Rain in the Finglas River Valley, County Kerry – Courtesy Dave Byrnes
Back in mid-March, I received a mail with the same title as this post. It announced another Dave Byrnes adventure blog. Dave was my boss for a short time in Stamford, Connecticut, around 1999. He was a good boss, but not long after we worked together Dave returned to his native Australia to follow another calling – hiking, biking, and running adventures. We have stayed in touch, virtually.
When I first met Dave, I was starting to enjoy living close to the outdoors again after years dwelling in some of the world’s biggest cities. Part of the enjoyment was finding places to hike. One of my early conversations with Dave went something like this:
ROB: I walked on the Appalachian Trail at the weekend. It goes from Georgia to Maine. Have you heard of it?
DAVE: Yeah, about 12 years ago I hiked it.
I knew at that moment that Dave’s adventuring was out of my league.
When I received Dave’s mail, I replied that I’d be following his new adventure with interest, especially as a circuit of the nine counties of Ulster has been among my own hiking ideas. Several of my great-grandparents hailed from counties Cavan and Derry before they moved to Scotland. Dave invited me to join him on any sections I wished.
I seriously considered flying over for a week of Ulster hiking, but I had my recovering knee to consider. I imagined the indignity of crossing the Atlantic, tracking Dave down in, say, Cavan, and then heaving on my backpack only to develop excruciating knee-pain half a mile up some boggy trail. I opted to test my knee for backpacking nearer to home – Bigelow Range Backpack.
So, I have followed Dave via his diary. He has used the same format as on previous adventures (after which I pinched parts of it for my own hike posts). It’s a good format – an overview in note form, plus a detailed journal. There are photos and a GPS track. I have posted (with Dave’s permission) two of my favorite photos here. I like to think that the Sperrin Mountains in the picture below, which border County Derry/Londonderry might have been known by my McWilliams ancestors.
As I write, Dave is in Dundalk. He has been hiking for 84 days, covered 1,468 miles, and eaten a lot of Full Irish Breakfast. If you are interested in walking in Ireland, I can think of no better place to get familiar with what it has to offer than Dave’s blog.
Glenelly Valley, County Tyrone – Courtesy Dave Byrnes