Hello Pilgrim

After the driving lesson from the bowels of hell last night, I met a friend for some frosted beverages in a local inn. He commiserated at my tale of woe. Who knew that driving in the dark is so terrifying? I certainly didn’t.

While it wasn’t an especially late night, I was in a state of merriment by the time I hit the sack.

Not my most sensible decision. You see I had plans for today. I was going to county Wicklow, to visit the monastery and do a hill walk in Glendalough.

I felt slightly ropy as I boarded the bus at St Stephen’s Green. But the decision to go on this excursion had been made. I wanted to see the famous round tower and monastic settlement. It seemed an appropriate form of penance for yesterday evening’s excess.

Arriving at the visitor’s centre, I repaired to the snackbar, for a bag of chips. I’d need sustenance for the trek up the mountains, I thought.

The round tower dates from about 1000 years ago. The community was founded by some lad called Saint Kevin. He had this nifty trick of turning water into beer, and bones into pork. By praying. I ought to try that.

I’ve always loved the tower. It featured on the covers school copy books from decades ago. Every child in Ireland has seen this tower on a repeated basis as a result. The monastic settlement consisted of the tower, the ruins of an an old cathedral, and a graveyard. It was moderately interesting. More impressive was the surrounding countryside. The monastery is situated in a glacial valley in the Wicklow mountains. The mountains are covered with trees and there are various hiking routes.
We decided on the orange trail. This one was eight kilometres and was described as ‘moderate’. That seemed manageable.

And indeed it was moderate – once you had climbed the steep incline to the start of it. My body pleaded no. I persisted.

The walk was lovely. Very peaceful and quiet, with fantastic views of the valley and landscape.

Ahead of us was a group of five men. And their dog. That dog was in charge. Every few minutes he’d stop, scan his group, to make sure they were all still present, wag his tail and continue. He carried a big stick. To keep everyone on their best behaviour no doubt.

The circular route took us two hours to complete.

Arriving back to the visitors centre, we drank a steaming cup of coffee and returned to the the big smoke.

My legs will be tender tomorrow.

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