Coast To Coast in Ireland: The Road to Muckross Abbey

Breakfast is a worrisome time. It had been a restless night nursing my banged-up knee. Every bend, no matter how slight, was accompanied with a sharp sting at the joint. Constant tossing and repositioning myself in bed, trying to find that magic spot where the pain would go away, only seemed to magnify it. I am now entertaining unwelcome thoughts of delaying our walk for a day. A visit to the doctor seems like a wise course of action.

But an irrational need to keep going ultimately trumps reason. As I push away from the breakfast table, fuelled for the day by eggs, bacon and coffee, I am determined to walk, to see how it will go. After all, this day is guaranteed as easy as pie. Just 20 kilometres, all downhill and all on paved country roads. Continue reading

Coast To Coast in Ireland: A Hard Day on the Blackwater

My photographs do not do justice to this day’s walk. Perhaps because I am too preoccupied with the task of survival to worry about taking puctures.

You will recall that, six days ago when we started on the Blackwater Way, I registered some concern that this trail system was reportedly less developed and more rugged than the rest of the Irish coast to coast walk. The first part, the Avondhu Way, was challenging but not overly so and we successfully completed it. The second part, the Duhallow Way, started with yesterday’s overly long walk to Millstream. But other than the distance factor, it was an enjoyable walk. Six days on the Blackwater seemed to negate any earlier concerns.

So we were expecting today’s walk, a mere 25 kilometres, to be a pleasant end to the Duhallow Way as well as its mother trail, the Blackwater Way. Continue reading

Coast To Coast in Ireland: Intersections

Our taxi drops us back at Bweeng, in front of a forest of signs telling us where we’ve been – the Avondhu Way – and pointing us where we need to go. It’s the first of two days on the Duhallow Way and we know it will be a long one. Forty kilometres long if the route remains true to our maps.

Duhallow Way is one part of the much longer Blackwater Way, the other part being the Avondhu Way we have just traversed. But even that is but one small segment of a much longer trail, the E8 European Long Distance Walking Trail. Continue reading

Coast To Coast in Ireland: Two Days on Avondhu Way

Our day’s rest in Cork was well-timed at roughly the midpoint of our coast to coast walk. A chance to give our backs a needed break from carrying packs. But it’s still hard to leave our comfortable hotel room and catch an early morning bus to Fermoy, the starting point for the last two stretches of the Avondhu Way. Continue reading

Coast To Coast in Ireland: Arrival

While my posts describing our coast-to-coast walk in Ireland are well behind the actual walking, our schedule continues at an unforgiving pace. In fact, today, May 29, we successfully completed our cross-country walk!

We arrived at the western tip of Ireland, Bray Head, on beautiful Valentia Island. Beyond the cliffs lies the Atlantic Ocean, calm today under clear, warm skies. In the other direction lies, a small fishing village and the final resting stop on our Irish walk.

It’s been 24 days on trails, crossing the island from Dublin to this point. A devilish 666 kilometers in total across mountains and bogs, through forests and along ocean cliffs. A tough slog indeed.
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Coast To Coast in Ireland: Cork

After 14 days of non-stop walking, a day’s rest in the nearby city of Cork is a welcome change of pace.

Cork itself is a place that calls out to the walker. It’s a bustling little city with streets that lead into still smaller lanes, encouraging us to lose ourselves with the throngs of fellow flaneurs in the maze of shops and pubs. 

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Coast To Coast in Ireland: Avondhu Way

Where the East Munster Way ends, in front of a small church in Clogheen, so begins the Avondhu Way. It’s the first leg of a much longer trail system, the Blackwater Way, named after and loosely following Ireland’s longest river, the Blackwater.

Blackwater Way carries a certain amount of mystery and uncertainty. Of all the trails that form the Irish coast-to-coast network, this one has the least information available. And what information that can be found talks about poor or missing signage, reroutings due to landowner quibbles, too much travel on tarmac. And its remoteness. 

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Coast To Coast in Ireland: East Munster Way

From Carrick-on-Suir, our walk flows seamlessly into a three-day hike along the East Munster Way. So too, the scenery is a familiar rural setting with each day seeing us climbing reasonably scaled hills and descending into river valleys. Along the way, locals greet us openly and spend time to talk about our hike, the state of the Irish economy and, especially, the state of the weather and appreciation of even a modest display of sunlight.
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Coast To Coast in Ireland: South Leinster Way

Our walk across Ireland follows a thread of paths, each independent yet connected end-to-end. We have just finished the Wicklow Way, taking us from Dublin to Clonegal. Today we head off on an unmarked 4-kilometer jaunt leading to the small town of Kidlavin, the start of our next thread of trails, the South Leinster Way.

 

It takes us four days to walk the 102-kilometer length of the South Leinster. The scenery still has its ups and downs, but it is less demanding than the Wicklow. And we encounter more villages, more farmscapes, more signs of human occupation along the way.

 

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Coast To Coast in Ireland: Two Days to Clonegal

We have two more days of walking to complete the Wicklow Way, the first leg of our 24-day tramp across Ireland. 70 kilometers of walking unevenly split, first with a 30-kilometer hike from Glenmalure to Tinahely and then with a more grueling 40-kilometer day to Clonegal, the end point of the  trail.

The scenery is starting to change. Tall mountains, with the requisite climbs to their peaks, are gradually giving way to smaller hills and a more agrarian landscape. Which is not to say that there is not a lot of climbing involved. It’s just that one big climb is replaced with several smaller hills to conquer. To be exact, there is between 900 and 1000 meters gain in elevation on each of these last two Wicklow walks.

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