By the beach at Louisburgh, Croagh Patrick behind us.
The 3rd of November saw us hitting a major milestone and a happy event, our 20th Wedding Anniversary. We had decided a while back to celebrate this with a nice breakfast, a scenic drive, a picnic and a candle lit steak supper. We knew we were taking a chance with the weather but we just amused ourselves with the possibility of having to that British thing, a picnic in the car by the side of the road with the wipers going occasionally to clear the rain off the windscreen. When the 2nd of November presented us with a vicious Westerly, a gale of wind and driving rain squalls we wondered whether the joke was about to become reality but no, the 3rd dawned bright, blue skies, warm sunshine and not a breath of wind. We were on!
The beach at Old Head
Breakfast was that family favourite, boiled eggs and toast soldiers, always improved by having your own, deep yellow yolked free range eggs. Then we were showering and preparing the picnic, again, family favourite "Hang Sangwidges" and various salads plus some chocolate cake for 'pud'. With the car loaded, dogs an' all, we headed off west to find some scenery. Castlebar we have been to dozens of times, especially while building the house, but we'd never been past Castlebar and on towards Westport and all the lovely mountains and coast of North Mayo.
The shore of Doo Lough.
As you approach Westport you can soon see the famous, cone-shaped 'Holy Mountain', Croagh Patrick, scene of many a pilgrim hike in the Summer, with an option to do it in bare feet if you are feeling particularly martyr-like. We are determined to do the climb soon, but not in bare feet. It is reckoned to take about 2 and a half hours to the summit, none of these Irish peaks are 'that tall' and "The Reek" is only 764 m. It is a tourist magnet, though, so we will try to avoid the known pilgrimage days.
From Westport we headed on West into ever smaller lanes, determined to reach 'Roonagh', the small port from which you catch the ferry out to Clare Island, famed in one of our favourite 'Sawdoctors' songs. We needed to let the dogs out for a comfort stop, so Liz found Old Head on the map, a small headland with a beach just east of Louisburgh. After Roonagh, we headed back to Louisburgh and then southwards into the mountains aiming for the gorgeous Doo Lough Pass and Doo Lough itself for our picnic.
Not everybody faced with a Lough in November in North County Mayo gets the urge to paddle, but I did and Liz grabbed the camera and took these pictures. The bed of the lough here is a lovely smooth scree of rounded, flat stones, perfect for skimming across the surface of the mirror-smooth water, so I could have gone barefoot, but I had my 'crocks' with me, so I kept those on. The dogs seemed to like the belly-deep (for them) wading, It wasn't that cold.
We swapped drivers at this point and I took over the maps to guide Liz down past the lough and on down to Killary Harbour (a 15 km inlet of the Atlantic), round the head of that to Leenaun and then south some more climbing over the minor road between the 'Devil's Mother' (mountain) and Ben Beg, grinding up the incline and dropping down a beautiful hairpin bend road and over a lovely bridge to Lough Nafooey. On to Lough Mask by which time we were a bit touristed out, so we were happy when Liz got onto some bigger roads, for the drive back eastwards through Ballinrobe, Claremorris picking up the N17 to near Knock airport and the lanes home. It had been a beautiful drive and a lovely, enjoyable day.
With all the livestock sorted we were able to crack the wine open and get our steak supper organised, whereupon the power died on us, so we would have had to eat by candle light even if we'd not planned to. Luckily we have a gas hob, so cooking was not a problem. We had a lovely evening chatting and reminiscing in the romantic ambience and, in fact, when the power was restored at 8 pm we chose to turn all the lights off anyway and carried on with just the candles. Cheers and here's to the next 20 years.
For its first six years, this blog was "written" by my Westie Pup, Deefer but now on reaching its 30,000th page-view she has passed the keyboard to me. It remains a light hearted look at the lives of our family, human and animals first in Faversham, Kent, then through our recent 'up sticks' move to County Roscommon, Republic of Ireland where we have gutted and rebuilt a farmhouse and are now starting a small holding.