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Monday, 31 October 2016

Our last Annascaul walk.

Today was the last day of the 10th Annual Annascaul Walking Festival so it was with a sense of sorrow that local and visiting walkers converged on Hanafins Bar for the final walk, a marked loop walk, around the upper perimeter of the village to Meelin  Hill with views of the bay and the surrounding area. Mary and I had decided that we wanted to do a slightly longer walk that would take us to the Annascaul Lake we had heard so much about. When most left for the local walk we headed out past the South Pole Inn and took the small country farm road towards the lake. The first few miles in the bright clear morning took us through a series of farms where we observed the local farmers tending to the needs of their animals. Life was busy for these people whilst the rest of us enjoyed our leisure pursuits on a Bank Holiday morning. There was a much cooler temperature to the morning with a feeling that Autumn had finally started but with the clear skies above, the visibility was excellent and walking conditions perfect. The hedgerows still had a sprinkling of colour with bright yellow flowers intertwining dark blues of blackberries, reds of  fuschia, as they all cling on before the cold of winter finish their display for another year. The famous Kerry hedgerows of fuschia which, from the Irish, is translated as " the tears of Christ " must be a truly spectacular sight and a reason, if a reason is needed, for Mary and I to make a return to this wonderful and magical place. After a few miles we came to a crossroads where we left Gurteen and started to climb up into the hills that would take us through Counduff and then the lake. The landscape was changing and the colours soon changed to the soft browns and purple of the heathers covering the surrounding hills. The scenery and beauty of nature was breathtaking with an almost religious atmosphere and reverence that was so silent and calming that you felt the sound of your own breathing would interrupt this peacefulness. When we passed through an agricultural gate we started the descent that would lead us to the lake. Rounding a bend on the path there was a real wow factor as the lake in all its sparkling beauty was revealed in front of us. What a place to sit on a rock drinking a cup of coffee being mesmerised by the calm lake with nature painting a replica of the mountains on the still water. Life doesn't get any better but all too soon it had to end so finally we grudgingly got up and started the long walk back leaving the beauty and peaceful countryside to its permanent inhabitants, the flocks of sheep grazing lazily on the heather covered slopes. Back at our beautiful cottage we vowed that we will soon return to this paradise of walking. We really have only scratched  the surface and there are hundreds of hikes and walks to be planned for as well as joining the local walkers on their Sunday morning walks from Hanafins Bar. Tonight we are heading down to the village to join the Halloween festivities. Drink will be taken.

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