Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Walking in County Clare Ireland, Walking in France

I came across a website recently called Walking In France, which has a wealth of information on...walking in France!  The Australian couple that maintains the site and does the rambling seems to have the same type of philosophy towards backpacking and travel that my wife and I have (i.e. minimalist), so I will be returning to this website frequently for tips and ideas as I plan similar self-guided walks.  I think I recall reading on the site that the couple has walked about 6,600 kilometers and spent close to 300 nights in France while on entirely self-guided walking trips over the last 9 years.  I guess you learn a few things by trial and error when you do that!

A few of the initial pointers I gained from the Walking in France website were tips on deciding what to take (a flimsy plastic poncho instead of a Goretex jacket, for example - brilliant!), how far to walk per day, where to re-fill water, types of accommodation, and the phrase "you are not a tourist".  It has made me want to do a walk in France, and if I decide to go I'm sure I'll contact Jenny and Keith for further advice and suggestions.

Speaking of similar walks...I have mapped out a tentative plan for walking in County Clare, Ireland.  But, seeing as we are leaving in a month for a walking-friendly holiday in St. John's, Newfoundland, the Ireland trip will have to wait until 2012.  At least 4 friends are interested in going with us this time, which will make it fun but put more of an emphasis on advance preparations.

Green Road in the Burren
My tentative Ireland walking plan is to fly into the Shannon airport and arrange for the owner of a B&B in Broadford to pick us up and transport us to and from our hikes for the first 2 or 3 days.  During this time hopefully we will be able to see the villages of Killaloe and Mountshannon from walking the East Clare Way, while spending an evening or two in nearby Ennis to catch a mighty session at Brogan's Pub on a night when my favorite Clare musicians Quentin Cooper, Eoin O'Neill or Yvonne Casey are playing.  I hope we can also fit in a boat ride on Lough Derg or Doon Lake, courtesy of the B&B owners.  I like the idea of staying in one place the first 2 or 3 days to get acclimated before walking from village to village.  I love Clare and the whole Shannon area, but I have never seen the East Clare region near Lough Derg.  Tourists often overlook this portion of the County, but I am looking forward to visiting it!

After basing ourselves in Broadford for the first 3 nights, we will be dropped off in Corofin so that we can walk the entire Burren Way: Corofin to Ballyvaughan, Ballyvaughan to Doolin, and Doolin to Lahinch, backpacking with all our gear during this section.  These should be doable walks of approx. 12 to 15 miles per day.  We will probably stay in B&B's and hostels rather than camp.  We may plan for multiple nights in both Doolin and Lahinch to fully enjoy those lovely villages.  (While in Doolin maybe we'll catch a session with master tenor banjoist Kevin Griffin or fiddler James Cullinan).  Hopefully we can also work out a side trip and/or overnight on the Aran Islands.  (I have not been to the Aran Islands on my 4 previous trips to Ireland).

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