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Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Doorah Range Walk

Today Mary and I met up with a group of about fifty walkers outside Hanafins bar in Annascaul for the start of the second of four walks in the Festival of Walking. Today's walk was described in the brochure as a moderate rated walk that would go over three modest peaks forming the Doorah Range which stands on the edge of Dingle Bay. I don't know who does the grading for hill walks but if that walk was " moderate " then I'm bloody glad I haven't been subjected to a rating of difficult or even strenuous proportions. We started at the stunningly beautiful Minard beach where the ocean has thrown up rocks that are now arranged as an effective storm break which protects the small country road and surrounding countryside from the anger and violence of the winter seas. Above us and overlooking the sandy beach was the ruin of the building where Tom Crean signed up to join the British navy which was the starting point for his future heroic adventures. A small country road guided our merry group toward the start of the climb that would eventually see us at the summit of Acres which would be our highest climb of the three peaks making up the Doorah Range. As we made our jolly way in the bright morning sunshine I was surprised to come across a sign displaying the Kerry Camino along with a yellow arrow and scallop shell. It seems I can never get away from this symbolism and my life is now intrinsically entwined with all things Camino. The country was awash with colour and looked like an artists landscape overlooked by a bright cloudless sky. Things were going too well but this all changed when we made a right turn off the road and started climbing the hills using the sheep tracks as paths. The colour of the landscape had changed from the bright green of fields sectioned of with brown hedges that gave a quilt affect to a sea of brownish purple heathers that were just starting to show yellow, white and red flowers, that shone like precious stones in the bright sunlight. Underfoot the going was tough as we stumbled through the prickly heather being ever vigilant not to trip on stones or holes in the soft black peaty soil always concentrating on the path and not allowing our minds to wander on the beautiful sights of hills, cliffs, sea and sky that were unfurling all around us. This was hard going and you could hear the loud beating of your heart synchronised with the aches of your legs as you pushed through the sponge undergrowth towards the summit towering vertically above. Two hours of climbing took us to the summit of today's highest peak where we enjoyed the best cup of coffee, ever, and a slice of fruit bread. Lying on the heather, drinking and eating, was a time to reflect and take in the beauty of creation and surely this has to be one of the most beautiful scenes in the world. All too soon our rest was over and the return to Annascaul was as pleasant a walk as you could ever imagine and in stark contrast to the earlier climbing. Walking along the ridge of Doorah we could see the small trawling boats down below in the sparkling waters of Dingle Bay and overshadowed by the grey almost mystical mountains whilst to our left the beautiful green landscape unfolding like an artists painting. The walk ended back at Hanafins Bar where we were treated to soup and sandwiches and where miracleously the aches and pains disappeared in the company of good friends.

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