Walking in the West

We’re in the UK at the moment but last weekend I went for a walk in the West of Ireland and this is that story.

Map of the area

I have been saying YES rather than NO to walking lately. Maybe it’s because of the Camino. When Julie asked me and another friend, Molly, to join her on a some walks near her hometown of Swinford, I said YES. 

 

Somewhere beautiful on route to Pontoon…

 
Sure why wouldn’t I? Julie was going to be driving us, her sister Maire was cooking for us, her Dad was welcoming us into their house and I’d even have my own room (no worries about the snoring then? Breaking news: Molly could hear me snoring from her room.) 

 

The view from Pontoon Bridge

 
We (Julie, Molly and I) set off on the journey on Friday evening and Julie’s cousin, Mary, would be joining us on Saturday afternoon.

 

Molly on Inishcrone beach

 
Saturday morning early (kinda early 9.30 ish…) we drove to Pontoon. Like me, you may know Pontoon only as a card game but it’s a place near the town of Foxford. I don’t think we ever got to Pontoon. We were so taken by photogenic Pontoon Bridge there was no time to see the place. Instead we drove around Lough Conn, through Ballina and on to the magnificent beach at Inishcrone. 

 

waterproof walking boots are useful on a beach…. or you could be barefoot…

 
This is a truly beautiful place. The sun shone down on us making it necessary to say: Isn’t Ireland the most beautiful place in the world? It is. We walked until hunger sent us back to Ballina for lunch but we left Inishcrone reluctantly. 

 

sand dunes at Inishcrone

 
Julie had planned a different walk for the afternoon so we collected Mary and set off for Turlough and the Country Life Museum. We did a quick tour of the car park and found the Greenway path. The Greenway is a walking/cycling path through the countryside. We set off for Castlebar 7km away.

 

a sign…

 
The sun continued to shine on us as we passed through farmland, over magic bridges (Mary said they were…) and around paddling calves.

 

paddling calf

 
It was past 6pm when we got to Castlebar and although the plan had been to walk back to the car, someone (might have been me…) remembered that Maire (Julie’s sister) had offered to pick us up if we were too tired to walk back to Turlough. I was definitely too tired. Maire picked us up. Then she cooked our dinner. Dinner goes on very late in the West. I was feeling tired again.

 

sun shiny water

 
Sunday morning and a different walk around one of the Callow Loughs near Swinford. This time we passed ancient walls and old stone cottages and bog fields with sods of turf drying in the sun. Maire joined us on this walk but not before she put Sunday lunch in the oven. 

 

turf drying in the bog

 
By the time we sat down for that lunch on Sunday afternoon we had walked almost 30km and Maire had cooked for almost 30 people. They must make them strong in the West, I fell asleep on the way home in the car. 

Fortunately Julie was driving… Mairead.

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