28 February 2011

my second last long walk to date

You drive along the road from Ballyconneely towards Roundstone until you get to a spot where someone has written "No dogs after this sign" on the rocks. There you climb over the fence and walk around the small lake on soft grassy spongey ground.
Soon you start going uphill between rocks and moss and little streams. You are glad that your boots are waterproof. In places it is very wet and the soil is black and gooey like liquid tar when your feet sink in. Most times it feels as if you are so close to the top before another small ravine means you have to climb down and up again and again.
The sun is quite warm and the wind is gentle and fresh. The odd sheep watch you while you carefully climb higher. It gets a bit tricky towards the top with loose stones now with less grass and moss and more barren dry rocks.
After about two hours or maybe three you are on top of Errisbeg Mountain and you look out around you: to the north the wide expanse of the Emlaghmore bog, a no mans land full of mysterious bog pools and stories of ghosts and fairies and disappearances, the Twelve Bens towering behind. To the east you can glimpse the bay at Roundstone and across to Ballynahinch in the Gaeltacht where a teenage R spent a summer practising his Irish. And to the south and west, this is what you see: Dog's Bay and the Atlantic ocean. It is still and mild up here, the sun bright and benign and you can hear the voices from the people down below, children running and playing on the beach.

Later on you walk along this beach, you take off your boots and socks, roll up your jeans and walk with you feet in the water, stretching your arms open wide and breathing in all this happiness on such a wonderful warm April Sunday in Connemara.

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