Causeway Coast Challenge Part the third-sort of

The best laid plans certainly go to waste. We surely learned that today, come to think of it we learned a few new things too. The plan for today’s walk was the third and final stage of out causeway coast challenge. The planned route was from Ballycarton Forest-where we finished the second stage (pretty obvious I hear some of you say). This was an A to B walk so we needed a car at each end. Surprisingly with minus at least two of our regular walkers there were still more than we expected-not often that happens.
So we took the 2 cars over to the finishing point, we were about a mile up the road when we realised that we needed two cars at the finish to bring the numbers back again but one of the other drivers did not have his phone on and the only other person who’s number we knew, did not bring his phone with him.

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At one point of the walk we diverted into the forest, our leader said that if we crossed a stream it would mean we could avoid having to climb a few fences, and be easier. The stream crossing was followed by a steep climb.

If only we knew what lay ahead of us…

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After a tricky descent we came to another stream, deeper and faster flowing than the previous one. This one looked very tricky/dangerous in crossing and had a very steep and awkward climb on the other side. Only one of us managed to cross. The rest of us after some discussion decided it was too risky. We decided to make our way back to the road-we managed to contact our missing member (James) and decided we would meet up the road a bit. Funny thing was, on our way back to the road we never had to cross the first stream again.
This diversion meant we were running behind time, and we had an idea that we would not make it to our planned final destination. Now this is the strange bit. For some reason we did not park the cars at our planned final destination-we actually parked them 3 or 4 miles from the planned finish.
This was our longest road walk ever-and when in the boots that is not good.
Despite this the weather was magnificent and the views over the sea were great. We had a much welcomed lunch up at the viewing point at Gortmore, beneath the statue of Mananná Mac Lir, the Celtic God of the sea.

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We took a shortcut through Downhill forrest. We saw a great waterfall, and I am ashamed to say that this is the first time I have seen it. I have seen pictures of it, and wondered where it was. I have cycled/drove past the road down to it many times-but this was the first time I was actually down at it.
We also saw a house that had four or five pheasants on its roof. This is something we don’t normally see. Being the cynic that I am, I think the owner of the house was rearing the birds for hunters or something.
Despite missing some great off road viewing spots all in it was a good walk. We WILL do this again, the proper way-and with certain missing members too.

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Did not get that many pictures this time folks- but they’ll be on flickr soon-by for now


Urris in the….sun…..and rain….and sun

After a few delays we finally made it over to the Urris hills in Donegal. This is one of our favourites, what, with the lakes,the beach,the sea,the vista and so on and so on.
The day started sunny and pretty mild, some members removed a layer or two. We started our ramble on the road to the beach. The bottoms of the mountains seem to be splattered with newly built houses –and some newly unfinished houses. Due to our endless nattering about the whole congeniality about walking in groups we missed a turn off and almost walked into someone’s front garden. Now if we were loners and on our own that would never have happened.
After strolling along the beach we quickly came to our first off road track up to the much loved heights. As we got higher it got a little bit nippy so some people put on a once removed layer.

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It was great looking down on the beach as we got higher up, and taking in the advantage of seeing a view from a height.
We could see over to the lighthouse at Fannad Head in the distance (recently somebody was taking photos on a very stormy day and was blown into the sea, the poor man died) and then behind us we could see Bulben (now not Ben Bulben, it is in Sligo) , and put it on our list of next walks. I used to work with a guy called Brian Bulben, but that’s another story.
We have been up here in all sorts of weather. The lake seems to be the favourite spot for our lunch break here. Once we were here and it was frozen solid. Of course 2 of us were scouting around for big rocks to try to crack the ice with-ruined a couple of photos seeing pictures of the ice covered mass of water with several big rocks scattered over it. But today it was just a lake. It was pretty misty on the horizon over by Fanand.We noticed other people on the high ground on the other side of the lake.
After the lunch stop it got rather overcast and we could feel a few raindrops. One member of the group said that the rain would not be on for long. Now this is the same person who once commented on how dry and firm it was underfoot, and within a few steps we were in very wet and soft marshland. But today he was right.

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We met a solitary walker with a big pair of binoculars who asked us if we met a bunch of ramblers. Not nice when you get separated from a group and left on you own-I should know that. He then asked us if we knew where the aircraft crash site was.
Now, in 1941 a Wellington W5653 crashed up on these very hills. Friday 11th April 1941 (Good Friday I believe). To cut a long story short, it was very foggy and the plane was somewhat lost , it was heading back to the newly built airfield at Limavady. The crew mistook Lough Swilly for the Foyle. The unsuspecting crew,not all familiar with the local terrain,flew directly into the Urris Hill at a height of 1200 feet,killing all six crew members instantly.With the Urris Hills rising at 1300 feet above the Swilly,the plane was a mere 100 feet from safety.The six crew members were all very young men , the youngest was 19 and the oldest 25. There is a cross at the site and still some parts of the plane (sorry folks no photo this time).
The sad thing is, there are a few other sites like this on various hills in our area.
All in we had great weather for today’s ramble-the rain held off and we had a reasonable climb,saw a nice wee beach, and generally had that feel good buzz you get up high looking down on the world below you –and had a fair bit of space to yourself.

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No walk next week, as I am Liverpool bound-and will hopefully be doing a new stage of my “Quest For The Holy Grail-AKA Jenni’s Book.” I also hope to be meeting up with someone in Donegal who has suggested the two of us doing a ramble at Glenveagh or up Errigal. I think she’ll push me over the edge at the top of Errigal , so I’ll stick with Glenveagh, with the lake there-at least I can swim.

more photos on the facebook page and also on flickr-go into flickr and do a search on gerdybaby you should be able to see them all there.