On our first day hiking the Causeway Coast Way I kind of bagged on road hiking. There’s the traffic to contend with plus it’s very hard on the soles of the feet – they feel almost bruised after walking just one day with a full pack. We’ll be hiking over 100 miles on the Dingle Way with 45% roads. Yikes. Today specifically, was described as mostly road and boreen (narrow country roads) and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but after the boggy mess we faced yesterday, give me a boreen every time! Although we still bogged down multiple times, we made much better time averaging 20-minute miles. Boreen tend to be older gravel roads that are lightly used if at all. They’re a bit harder on the feet than trail or grass, but not much.
We heard it rain buckets all last night so were grateful to start the hike in moderate rain. Given the total rainfall over the past few days we knew it was only a matter of time before reaching an impasse and sure enough, our feet were soaked through within 30 minutes. Still, we moved quickly and enjoyed the brief dry windy periods that dried our clothes and warmed us up nicely.
The worst weather of the day led to a minor, umm, detour? No…loop-de-loop is a better description. So we actually had a dry period to cook hot noodles and coffee for lunch – delish – but wrapped up quickly as the rain started to fall.
We were cold from the brief stop so snugged our gear tight against the wind and rain, and set out quickly to generate body heat. The brisk pace was our undoing! Well, our haste and poor signage. The Way had been very well marked to this point, but we missed a key signpost partially hidden in brush. At a vee in the road we saw a Kerry Way marker to the right, so veered right, completely missing our little hiker guy marker on the left.
We ended up hiking up, over, down, and right back to our lunch spot! Criminently!! We regrouped, sighed, and trudged up the hill a second time. Our “oops” only added about ¾ mile to the day, so not too bad, and soon forgotten once we crested the final rise to Annascaul and were rewarded with a mountain lake, quilted landscape, and town nestled in the valley below – magnificent! I loved inching our way down, allowing oodles of time to soak it all in.
The very very very best gift of the day is our B&B, The Old Anchor Inn. It has all the amenities I treasure (soap, shampoo, hair dryer, and a hot pot) but two extras that are key for bedraggled hikers: 1) our host offered up “the boiler room” for our soaked shoes, and 2) our room has a radiant heater – brilliant for drying clothes.
To top it off, there was a copy of Ryan’s Daughter in the common room; it was filmed on the Dingle peninsula and we’re watching it in our room right now. Sweet!
Tonight we’ll visit the South Pole Inn, a pub opened by Tom Crean in the 1920s. We first learned of Tom Crean’s daring Antarctic expeditions in the Kerry County Museum in Tralee. I’m excited to see memorabilia…and to open the secret cupboard to the right of the fireplace (referenced in our guidebook). What could be inside??