Friday, August 16, 2013

A Circuit of Lough Leane Killarney

Sometimes I wonder why I do it, especially on the last few miles when even walking hurts not to mind the shuffle that I try to pass off as running when I am near the end of a long outing. Yesterday was a case in point. I had run a six kilometer trail race the evening before and for some reason I when I got up in the dreary wet morning I reckoned it would be a good idea to head back on the train to Killarney and try to run around Lough Leane. There are plans afoot to make a walking route around the lake but this is still some way off but recently a long section that was impassable due to the proliferation of Rhododendron has had an old track reopened so I reckoned it would be worth a look.
The first objective was to get out of town and after I had left my bag in the station I set off in the rain, dodging cars and people and made my way to the start of the "Fossa Way" near the cathedral. From here a fine path leaves the hustle and bustle behind and you are running across open parkland, which on a better day would offer superb views towards the mountains. Today in the mist they were hardly visible but I was still enjoying myself as I actually like running in the rain. The path passes by a couple of golf courses and as I neared Fossa I had to join the busy road. Perhaps its my poor route finding or poor signage but whatever the reason I couldn't find the resumption of the path and I ended up running on the road all the way until Tomies Wood. I now had eleven kilometers done and had kept up a nice pace of about 12kph. Once I entered the wood I stopped for a drink and a bite to eat and then continued on. The trail is now a little undulating with lovely views both left and right and it continued in this vein for another five kilometers with the last kilometer having a steady climb to about 200 mtrs. Eventually the trail turns back on itself and here a very unpromising track leads off towards wild territory that looks totally impassible with rhododendron. I wasn't over confident but to my delight there was a passage through the bushes that while not runnable was an enchanting place to be. It was tough going but I was really enjoying myself and even the by now torrential rain couldn't dampen my spirits. In places it was like travelling through a green mossy tunnel but all the leaves and debris on the floor meant that great caution had to be taken to avoid a slip. This continues for about two kilometers and after a long drop you reach the lake shore and some ruins of a large old building. Now the trail is a bit convoluted and eventually you emerge at Glena and the impassible "Long Range" river.

Now comes the worst section and over the next kilometer I had to cross wild and terribly wet ground where walking and making any progress was difficult. Walking at times in knee deep water at least meant that when I emerged onto better ground at "Brickeen Bridge" my runners were nice and clean (well you have to try and see the bright side). All that now remains is the nine kilometers back into Killarney. This I have run many times and it spectacular as it goes between Muckross Lake and Lough Leane and then on through the Muckross estate before finally reaching the busy road back to town. I was quite tired on this stretch but it passed and when I finally arrived in town I had a good bite to eat and it was great to be able to change my clothes etc. In total it had taken me three hours twenty five minutes but there are several kilometers where progress is slow. The total distance was 29 kilometers and its fair to say that I felt as if I had done a marathon. Waiting for the train I had a long sit down and I must have made an interesting sight as I struggled to unlock my seizing legs. As I said earlier I sometimes wonder why I put myself through this, but I suppose I get a sense of achievement and satisfaction when I'm done. Of course I do actually enjoy the running as well but its fair to say that towards the end of big runs like this one enjoyment isn't a word that springs to mind. Now though at this remove I am glad I did it and I have no doubt that I will probably do it again in the not too distant future. Perhaps doing it in a clockwise direction would be preferable as it gets the roughest section of ground out of the way earlier. When the new trail is done it will be a superb outing for runners and walkers alike.
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