I have my headlight on but I use it only once every two minutes or so for a short flash. The Trail follows the bank of the river, in a narrow trail between the high grass. It is very straightforward; if you fall in the water you have gone too much to the left! After two hours I arrive at the first bridge that crosses the river. I follow the road to the northeast to the village of Borris. The street is empty, but well lit. In Borris I go left / northeast again following the road to Mount Leinster. This countryside road is dark and narrow, but at this hour of the night, at 3.20. it is quiet. The road goes up the hill, with some steep sections. I keep an easy pace, most important is to keep moving as I have a long day ahead of me.

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on the way to Mount Leinster

In the early morning light Just after the dawn has started I reach the shoulder of Mount Leinster, 24 kilometers after my start of this morning. The view is spectacular here at 440 meters altitude. It is cold, the sky is clear and there are some low hanging clouds between the hills in the north.

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view from (the shoulder of) Mount Leinster

I sit down on a bench to have a break and enjoy the scenery. After 10 minutes or so I have to continue, gently downhill still using the paved road. The signs of The South Leinster Way continue to be very good and lead me to the village of Kildavin, the finish of the South Leinster Way.

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From there it takes some 40 mintes to hike to the village of Clonegal, which is the southern starting point of the Wicklow Way, the final host of the E8 in Ireland. The sky is clear blue, the temperature is bit more than what I would have wished for but it is great to be outdoors. The Trail continues to use the regular paved road, which is boring but easy and welcome to my feet. I leave Clonegal, at the starting sign of the Wicklow Way at 10.00.

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I feel very good, although tired, but it is exciting to realize that I have a big part of the day still ahead of me and that I have already covered 40 kilometers. Further down the road, after some kilometers, the Trail uses here and there forest roads for a while but always comes back to regular roads. The slopes in this southern part of the Wicklow Way are gentle, and although sometimes steep they are never very high. In the afternoon I maintain a reasonable pace, the landscape and the weather are great and I love to be on my way to the horizon. I have a few short breaks every now and then, long enough to recover my breath but short enough to keep the pressure on my feet to keep going. Ona forrest road I meet a hiker who is coming towards me. She is from Belgium, and started last year in Dublin with the Wicklow Way and she is finishing it this year. Although the Wicklow Montains, and the Wicklow Way, are well known for hiking, and August is an ideal month for hiking in Ireland I barely meet others hikers.  At the end of the afternoon I feel that my steps are not as well coordinated as earlier in the day. The Trail is crossing forest roads now, with stones here and there. Although I would have loved to have an 80+ kilometer stage I don’t want to risk of stumbeling and falling. I have been  checking for a place to have a dinner or to sleep but I am crossing the middle of nowhere.

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I feel very well, although very tired, and I don’t want to leave the Trail for luxury such as a hot meal or a bed. From 18.30 on I am looking for a good bivouac location and finally, at 19.15, I find one; I call it a day high on a hill southwest of Tinahely, from where I have fantastic views to the southwest where I can see all the way to the Irish Sea. Below me is a meadow and in the valley there are some farm houses. It is quiet, the sunlight is fading away and I am glad not having to walk anymore.

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