One Day Walks August 13 thru 15

If you would like to join my guided walks next weekend, but not avail of the B&B and dinner choice, you can simply join our small group as a day walker. Here’s the programme.

Friday August 13 –

Meet at 10 am at the carpark in An Ceathrú Thaidhg for the 3 to 4 hr cliff-top loop. (€20)

And / or

Meet at 3 pm at the car park at Glenlara, on the north end of The Mullet, for the 2 to 2 1/2 hr Erris Head cliff-top loop. (€10)

Take part in both Friday walks for € 20 total.

Saturday August 14 –

Meet at Blacksod pier at 10 am for a boat trip out to and guided walk of Iniskea Island. Pier to pier, this will take 5 to 6 hours. (€ 40)

Sunday August 15 –

Meet at 10 am at Tobar Deirbhile (well) at Falmore at the southern tip of The Mullet peninsula, for a 4 hr loop walk, taking in Glosh, Caisleán beach and Aughleam. (€ 20)

For further details and to book your place, please call 086-8318748.

What To Bring When Hiking

So you’ve glanced through what to wear when out hiking in the wilds of west Mayo, below. But what do you need in your rucksack ?

1. Water – No matter what the weather, you’ll need water. Vary the amount, depending on the warmth, but don’t travel with less than 500 ml, while 1 litre would be better. You can always top up in the mountains, but be smart : the higher up the mountain stream you take water from, the cleaner it is going to be. Also, don’t take water from a still pool – it will have gathered peat dust and worse, while stagnant.

2. Food – Again, no matter how short a walk, do bring some food with you. You never know – you might have a problem (twisted ankle, etc.) up the side of a mountain. If you’re packing some chocolate, or energy bar, etc., go without the wrapper. That way, you won’t lose it in a gust of wind. Bring your food in a re-usable plastic container, with a sound tight lid.

3. Whistle – I never go anywhere without a good, loud whistle, in case of emergency. Wear it around your neck, so you have it in case you become separated from your rucksack.

4. Torch plus spare batteries – Nobody knows when the batteries in a torch are going to run out. Always pack spares and ensure they are dry, by wrapping them in a water-tight bag.

5. Mobile phone – The rule, when out in the hills, is certainly to turn your mobile phone off. But have it with you, in case of emergency. Put it in your pocket, not your bag, for the same reason as mentioned above.

6. First aid supplies – While it would be nice to carry a load of first aid stuff around with you, in practice, it’s really not that practical. But do have the 4 essentials – plasters, for cuts on rocks; elastic crepe bandage, for twisted ankles; Leukosilk tape, for keeping said bandage in place; Medicare cold pack, for treatment of swelling, bruising, etc.

And please remember, bring back home what you brought out with you. Do not leave even the slightest remnants of your passage. You know the Leave No Trace maxim :

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. With two exceptions. First, do take out rubbish that you did not leave there yourself. You’ll feel good about yourself and help the natural environment. Second, do try to watch out for rare flowers, where you’re stepping. Even footprints in the wrong place can damage.

Enjoy and just get out there !

What To Wear When Hiking

Here is some advice on what you should wear when hiking in the West of Ireland. Note that the main weather characteristics of this corner of the world are that we have a lot of rain, quite a bit of wind, not very hot temperatures and not very extreme conditions either (rarely below 0 Celsius, unless you’re climbing mountains in winter, where you’ll suffer wind chill factor, but rarely any snow worth talking about).

From the point of view of terrain, much of the far west of Ireland (especially west Mayo) is covered in blanket bog, with pools and puddles on the waterlogged ground, much of it hidden under sphagnum moss clumps. Apart from bog, we have (mostly) limestone rocks jutting from the ground all around, perhaps most famously in our scree covered mountain slopes, from about 400 – 500 m altitude up.

So, let’s go from the feet upwards.

1. Hiking boots – This is essential kit. Get ankle high, waterproof hiking boots. Buy a pair that is at least one half to one full size too big for you, so you can wear two pairs of good socks and feel nice, comfortable and secure within. I wear Meindl.

2. Hiking socks – Do not try to wear your regular socks, no matter how thick you might think they are. I have tried and continue to use a wide variety of hiking socks inside my boots. I have absolutely no preference between synthetic and wool, nor between twin- and single-layer. I use all the pairs I have interchangeably. The only criterion for me is that they are thick and comfortable. What I do is wear a relatively short inner pair and an outer pair that are as long as possible, so I can pull them up to my knees if feeling cold, or fold back down as required.

If you have a stronger opinion on socks, I’d love to hear it!

2 bis. Gaitors – Forget about them. I had a pair, but gave up wearing them. They just annoyed me. Mind you, others swear by them.

3. Waterproof pants – I use a pair with a membrane, from The North Face, called HyVent. The pants are 100% nylon on the outside and the inner mesh (membrane) is 100% polyester. They’re brilliant in rain and wind, but truly terrible in dry, warm weather when you’re hiking up a hill, because your thighs get ‘stuck’ with each step. I made that mistake just once. In good weather, I just wear a pair of O’Neill’s GAA tracksuit legs, in 50% polyester, 50% nylon.

4. T-shirts – Definitely do not choose cotton, or indeed polycotton. Why ? They take in your sweat and the rain and hold on to them jealously. Cotton takes much too long to dry out and leaves you cold and wet, especially when the wind strikes. Wear 100% nylon or 100% polyester tees. They dry out quickly. I wear a light Regatta or a heavier O’Neill’s GAA t-shirt, both in 100% polyester.

The trick is to bring more than one t-shirt, perhaps including one that has long sleeves, and to peel them off or put them back on, depending on conditions. Wear the long-sleeved one under the short-sleeved others, if you think you’re going to be cold. That way, you can peel off, without having to go bare chested as you do so.

5. Sleeveless Softshell – I wear a Regatta 100% polyester fleece-type soft shell. As opposed to the boots, earlier, this should be a snug fit, so that when zipped up, it really does give you warmth. It’s sleeveless, because it doesn’t restrict movement and you can always allow for this by bringing along a long-sleeved t-shirt or sports jersey. Personally, I never feel the cold on my arms, so this one is perfect.

6. Waterproof Jacket – Not quite as critical as the boots, but good to have. Getting wet on the chest and back is not as bad as in the feet, in my opinion. Anyway, I have a good 100% nylon outer, 100% polyester inner mesh (membrane) from O’Neill’s. It’s no Berghaus, The North Face or Regatta, but it’s good enough for me.

7. Hats and Gloves – Woolly hats are best for warmth, but they do get wet. Gloves should be able to keep a reasonable amount of water out, but they won’t manage that forever either. I always bring the woolly hat, but don’t bother with gloves unless it’s deep winter and I’m going above, say, 400 m.

In most conditions, I actually prefer a baseball cap. But I never go without a woolly in the rucksack.

8. Rucksack – Mine is a Eurohike, which I think is a brand of Millets outdoor shops, but I can’t find a website for that, so apologies. Anyway, the one I have is a Weekender 35 litre and its most important feature is the rain guard that you can pull over it if the weather gets wet. My advice : start your walk with a half empty rucksack, so it has space to take the layers, as you peel them off.

Your comments are welcome.

Get Out & About 2010

Together with Lough Lannagh Lodge holiday accommodation here in Castlebar, I am offering two days of lovely winter walking around west Mayo, for the weekend of January 15, 2010.

This is all about getting ready for a great 2010, letting the power of winter’s natural world blow away your 2009 cobwebs. This is about being exhilarated by nature and preparing for a new year.

Friday : Arrive in Lough Lannagh for dinner at 8 pm and an orientation presentation on what we will be doing over the weekend. A quiet drink in one of the town’s best pubs.

Saturday : Four hours gentle walking around Moore Hall, a ruined ‘big house’ and the adjoining Lough Carra, a gem among the many lakes of County Mayo. This is a wonderfully tranquil and serene place in the middle of the Plains of Mayo.

Sunday : Four hours walk on The Bangor Trail, surely Ireland’s most remote and isolated waymarked way. This trail brings us in to the very heart of rural, wet, wild and mountainous west Mayo. The place is a pure joy, perhaps even more so in winter, where we experience the trail in its full grandeur, battered by the North Atlantic weather, its wind and rain.

The weekend includes 2 x Bed and Breakfast in twin rooms (single supplement applies), 2 x dinners, 2 x packed lunches and a whole lot of outdoor fun. Drinks are not included.

Full use of Lough Lannagh’s gym, sauna and steam room are also included. A drying room is also freely available.

Itinerary : Just arrive at Castlebar by 8 pm on Friday, to enjoy the dinner. Departure is around 4 pm on Sunday.

What to bring : Raingear, to include waterproof jacket and waterproof ankle hiking boots. Changes of clothing. Lots of enthusiasm and a love for the outdoors.

Price : Euro 199 per person sharing, or Euro 219 single supplement.

Places are limited, so to reserve yours, please call me on 094 – 9027797, or 086 – 8318748, or e-mail me on info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.

Just come walking !

Great Weekend in Mayo

What a weekend’s weather we’ve just had in Mayo. We had a really nice group for our walks this weekend, with everybody in the kind of good mood you’ll get with beautiful weather and surroundings.

Take a look at some pictures below. Highlights of the weekend, from a fauna point of view, were around 6 Bottle Nosed Dolphins off the west side of Iniskea South, 9 Grey Seals in ‘Seal Cove’, a Kestrel at Sheskin and, without doubt the highlight for me, 2 Otters at Sheskin also.

I was crouching down on the forest track in Sheskin, looking at the Kestrel that had landed on a nearby conifer, when I heard a “glub, glub” sound coming from the very small, shallow and narrow ditch behind me. I waited for the sound to get just past me, then stood up and saw a beautiful adult otter moving along the ditch. I was able to witness him for a good 10 metres as he pottered along minding his own business, seeing what he could catch for an early dinner. Ten minutes later, another came along in the same direction.

 

Simple Steps to Sustainability 3

Over the summer months, I am attempting to give some really quite easy-to-implement steps that will improve the sustainability of your tourism activities, whether you are a provider, for example of accommodation, or a tourist.

For this third instalment, I’m going to look at :

1. Water

2. Detergents

3. Signage

Water –

By reducing the pressure at which your water travels around your property, you will save money and reduce water consumption. Think about it – you may not be able to limit the length of time guests spend in the shower, but you can reduce the water consumed each time.

Also, install ‘push down’ or PR-activated taps, wherever possible. Such taps bring to an end the problem of taps left running, which waste water.

If you don’t have dual-flush toilet cisterns, install them once feasible. If that can’t be done in the short term, place used 500 ml water bottles in the cistern, with stones in, to reduce the flush volume.

Detergents –

Ecover ecological cleaning products

Ecover ecological cleaning products

‘Ecological’ detergents, such as Ecover, contain fewer or no environmentally damaging phosphates than regular cleaning products. Irish brands include Lilly’s Eco Clean.

These products will certainly cost a little more than regular brands, but simply reduce the quantity employed each time to compensate.

 

 

Signage –

Nice signage made of wood, Poland

Nice signage made of wood, Poland

If you are responsible for erecting tourism information signs, please do consider the material you employ, as well as languages.

Wood, from a sustainably managed source, looks much more attractive than metal and blends into the environment better. Protect it from rain, especially here in Ireland.

Also, here in Ireland, do always use both our national languages – that too will help in the sustainability of Gaeilge.

Western Ocean Weekends

I’m delighted to announce our next three-day walking events in Mayo’s magnificent North West corner.

Saturday to Monday, July 18 to 20.

Friday to Sunday, August 14 to 16.

Iniskea South Island

Iniskea South Island

Day One combines 5 hours in the huge Sheskin Forest and bog complex, with a further 2 1/2 hours on a spectacular cliff-top walk along the Atlantic Coast.

Day Two brings us out to the uninhabited Iniskea Islands, 2 km out in the Atlantic.

Day Three brings us to the gentle hilltops, beaches and sand dunes of the remote Mullet Peninsula. Beautiful views in all directions.

Accommodation is in local guesthouses on The Mullet. The weekend includes 2 x B&B, 2 x dinner, 3 x packed lunches, full guiding throughout and the boat out to the island on Day Two.

As always, do come with good hiking boots (preferably waterproof) and wet gear. This is Mayo. Most of all, come with a love of the outdoors and its inhabitants that we will observe, but not disturb.

If you would like to join our small group for this Western Ocean Weekend, call us on 094 – 9027797, or e-mail info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.