Ireland end to end: Aran islands to Westport

What a day. Only 47 miles but every single one of them into the teeth of a strong north wind. We both feel knackered tonight, and maybe even too tired to visit the celebrated Matt Molloys pub here in Westport.

An excellent ferry crossing brought us across to Rossaveel in Connemara from Innismore this morning and we were actually cycling by 9.15. And what a wonderful landscape it was to be cycling through. The distant Twelve Bens of Connemara looked sumptious in the early morning sun and closer at hand the Mam Turks looked much shapelier and more ridged than I remember from previous visits.

But there is something about this rolling, water splattered landscape that I find stimulating. Maybe its the accompanying song of the skylark, maybe its the scent of turf smoke when you pass a cottage, maybe it’s the big domed skies, or maybe it’s the hawthorn lined field margins. We’ve lost so many of our traditional hedgerows…

Fortunately today was’t a hilly ride but the wind really was ferocious. It’s like a silent enemy – you can’t see it, you can’t really hear it and you can’t smell it but it’s there, by God you know it’s there, pushing you back, cajoling you, fighting you and probably laughing at you to.

You either have a good ride or a windy ride – rarely both.

To add to our problems Hamish had a puncture, and it took us three inner tubes before it was fixed. I guess we both probably need to take lessons in fixing punctures. All this happened outside the pub at Leenaun, the pub where the film The Field, with Richard Harris, was filmed in 1989. Some old worthies took an interest in what we were up to but were soon bored with our pathetic efforts at trying to lever tyres off the wheel.

Eventually we got it fixed, filled the new tube and tyre with compressed air from one of these little cannisters you can buy (first time I’ve used one and I was really impressed)’ had a coffee in the pub and caught the dreadful news on the telly about UKIP electoral successes. At least that news should auger well for the Scottish Independence Referendum…

We only had 20-odd miles tomride to Westport this afternoon and we both enjoyed it, despite the wind. Good distant views of Croagh Patrick, and its seriously eroded footpath. The last time I was in Ireland Gina and I climbed this Holy Hill and I later mentioned to a lady in a Borde Failte office that the footpath to the summit is now so bad its becoming dangerous. She looked me in the eye and, in all seriousness, said, “But what do you expect? You climb Croagh Patrick as a penance after all…”

We found an excellent B/B in Westport then popped out for a pizza at Torrinos. Came back to write this blog and now we have to make the real serious decision of the day. Do we take an early night and rest our ould shattered bodies, or do we search out some music at Matt Mollys? I’ll tell you tomorrow what we decided.

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