Well after all the hype, the very generous donations and acquisition of the kilts it kinda had to be done and it is with genuine surprise that I sit here the next day and say the Domino Danderers and the Coleraine Bog Faeries managed to do the whole 26.22 miles of the Moyle way and not only did it but managed not to get rained on ONCE!
The day started bright and early around 6:30am with brekkie andI have to say some unfortunate laughter as sundry females felt it necessary to giggle and yes guffaw at the sight of me in a kilt.
The Yellow Bleeders should note the UKLUG polo shirt and the fine “READ MY BLOG” badge from BLUG (Thanks Theo!) that completed the ensemble. I thought I cut quite a “dashing” figure alas this was not a sentiment shared by Val whose comment was “OH MY GOD!” or it would have been if she had managed to stop giggling long enough to get the words out.
Anyway breakfast completed, Eileen appeared from the Guest Annex (My mother’s spare room) and we were ready for the off. Picking up Andy Clark , also be-kilted, in suburban Aghadowey we made for the start some 35 miles away in Glenariff on the Antrim Coast.
The Glens, as we passed through them, were covered in mist, but the skies were clearing and the sun was bravely shining in the odd bit of blue sky that dotted the horizon.
Reaching the start our brave support driver Val left us at the side of the road and there was nothing left but to start the walk. It has to be said at this point that Mr Clark had perhaps packed too much in his rucksack, so with the sage advice of Mr McDonagh and Ms Fitzgerald, both seasoned danderers, he reluctantly parted company with the Barbie and Ken figures he had packed for extra company. He was unable to explain why they were naked but the other team members did not pursue that point.
I have to add at this point the rather anti-kilt sentiments of the wall adornments at the start of the Moyle Way were quite frankly shocking in this day and age! As can be seen by myself and Mr Clark taking a stand (so to speak) against the parochial fascism of the trousered classes and their anti-kilt signage. We are nothing if not passionate wearers of the kilt, Mr Clark being as he is of Glaswegian birth. It is said that on a good day with the wind in the right direction his sporran still smells of the burger and hot dog vans that line the roadways of his birth within a snail’s fart of the Glasgow Rangers Football ground – then again it may be his “first” breakfast.
So it was without further ado we started the long ascent of Trostan (the hill at the top of Glenariff) at the start of the up hill bit there is a sign that would imply that you are entering a place of much joy and stress busting properties. Well that may be so for the non-danderer, however for the intrepid danderers for dosh this was just the first of 3 ascents so there was stress aplenty with the thought of the next 20 miles!
Glenariff is a wonderful place of moving water, waterfalls and ancient deciduous woodland and were it not for the fact we needed to get to Ballycastle it is well worth stopping and sucking in the natural beauty. Not so for the intrepid Danderers. Here you can see the bold Ms Fitzfgerald striding purposely up the stairs by the biggest of the waterfalls. What a trooper she is!
I should add at this time she had just said in her strong Corkonian accent “There is not way in God’s green earth I am following 2 men in kilts up steps that steep! I learnt that lesson following Big “Firm” Tony up hills in Canada and he was only wearing shorts!
At this point I have to mention kilts. I think I can heartily recommend kilts for the gentleman danderer. Both Mr Clark and I found the experience liberating , but greater care needs to be given to wind direction, nettles, thistles, all biting insects and the chaffing effect of having sweaty nether regions. Kilt Rash can become unpleasant after 20 miles but it does allow for a rather excellent impersonation of John Wayne in the later stages of a long walk.
Eileen had as always come prepared, her rucksack, part tardis, part outward bound shop, contained many many things including the ITIL protocol for lone females surround by men in Kilts and special “Ms Bono” wrap around sunglasses that had a special coating that darkened 0.35 secs before a gust of wind made her line of sight “distressing”. The photo on the left is of the pause for “3rd Breakfast” – yes we do take the business of being Hobbits VERY seriously
The effect of the these new and innovative sunglasses can be seen here. Just out of shot Andy Clark was giving us a rendition of the “Glasgow Hill Climbers Mountain Song” with actions and fancy foot work. Note how dark Eileen’s sunglasses have become when the wind got up!
These sunglasses are a must for all ladies of taste and refinement on the hills this season!
Trostan was duly conquered and I have to say at this time that the other two were very understanding of gammy leg which necessitated me stopping frequently to stretch the hernia on my shin back to where it should be and not where it was.
Down the other side of Trostan we plodded and managed to lose the path!. This was the only time we actually went “off piste” in the whole 26.22 miles and then only for about 200 yards of deep heather and boggy loveliness. Reaching the base of Slieveanorra we paused for dinner or perhaps 4th breakfast and then headed up the boggy sides of Slieveanorra.
About half way up we met some walkers coming down and I used the “Give me some money or I will dance the Gay Gordon” ploy and managed to get some more cash for the charity coffers! I can be a devious danderer when I put my mind to it.!
At the top we discovered Northern Ireland Mountain rescue. The thought of lots of fit strong and un-kilted men spurred Eileen up to the top but alas they were packing up and leaving 🙁
No walk is complete without a “Great Universal Catalogue” picture of Mr Clark and rightly so! So without further ado here you are
Over Slieveanorra and down into the Forest of Breen and along a rather lovely river valley to the bridge of “despair”. This is a lovely little bridge over the Glenshesk River which both Mr Clark and I had sat on before .. we both knew the last main ascent was ahead and that is was a really quite nasty bit of sheer bog, bramble and tree. So we had a bit of a sit down.
.. and a spot of afternoon tea. It is at this time important to point out that not arranging ones kilt and sitting on cold metal “anti-slip” grating is NOT Recommended particularly 18 miles into a walk!
We may have sat longer than we should, but grasping our walking poles firmly off we set and as per usual my leg caused some (many) pauses for yours truly. Eileen waited for me half way up and gave me some chocolate and extra water which was gratefully received. 🙂
Having eventually beaten that nasty climb we set off through the Forest of Breen and arrived at the final rest point before skirting the base of Knocklayde and getting to Ballycastle
It was around this time tbat everyone including Eileen pointed out that “yes our feet did hurt” and it was good we were within 5 miles of the pub.
The effects of 20 miles on legs, feet and nether regions where kicking in big time for myself and Andy. Much to the amusement of Ms Fitzgerald we were now dandering like those heros of Hollywood Westerns.
It is also worthy of note that we started to hallucinate at this point and the object of our desire was a pub, any pub, it didn’t matter the size, shape or tidyness, we just needed a pub.
Then after 10 hours and 6 minutes and 26.22 miles of dandering we entered the Harbour Bar in Ballycastle and we were DONE! Pints were ordered and sitting down was attempted amidst groans, creaks and fissiling of kilt material.
We had done it and we are PROUD!
Now to the Thank Yous. Thank you to Andy and Eileen who were, as always excellent companions and understanding of my frequent stops to rearrange my wonky leg. Thanks to our support driver the ever patient and understanding Val, who not only got us to the start but came and got us at the end.
Most of all an enormous
to all the people who donated cash to our Dandering Charity the Disaster Emergency Committee for Hunger in Africa. Currently the total stands at an amazing £1,375.00 which quite honestly is humbling ! When you consider that £0.25 can bring a child back from the brink of death your generosity is just wonderful. Eileen. Andy and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us in this way.. To borrow an expression from our American Chums “You Guys ROCK!”