Same old story, lost within the first 2km! Then lost again crossing a golf course. Indeed at one stage I was pushing my bike, on foot, through the most daunting mud bog in all of Christendom! Ireland is, I now state categorically, permanently “moist”.
Grey, misty drizzle today constant and so not really enjoyable on the bike. Oil on the legs seemed to help. The locals reassure me it’s a front passing through by “lunch”. I am at Kate’s Cottage Cafe by an open fire. It’s really a pub , the adjoining restaurant/cafeteria is in darkness. Kate is renowned in all of Ireland for her scones!
For the heterosexual male readers, “scones” is NOT an an Irish euphemism for anything other than the delightful warm ubiquitous baked damper!
Sadly I will never be able to confirm this, (that is that Kate’s scones are a taste sensation).
Trusting Paddy’s weather prediction, I decided to pull up a chair by the fire for a while to dry socks, shoes and my ragged damp route notes for the day’s ride. One has to be extremely careful with wet paper – limp and wet it disintegrates like the self destructing messages in “Mission Impossible”.
The drizzle abated and I set off having observed a fellow cyclist travelling in the opposite direction. He had a very heavy load on his BMX – 2 monstrous side panniers and an equally large back pack. No wonder he needed a quiet smoke before he set off down the mount.
The track today from the scone-less Kate’s Cafeteria, was awesome! Sure it was misty – it added to the charm and the drizzle did dry up! I cycled up a gentle incline for a few kilometers on a rather pot-holed narrow road meeting several horse and carts ( with Irish driver I hasten to add). It was isolated and gently undulating. Cold, cascading mountain streams with glistening black rocks and trees all covered in dewy moss and lichen. My peaceful and serene state in part due to the fact that there was absolutely no way I could get lost other than turning hard left into a mountain lake, precipitously right plunging down a ravine or turn up a path to a stone cottage, knee deep in cow shit!
Reaching the Gap of Dunloe, and passing a mountain lake, came a spell binding descent for a few kilometers into Black Valley. Not because of any speed, rather simply the evolving panorama as the track was narrow, potholed and twisted and turned into the valley below. On the way up and down, mountain streams were crossed by quaint ancient stone arch bridges.
One felt irritated and mildy peeved when the occasional car appeared as it was so unexpected and almost inappropriate. They had no right to be there. Paddy in his horse and cart, cyclists and bush walkers – it was our territory.
I was really taken aback when a small car stopped me as I was checking my route (it was an intersection) and 4 Irishmen asked the way to Killarney! They were sober. I laughed at the incongruity of a non Irish tourist, without a smidgen of navigation skills being accosted on remote isolated byway by a car load of lost locals. I told them there were only two options “that way to Kenmare the opposite to Killarney”!
I felt rather smug!
The route having taken me via the Gap of Dunloe, the second pass was at Moll’s Pass – I had ridden to this same mountain pass yesterday by a different approach – a main road. On both occasions I stopped for lunch and today rode like the wind down to Kenmare, my village for the next 2 days. Thank God for my rear view mirror.
I fear I am the only Australian tourist. The only other travelers have been American. It seems they come for one of two reasons – because of their Irish roots or groups of men to work their way around several golf courses.
Yesterday was overcast, cool and moist but no actual rain. An Irish couple at a cafe by the lake, establishing that I had come from Australia, asked me how much longer I was staying? A week I said and they were effusive in their thanks that I had brought “such lovely weather” and that they were happy in the knowledge that the the fine weather was to last “for another week”! They were genuine in their praise as I was in my surprise!
Tomorrow I explore the Beara Peninsula Loop, with 3 options of 50 km, 100km or 136km. Shall check weather forecast before committing.
In summary today was a great day on many levels, even allowing for the weather.