I Gained the Gift of Eloquence…Apparently

After our hiking adventure we chose to spend the rest of our holiday being traditional tourists and visiting the sights that Cork had to offer.

We were staying at Sheila’s Hostel for a couple of nights to save ourselves a little bit of moolar. It wasn’t as fancy as the brochure makes it look but it did the job. It was in a good location, close to the centre of town and the staff there were friendly and really helpful. We again had a shared room but it ended up being just us two, which was lovely. The place is great for travellers but if you’re looking for somewhere to have a good nights sleep, this isn’t the place for you. The big heavy doors need some kind of mechanism on them to stop them slamming because that is all you hear through the entire building. The only other problem was that our room was windowless, which meant that it got very very warm in there. Oh well…for £15 each, a bed is a bed and we didn’t spend that much time in there anyway.

For our first full day in Cork we decided to catch a coach to Blarney Castle. Nick’s grandparents told us about this earlier on in the year and said it was a must see. It wasn’t too far on the coach, even though my feeties were more than happy for the journey to last longer. It was a glorious sunny day so this was perfect weather to do a bit of sight-seeing. The Blarney Castle was built around 600 years ago and is situated within the most beautiful gardens that you can wander round. As you follow the path up towards the castle, its structure just seems to appear from behind the trees and looks like a scene out of a movie. The path was lined with trees that were wrapped in knitted covers, which was super cute and added a little quirky colour to the surroundings.

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This castle is a partial ruin but you are still able to visit the various rooms which gives you a good idea of how large and grand this building must have been when people were living there. Now the main thing to do when you come to visit the Blarney Castle is kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss this stone you will be gifted with eloquence. Now I must confess that I had to google this afterwards as I didn’t have a clue what this word meant, but I went and kissed it anyway as the word sounded pretty positive to me. Did they put this stone at the bottom of the castle at an average person’s height? Noooo don’t be silly, they aren’t going to just give this eloquence away. This stone is placed at the top of the castle, but low enough that you have to lie on your back, hold on to two bars and lean yourself back down a hole and stretch your neck out to kiss this smooth rock. Now I’m not the greatest with heights. I’m not terrible, but you know when you get a little wobbly and butterflies in your stomach. I went first whilst Nick had his GoPro rolling. A guy who works there tells you what to do and holds on to you gently as you lean yourself over the edge. I stupidly looked down towards the ground waaaayyyy below me before I kissed the stone. I didn’t realise I would have to stretch so far for it. Now Nick’s turn, he passed me the GoPro and I pointed the camera towards him as he kissed the Blarney stone. Here is where I may have made a little bit of a mistake. I assumed that when Nick passed me the camera that it was still rolling from my stint. Errrr turns out it wasn’t! DOH!

"crap!"

“crap bags!”

I think I’ve done this before on our travels on one or two occasions and I felt so guilty that I decided to purchase the over priced touristy pictures that were taken. It was the least I could do for missing him in action. I’m pleased I got them though, how cool are they!!!

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For once we weren’t in a hurry to be anywhere or to reach a destination at a certain time so we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and went on a little stroll around the surrounding gardens.

I would definitely recommend a visit to the Blarney Castle if you are ever visiting Cork. I bet these grounds look breathtaking in Autumn when all the leaves have changed colours and the sky is clear.

Hope you enjoyed my little post.

-MooFace-


Links

Sheila’s Hostel – We had a 4 bed room (bunk beds) with an en suite and this cost us £15 each per night.

Blarney Castle – This cost us about £10 each for entry to the Castle and the grounds.

What’s That I Hear You Say? I’ve Been Back From Ireland For Ages and STILL Haven’t Finished These Blog Posts?! Yes I’m Rubbish!

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The Last Leg of The Wicklow Way

With our tents packed up we couldn’t quite believe that this would be our final day of hiking. By the evening we would have completed 100 miles, The Wicklow Way, in just 5 days! For two inexperienced hikers this would be a massive feat. I’m really glad we got to stay in this beautiful little town. It was so quaint with the bunting everywhere and the small local shops.

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We headed off in the direction of our final destination, Clonegal. Just 15 miles to go. The sun was shining and the path was mostly flat, which was lovely. However, even with such flat terrain, after 4 days of intense hiking our bodies were struggling. Every sign we passed we were counting down the miles and trying to predict how long we had left. After the first 5 miles we took cover from the midday sun and let our feet breathe. The thick socks and crazy heat had caused my feet to break out in heat rash. Grim! I let my feet enjoy the breeze and wriggle room for a while until the sun started its long decent. As much as I didn’t want to I had to put my poor feeties back in their boot cages ready for the next 10 miles. Just 10 miles to go!

We hit a long straight road, it was so long that we couldn’t even see where it would end. These past two road walking days were very different to the earlier days. Not only because of the terrain, but the effect that this terrain had on our motivation and our moods. The paths were easier on our bodies, but the views were not as breathtaking and distracting from the task of hiking. My feet were happy for the Tarmac below them, but my brain missed the valleys, the breeze whipping my hair across my face and the challenges of getting across to the next map marker.

About half way down this long old road a car passed us and pulled over just ahead. A very kind lady offered us a lift to the next town. We looked at each and then back at her, our heads slowly turned to the comfy empty seats that lay just behind her. It was so tempting but we had come too far to bail now. We thanked her but declined the offer. As she drove away we wondered whether we had made the right decision. I’m happy to say we did.

At the next junction we decided to have a little lunch break. Gas cooker, flavoured rice, water…done! I lay back on my bag, just listening to the sound of the world go by, staring at the sparse clouds that littered the sky. I was actually starting to enjoy this outdoor living. I kind of felt like I did when I was travelling round Asia. Nothing to worry about but getting to our next destination. I am really looking forward to planning our BIG travelling adventure. We still haven’t ironed out the details…but we will be very soon.

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After packing up our lunch things, we headed down the road and reached a cross roads. Were my eyes deceiving me?! Could it be? There was a sign for Clonegal and it actually said “1 mile to go”. If we could have sprinted there we would have. We did pick up the pace a little though…well as much as our legs would actually let us.

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Before we knew it, there it was “Welcome to Clonegal” We hugged the sign with such excitement! We’d only gone and bloody done it!! 100 miles in 5 days! We had completed The Wicklow Way!

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With no pubs open, what with it being in the middle of the afternoon in a tiny village we parked up on a bench next to this gorgeous river and admired our surroundings. Such a lovely little place to finish our hiking adventure in.

We were informed by some fellow Wicklow Way hikers that the only place where we would be able to catch a coach to Cork, was in a town 4 miles away! The thought of walking another 4 miles sent shivers through my body. The two hikers were staying over night in Clonegal and getting up early to head to Bunclody. We couldn’t face getting up super super early for another morning of walking and we just wanted to kind of get it out the way. So with our bags and boots back on we headed south. This time however we wouldn’t be turning down any lift offers and actually stuck our thumbs out to hitch a ride. I have never done this in my life and never thought I would!

After about 10 minutes of cars passing us by I gave up on the idea of this actually working. I kept sticking my thumb out though, just in case. As we struggled up a steep hill a small car passed us….and actually pulled over at the top. It had only gone and bloody worked. Irish people…you guys rock!!! This guy, probably around my age, was also heading to Bunclody and said he was happy to take us! YES! So we all got chatting…you know, the usual conversation questions. Where have you been? Names? Where have you come from? When I mentioned Essex he looked back at me in the review mirror:

“You don’t live near Bas Vegas do you?”

Now only people from Essex seem to know of and ever call Basildon Festival Leisure Park, Bas Vegas!

“Er…I actually don’t live that far from there. How do you know of Bas Vegas?”

It turns out he had lived in London and Kent for years and had often visited friends in Basildon. I mentioned I went to university in Kent and…small bloody world…we had both gone to the same art institute around the same time.

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He was a wicked guy and told us the best places to head to for dinner and areas to avoid when he dropped us off. Driver man, who ever you are, I thank you dearly!

After dinner the guy behind the bar told us of a park that we could camp in that wouldn’t be any trouble. This was my least favourite wild camp of them all. It wasn’t like a foresty park, it was a football/rugby park where a lot of people walked their dogs and carried out their evening jogs. I didn’t feel sheltered from prying eyes and felt very uneasy as I got into my tent. Nick kindly gave me some weapons to help me feel safer. A mini shovel and a swiss army knife that looked like it had come out of a Christmas cracker, I think it did actually come out of a cracker last year. It would have to do! I fell asleep hugging my defensive weapons of choice.

I felt much better in the morning once all my stuff was packed up and my wild camping days had come to an end. The next part of our holiday was much more traditional in the way of a city break. A coach to Cork to take in the sights, the food and the local booze!

Hiking mission – DONE!

-MooFace-

Day 2 – I see pride, I see power, I see a badass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody

I woke up pretty much in the same position I fell asleep in, I was that tired. It took a while for my brain to re adjust and remember where I was and what went on the day before. As I stretched, my achy muscles soon jogged my memory of the 20 miles we’d completed previously. Instead of getting up straight away, I decided to just lie back and enjoy the feeling of being stationary and relaxed. I knew today was going to be tough with my already achy limbs.

The grey clouds soon dispersed and left us with a glorious sunny start to the day. With our bellies full and sunscreen applied we headed downhill to pick up the Wicklow Way where we’d left off. We were told that day 2 of the route was the most beautiful and this seemed to be true from the get go.

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Our route took us through a leafy forest path down a very welcoming hill. With the sun on our faces and a gentle breeze keeping us cool, we were both really excited about the day ahead. We knew it would get tough but with such a beautiful start it made us realise why we chose to take on this challenge.

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As we took on our first winding up hill climb of the day, we paused to look back over where we had come from. Down in the valley we could see the Knockree Hostel below, planted in the hillside amongst the greenery. Even after only an hour of walking, we had come so far already. We rounded a corner and the path levelled out. The cliff edge slowly revealed a secret as we drew closer to the edge. An amazing waterfall lay in the valley. I could see people milling around it, having picnics and dipping their toes in the icy water. We were really hoping the path would take us down to it, would have been such a lovely stop for lunch. Sadly the path crept around it, keeping us high in the mountains.

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We headed down our next rocky hill and came across this beautiful spot for a quick lunch break. If we had known the day before that this area was here we probably would have carried on a little bit further to reach it. It would have been the perfect wild camping spot, and there was evidence that people had had the same idea. It was a grassy area, flat enough for the tents and was right next to the Glencree river. It was really picturesque. With my bag off my back and my shoes off, I let my toes wriggle in the breeze. I leaned back, with a Nutrigrain bar in hand and my eyes closed. I was content in the world at that very moment.

Before we left, we took the opportunity to fill up our water bottles. Being such a warm day, we seemed to be racing through our supplies. It was lovely and cold and crystal clear. We did add a chlorine tablet though just to be on the safe side, didn’t want to risk any dodgy stomachs whilst out in the middle of no where, hehe. Feeling refreshed and stocked we continued on our path. Our next challenge: getting up through Powerscourt Paddock and up Djouce Mountain. Not quite to the 700m peak but close at about 650-655m.

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As we hiked, we chatted. We chatted about all kinds of things along the way: from future travels plans, to films we liked, food, friends and family…but we kind of got distracted. It wasn’t until we reached the bottom of a hill that we decided to check the guide book. Silly Sallys! Our surroundings didn’t seem to match what we were reading in front of us. Luckily we came across a couple who pointed back up…way up, where we had just come from. We had missed out turning and was forced to bow our heads and struggle back up the hillside. We had added 2 miles onto our day. This may not seem much but when the next part of the trek is up a 650m steep gradient, those 2 miles feel like 10 :p

We found that shouting out a bit of Cool Runnings helped us get to the top. We’re so weird sometimes ha ha.

I see pride, I see power, I see a badass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody

We did make it though, we may have been over taken by mountain bikers (how did they do that?!) but we made it. We quickly dumped our bags and fell into a heap on the floor. My god was it beautiful up there! We could see for miles. The peak had been conquered. Errr or so we thought….

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…we turned the corner of the mountain to see that the path was continuing to climb. Shit! We still had about 100m to climb. ha ha. This path was very thin and hugged the mountain side. Sheep stood on tiny rock platforms, hopping around making it look so effortless. We could hear the sound of water running and checked our depleting water bottles. We’d stumbled across the source of a stream, coming straight out from the rocks. Again it was crystal clear and so refreshing to drink, no need for a purifying tablet this time.

The path became a lot easier once it turned into wooden sleepers that carved our path ahead. They trailed off over the edge of the mountain and out of sight.

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These sleepers took us all the way to the other side of Djouce Mountain to a spectacular view overlooking Lough Tay. Perfect photo opportunity as you can see. Poses at the ready…

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We took a short break here, the sun was warm but luckily we had the wind flowing up over the mountains to keep up cool. We took a seat and admired the gorgeous view. Peace and quiet, just the sound of the wind rustling our hair. Sadly this lough was a little out of our path but we were hoping to reach Lough Dan to pitch our tents beside that night. It had been a long day and we were looking forward to getting our shoes off and eating a ‘cooked’ meal.

It was surprising to see how much deforestation was going on within the Wicklow way. We were often passing acres of stumps, which was sad to see. The next description of our route instructed us to follow the sleepers down the hill and through a forest until we reached the road. We could see down the mountain side, see the sleepers, see the road but there wasn’t a single tree either side of this path. Even though new trees had been planted in the empty patches, it would take decades before the forest would be restored to its former glory and then I’m guessing these would be cut down as well. Just seems such a shame.

As we hit the road the tiredness started to kick in. My feet started to burn and my muscles were pleading for the end of the day. We had the chance to follow the road and head straight to a campsite in Roundwood, however we both agreed that we had come that far and we might as well stick to the route and wild camp as planned. I was rather nervous about my first experience wild camping. I was worried that we would get woken in the early hours of the morning by an angry farmer kicking us off their land (understandably of course). Nick pointed out possible locations along the way, but I was nervous by neighbouring houses so we carried on in the direction of Lough Dan.

As we passed through a field on the way to the lough we found ourselves in a large open space with what looked like faded patches of grass caused by tents. There was a water tap and even a pub style bench. This was a campsite…but with no one around. It wasn’t long before we realised we had stumbled across a campsite used by girl guides and boy scouts but was evidently closed for the week. With no one around we picked a spot near the back. Even though it was clear that nobody was going to come across us, I still found myself talking in a whispered tone.

Nick was keen to pitch the tents first but I was still nervous about being found so we agreed to wait a little longer for it to get a little darker. It was dinner time. A gourmet meal of super noodles. It may not look like much but my god it hit the spot. After a day of Nutrigrain bars, noodles was a welcoming dinner.

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Now the only problem with this campsite was the midges. Loads of them, and flies…everywhere. I tried covering my face with my checkered shirt whilst I pitched my tent but I couldn’t take much more of it. As soon as our tents were pitched and our belongings were slung inside we dived in to escape the hordes.

Me and Nick decided (much to my dismay) that we would take a 1 man tent each. They were lighter to carry and evenly carried between the both of us. Luckily, pitched right next to each other, we could still easily chat. Not that the conversation carried on for long. We were both so exhausted from our brilliant day that our voices soon descended into silence.

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“Nick do you think someone is coming?! What if they find us? What if they mug us?”

I woke Nick up. Whilst clutching my sleeping bag, I tried to listen out for footsteps approaching but I could only hear the sound of my heart beating fast in my chest.

“Don’t you worry, no one is coming, no one will find us here. Go to sleep, sweet dreams”

I soon relaxed and the tiredness swept over me. Before I knew it I was fast asleep. Nick on the other hand was then kept awake for the next 10 minutes by my snoring. Oops!!!

To Be Continued…

-MooFace-

I’m Back – Farmer Tan Included

Hey there,

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I literally got back from sunny Ireland this morning…and came straight from the bus station to work. Grim! Even after a shower, I just can’t seem to shake the 8 hour coach journey off me. Double Grim!

My current plan of action is to head home, unpack (by unpack I mean to just throw my clothes in the general direction of the wash basket) and snuggle up in my pjs with a cheeky dominos takeaway. However I will be blogging mine and my fella’s Irish adventures over the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned and you’ll get to read about fisty cuffs, forest trails and tribulations, wild camping and you’ll find out whether we actually did it…did we complete the Wicklow Way?

Oh check out my left over manicure from the holiday…ha ha! B. E. A. UTIFUL right? Get this girl some nail polish remover…stat!

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Until next time you lovely people.

-MooFace-