After the past few days of damp, drizzly weather, I was hoping we were due for a fine day for my hike in The Burren, which I had previously arranged with Mary Howard of Burren Guided Walks.
But it was not to be! I awoke to heavy overcast sky, mist and rain. The plan was to meet with Mary at Fanore at 10, so ever-hopeful, I left Ennis in plenty of time. Stopped at Ennistimon along the way to pick up some lunch supplies and received a text from Mary suggesting we delay our start until 11 in the hope of clearing weather. So I spent a little time in the car at Fanore beach looking out over the white-capped ocean and wishfully wondering if that really was a break in the sky, or just my imagination.
By the time I met up with Mary at 11, the rain had ceased but still threatened. She told me the other 4 people who had booked for the day had cancelled when they saw the weather. Luckily for me, Mary was still happy to proceed, so clad in wet weather gear we set off and spent an amazing 6 hours wandering over the Burren.
The Burren is a limestone karst landscape covering around 250 square kilometeres in the north of county Clare. It is known for the range of vegetation which flourishes in the micro-climate provided by the unique rock formations.
Mary was very knowledgeable and informative regarding the geology, archaeology, agriculture and botany of the region. The wildflowers were beautiful, but the strong winds made photographing them almost impossible.
We climbed gradually to Cahir dun Eirghius, an ancient ringfort, at which time the weather changed for the worse, with fierce winds and sleety rain, the mist obscuring the horizon completely. After discussing the options, we decided to continue and made our way up a series of natural terraces to the summit. The wind made the going difficult and I was grateful for the stout hazel stick and the gloves supplied by Mary.
|Cathair dun Eirghius|
At the top we were rewarded by the much hoped-for break in the weather and clearing skies. Although still a little hazy, the view was magnificent, stretching from Ballyvaughan all the way across Galway Bay to Galway, the Aran Islands and right around to the Cliffs of Moher, as well as looking down on the Burren landscape.
A short stop for lunch in the shelter of the cairn built on the top, then off again for the descent down through Poul Brainan. This is a large sheltered grassy basin forming a natural amphitheatre, probably created long ago when an underground cavern system collapsed. The area is criss-crossed by ancient stone walls which outline the settlements of people long ago.
Climbing again out of this basin, the remainder of our walk followed farm tracks back to our starting point, arriving around 5pm after a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile day.