Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ulster Way - Where have I been for the last couple days?

Well it’s been a good bit of time since I’ve updated this! Pretty much due to lack of 3G coverage to send e-mails and then battery life, and then a lack of broadband on my rest day, dial up is hell!! Last Wednesday saw me finishing just beside Lough lee and enjoying a beautiful sunset below the surrounding wind turbines and their recurrent 'whoosh's.

The next day saw a long day of around 21 miles passing across the border on my way to Pettigo and after finally crawling into the small rather run down village, enjoying a lovely pint of Bulmers in the crisp evening sun. Pitching up a mile outside of Pettigo left me with 14 miles for the following designated days walk.

With another rather non-descript days of walking finished, I decided to investigate nearby Beleek, home to a pottery factory. Getting into the village was pretty easy, catching a lift on an empty school bus, however getting back to where i left "the way" was near impossible, with only two busses running through the village a day, heading the wrong way.

Finally I got back to where I wanted with my thumb up in the air and the help of a couple boys heading back to Enniskillen after a day at the beach. Climbing up the 'closed' path up the cliffs of Magho resulted in possibly the finest view in the province; showcasing Lough Erne, the Blue Stack Mountains, Donegal Bay and the Sperrin’s. Pushing further on showed the first signs of path building so far, with a plastic carpet (pictured) taking me to the closest forest track. I finally called it quits on a tiny pitch beside Lough Navar, and enjoyed another fine night.

The next mornings walk took me to Doagh Glebe and the days finish, however I continued onwards to Derrygonelly, to spend a couple of nights in civilisation with friends of the family. Nothing quite compares to a shower and a bed after a couple nights under "canvas". A day without walking and carrying a pack, and eating fresh food was well received.

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Merde (Ulster Way)

Anyone out there got a spare bottom per chance?

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Day 11 (Ulster Way)

OVER A THIRD DONE! 200 miles and counting! Just on the other side of kinawley now, and nearly time to get the sleep on. Another very 'close' day that felt like it was gonna rain but never did. Rather warm and unpleasant to walk in. Todays walk took me past the marble arch caves and then into florence court the former seat of the earls of the enniskillen. It seems like the re routing is well under way as florence court wasnt visited under the previous route, lazyness and following the posts took me there. Returning to the classic way saw me take 2miles of road to kinawley, and enjoy some black while there. One must take more care in map reading, as this road walking is killing me! It is certainly destroying my inov8s 295s which have nearly given up after 200miles!

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10th day (Ulster Way)

After a day of rest in derrygonelly i started walking on sunday morning. What should have been an easy days walking resulted in a bit of arse with me walking well off track and not wanting to walk back on myself, not a good combination. After walking aimlessly for an hour i finally reached a sign post and realised i had crossed the border at some stage and was 10miles from belcoo/blacklion. An uneventfuly afternoon full of road walking followed to get me back on track. There is nothing more soul destroying than road walking when you should be in the middle of a forest! Some food in pettigo then onwards another mile to pitch up under a limestone cliffface, which had done a good job of interfering with a phone conversation i was having. A wet night followed but the morning dried up to reveal a thundery day that threatened to rain but never fulfilled.

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Monday, 29 June 2009

Ulster Way - Happy Ending

A massive navigation mistake has a surprisingly happy ending!

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ulster Way - First parcel

A 1mile round trip to find the Mountjoy Post Office leads me exactly back to where I was at the beginning! No wonder i didnt spot it first time round. Under-stated to say the least. Picked up my next food parcel and resupply of gas, also got a refil of water as well. My pack weight has just hopped nearly 4k, happy happy joy joy!

An extreme eating regime will have to be undertaken!

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Day 6 (Ulster Way)

A new day, and what a difference to yesterdays. The 'heatwave' that is turning up on tuesday, came here today, well it felt like it compared to the last couple of cool wetish days. A beautiful morning continued through the day, and if anything it was a little too warm for walking, the weather is never right is it? After a late start, I had passed through barnes gap and arrived in Gortin by 3. Headin up through gortin glen and jumping the broken bridges didnt fill me with confidence for the next coming miles, however this was out done, by the felling of trees in gortin forest, destroyin any paths that were once there. Thankfully, this all changed in gortin forest park, which must be the best marked forest ive came across so far. Finally leaving gortin forest park and decided to call it a day, and time for food. Now its time for sleep.

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Ulster Way - Day Five

The 'thin rain that soaks you through' never really left me yesterday morning, its the sort of rain in which midges thrive and maybe that is why while leaving my tent and trying to pack up they descended upon me in there droves. I haven’t experienced anything quite like it, it was even worse than when we set up a shelter during a survival exercise on top of a midge nest, and that was bad.

In hind sight, it was a really stupid place to pitch up, even if it was flat. After pretty much running away from the midges and where my tent had been, I calmed down a bit. It stayed misty for the rest of the morning and while on the moors my feet got totally soaked, I thought my g-tex socks had given in, but thankfully not, and the water had seeped down my mini gaiters, soaking my socks. A quick sock change and onwards I went, if i had been wearing gore lined footwear, and not just socks, I would be confined to wet feet for the rest of the day, definitely one of my favourite bits of kit at the mo! Thankfully the afternoon brightened up, and after a cloudy time on the tops of the hills i was now on the clear roads, with only a couple passing cars and numerous derelict farm houses to keep me company.

I finally stopped in at the Sperrin Herritage Centre and decided that after eating at a picnic table, that it would also do as my campsite for the night. After such an awful to start the day with, it had ended well; nothing better than sitting in your tent enjoying the view with a brew in hand.

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Monday, 22 June 2009

Ulster Way - Where's the path?

Any one see the waymarked trail in this pic? I didnt see it either. Some trail blazing with walking poles was carried out, however they weren't much use against the fallen trees!

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Ulster Way - Nice Bridges

I dont know who built the bridges in Gorten Glen, but I wouldnt be getting any work done by them any time soon! Probably the reason why it is 'closed!'

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Saturday, 20 June 2009

No radio?

I can send a multimedia email, but can't get any radio signal? Whats that all about! Looks like I will be falling asleep with the tunes on my newly recieved MP3 player, cheers sis!

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Ulster Way - Day Four - Done

No pic from today,so using one taken from Thursday; the 5mile footpath trek from Portstewart to Coleraine. I'm positive others have pointed it out,but this must be the most worthless section unless you are getting services in Colerane. Watching cars constantly speed pass, while you feel your knees becoming part of the road is not my idea of fun, however that was a couple days in the past, history! Quite a short days walk due to a very relaxed morning of reading some of the day old Times over breakfast and waiting for the weather to clear, probably only around 10-12miles. The situation probably wasn't improved by meeting up with my good friend Jenny, but some things are more worthwhile than ticking miles off a route card.

From far off I could see an a4 page in the car window, and the closer I got the more I realised that I had become the subject of an advertising campaign for my walk,with photos et al; apparently this was the product of my sister, Esther, cheers sis! I would be very impressed if anyone Esther has came in contact with wasnt aware of my walk! :-)

A sandwich, cheeky lunchtime cider, and chat then it was onwards to glenshane forest, Jen
was leaving me halfway to get the car and meet me at the other end. For 2nights in a row I have been treated to civilisation; tonight with a pint in the highest pub in Ireland, the Ponderosa (which was lively with people from Dungiven who had successfuly pulled a lorry 10K's and a climb of 200 m's or so) and dinner in Maghera. It was a bit painful to leave the car and walk back to 'the way' but am now lying down in a lovely flat spot with sleep impending, so its all good!

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Friday, 19 June 2009

Ulster Way - End of Day Three

The signs have been getting a bit of abuse!

A long days walk today,lengthened by the search for water,and by an accidental early start (reading my watch incorrectly in the morning, duh!) The early start was punctuated with views of binevinagh and across magiligan point, from Bishops Road; worth battling with the wind up the hill. No doubt they would have been better on a clearer day.

A lot of the remaining days walking was through pretty bland non-descript forests and some semi busy roads,constantly stepping onto the verges to avoid being hit by traffic. Legavannon pot, a deep valley, was the most prominant feature of the late afternoon. The driving force for my continued walking was the pot bar, and a pint of guiness. However it was not to be, as it was closed and setting up for 'The Pots Got Tallent' tomorow night, no doubt it would be a stellar night. Continuing on, giving up on beer and looking for just water, it became apparent either people weren't in or that I looked like a vagrant and too dodgey to open to door to.

Eventually, the second last house this side of a hill I found not only water but also the hospitality of a young couple and their mother. On top of my water bottles filled up, I wasnt allowed to leave without some dinner and a cup of tea in me, it was very much appreciated. Thank you very much Eamon, Claire and Rose!

A couple of K's further on and i found a decent enough pitch. 3miles short of Dungiven and a rough total of 21miles today. Time for sleep!

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