Let’s get the clichés out of the way first. It was the best of days and it was the worst of days; it was a game of two halves; Rosie was as sick as a parrot …. that’s enough for now, you’ll see where this is going shortly.
Last day and the sun was shining! The air was clear and the views were magnificent and it was hard to believe that it was still February. We had been staying in Clifden and I drove Rosie and Rebecca to where the walk had ended yesterday and then drove back to Clifden with the intention of walking towards them and meeting half way. We would then finish the walk together. Good plan? Actually, it turned out to be a rotten plan because (remember) this was a game of two halves. For my part, I got on the railway track in Clifden and headed off into the wilderness without a care in the world. Along the way I was confronted with brilliant views and my journey was accompanied by bird-song, the sweet smell of turf burning and the tinkling waters of bogland rivers. I searched for Daniel O’Donnell on my iPod and the day got even better when I remembered I had no songs of his to cheer me on my way.
Along the way I passed an isolated reminder that people have had a foothold in this environment, albeit a precarious one.
Now, remember where Rosie and Rebecca were whilst I was wandering through the landscape? They were in the small village of Ballynahinch which had originally been the last stop on the Galway to Clifden Line. It boasts a very large hotel with some really interesting historical connections and so, naturally, the ladies called in for morning coffee. They were met at the door with the typically Irish welcome “We’re closed, come in!”
Coffee break over they then set off for what promised to be a brilliant day’s walking into the Connemara wilderness. The railway station has been renovated and is now a private house and the route finding seemed really easy – you just followed the line of the old platform .
…and, sure enough the track just enfolded before you. The writer of the guide book was forgiven for his lies of yesterday and all that had to be done was meet up with the old man halfway to Clifden – job done!
Well, not quite! But then, what’s a bit of danger after the exploits of yesterday?
What would you do? Seek an easier option? Ford the stream under the bridge? Give up?
They probably took the wrong option which was to plough on regardless.
Several hours later they finally emerged from the jungle swamp to meet the track once more. Meanwhile, having no idea of the problems the ladies had faced I had gone well past the rendezvous point and was getting a bit fed up because every step forward meant a longer journey back! So I was faced with the prospect of ploughing into the forest to rescue them or turning round and starting my homeward journey. It was a no-brainer. I turned round!
It must have been galling for them both to have come through The Darien Gap and still have miles of bogland track to plodge through. Oh yes, I forgot to add that whilst they had been floundering in the jungle the sun had packed up for the day.
But, eventually, the track improved, the mud got less clingy and the wilderness was defeated. A final mile or two into Clifden and a long day, and a long journey, came to an end. Galway to Clifden finished, and in the greater sphere of things Rosie completed her cross-Ireland walk. It had started on St Patrick’s Day 2011 and in ended close to the Atlantic Ocean just before dusk on February 24th 2012. Job done! Well, nearly done – we had to walk the few yards to the nearest pub and toast our success – and believe me, this was a success very hard earned. So hard earned they got the band out for us.