The Irish Rover(The Dubliners)-The Hike of the Three Peaks - Castleisland to Annascaul,Ireland - 23rd July 2016

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July 23rd 2016
Published: July 28th 2016
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We think we know what the pattern of the weather in Ireland in summer is all about. You get grey overcast skies with low cloud first thing, and then it starts to brighten up with patches of blue appearing on the horizon, then a little bit of almost full sun and then the overcast returns. We reckon that is summer.

Yesterday the woman who cut Gretchen’s hair had talked about how lovely the weather was when it was distinctly overcast outside and a guy in an electronics store we had gone into near Tesco’s said the same thing.

We think that if you live here this might be all you can ever expect out of an Irish summer.

We can appreciate why my ancestors left Ireland for a new life and better weather in New Zealand plus they still had the rolling green hills to be amongst as they had in their homeland.

As part of our grocery supplies purchased yesterday we bought eggs, black pudding (Irish style the label says) and tomatos and this morning to go with the traditional muesli, fruit and yogurt we are going to have a fry up!

We were late having breakfast as we had nothing planned as yet for the day and we would see how the weather went before deciding on an outing. Being as late as we were we didn’t have to think about lunch except perhaps a piece of fruit to sustain us a little longer into the afternoon.

There was more time to try and catch up on the travel blog to within a day or two which we have not been able to overcome despite best endeavours. And time to sit down and read our kindle books during the day instead of falling asleep with them at bedtime.

Midday arrived and we thought we should do something a little active for the afternoon.

We had discovered a range of walks of various lengths which were recorded on quarto size cards with a diagram map of the path on one side and a description in text of where you go and what you would see on the trail on the other side.

We chose two for the afternoon. The first was at Annascaul, the birthplace of Tom Crean who had been one of Shackleton’s Antarctic exploration party.

The village is on the road to the Dingle peninsula where we had been before but the trip was rushed a little as we didn’t have long in the area.

The second walk was at the end of the peninsula and we would have the chance to walk in the footsteps of Robert Mitchum and Sarah Miles and other stars of the movie from the 1960’s, Ryan’s Daughter, a film about the times of troubles between the Irish and the occupying British military. Many of the outdoor scenes were shot in the area.

The road back to Tralee would take us to the Dingle peninsula and it was a pleasant drive along the coast and then over the low hills to Annascaul.

First though we had a short stop outside Den Joes fast food restaurant where we had our burgers for dinner on Thursday when we arrived.

We had noticed the internet inside worked very well and was free to use with no password required.

So we parked up opposite the takeaway on the narrow street and opened up our laptop and tablet and hey presto! we were in business. After indulging ourselves for half an hour we were on our way towards Tralee.

Tom Crean returned from his expedition and later in life opened a pub called ‘The South Pole’ and it is still in existence today and we parked across the road from it. Kathleen later told us that when Crean returned from the expedition he hadn’t been able to talk about where he had been or who he had been with as the expedition was of course British and there was no love lost on those locals who associated with anything British.

The Brackloon walk looked on paper to be a relatively easy 6km hike over road and mountain(we would call them hills in NZ)terrain and would take us 2 hours.

It all turned out to be a bit more than what it looked on the cardboard card!

The start was easy enough; a walk up from the village on what was the old butter road. These roads from the 19th century were generally straight and were used for getting the product from the hills of Kerry to the Butter Exchange in Cork city some 100km plus away.

We had covered about 2 ½ kms when the trails took us over a stile and into paddocks on the side of the hill and as hills usually mean one thing when you start at the bottom, it was an uphill climb ahead of us. Nothing like the Dolomites or other trails we have taken on the BBA V3 to date but still challenging as the ground was soft and you had to pick your way to the marker poles that guided us to the top of the hill.

We checked the map and we were starting to realise that we hadn’t gone that far and that we hadn’t taken into account that the walk we were on had a subtitle ‘The 3 peaks of Annascaul’.

It has been a while since we did a hike as strenuous and we were pleased to have reached the top of Knockfeehane at 300 metres above sea level to enjoy the wide vistas. On one side was the green fertile valley with the village and a sort of ‘hanging valley ‘away in the distance that looked like it might have been formed in the ice age. Had it been in an alpine area we would have expected to see a glacier there.

On the other side of us was Inch Strand, a long sandy beach that stretches three quarters of the way across the wide Dingle Bay allowing a bay to form within a bay.

Further out in Dingle Bay and close to the coastline the sun, which appeared from time to time as the gentle breeze cleared the clouds, made silvery shadows on the water.

It was a lovely scene to be enjoyed as we readied ourselves for the next leg to peak #2 which would take us through a boggy area we could make out from being above it.

The trail didn’t drop down too far before we hit the wet area and we had to carefully pick our way to avoid sinking into the soft turf.

It was a short climb to the second peak and then onto the third along a ridge all the while taking time to enjoy the magnificent scenery around us.

The third peak came and went and then we had the downhill section to the road which would take us back to the village.

The descent was roughly as steep as the climb up had been except we were starting to feel it in our knees and muscles. A round of chocolate gave us a sugar rush and helped as we picked our trail down until the trail became easier as it ran along the hillside but in a slowly descending way.

A mistake in the map reading meant we took the wrong road back to the village and we had covered a kilometre before we realised it and had to return to where we started on the main road and walk on to the road we should have taken.

By the time we reached the car we pretty exhausted and we reckon our 6km hike had been more like 10km when we took into account the wrong road we started to walk back to the village.

A Guinness at The South Pole pub looked tempting but we decided we would appreciate it even more when we got home.

As the hike had taken us 3 ½ hours instead of the intended 2 hours and we were feeling tired we gave the second walk idea away and returned home via Tralee.

The local crafted beers were nice and cold (we will save the Guinness cans for another night) and we had full appreciation of the local brew along with a hearty dinner of chicken satay and rice.

We have vowed that tomorrow will be a rest day!

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