Well that’s my Camino countdown well and truly started..
I have just returned from a weekend away in Co Tipperary meeting some Camino friends. We took in the “Leafy Loop” trail while we were together. It is a 22km circular trail in Durrow, Co Laois and makes its way through woods and along the River Eskina. It has everything, from climbs to drops, long winding trails and with the recent rains, it was pretty slippy. It is marked as being “moderate” …just what I was looking for. Nothing too strenuous!
I met Jimmy and Christine first of all last year coming into Santo Domingo. It was a brutal day and we were all eager to get to the albergue after been beaten by heavy winds and rain. The mud on our shoes weighing us down wasn’t helpful either. How fitting that our first trek together before our respective Caminos would be in the wind and the rain!! Both Jimmy and Christine are walking from Burgos to Santiago in May, the very same time I will be walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Belorado. They are a little more prepared than I am, having walked a number of trails over the last few months. This was my first outing, if you exclude the St Patrick’s Day Harbour 2 Harbour walk. Unfortunately, walking along paths doesn’t count..no matter how much I want it to be!!
I arrived down to Tipperary on Friday and after a filling Spanish-themed dinner plus plenty of vino tinto, we watched a dvd that I brought down called “The Camino: My Journey”. I have watched this at least 10 times and still use any excuse to switch it on. It is more of a guide to the Camino in general, talking about each major town, in a very light hearted way. The words “blister” and bed bugs” are not mentioned once, but I don’t mind. You can get some information on http://www.thecamino.com. After the dvd, we traded albergue recommendations and tips. talked about people we had met last May and possible future treks before we head off in a few months.
The next day, we were up at 8am and after a healthy fry up, we drove 15km to Durrow in Co Laois. I brought my backpack along so I could get used to wearing it again. I also noticed I had gotten larger, as the straps needed to be re-adjusted. Dammit! Anyway..I hope the 250km or so in May will get rid of a few of those pounds.
The trail starts on the ground of Castle Durrow and makes it way long the banks of the River Eskina. It is very well sign posted as you can see in the photos below. The trail then winds through Dunmore Woods which has large beech trees giving plenty of shelter from the rains. The weather took a turn for the worse as the day progressed and it wasn’t long before I had the rain gear on. I didn’t mind as it was a great chance to try it on. The trail is relatively flat save for one section which rises 100m over 5kms. Not quite like the Pyrenees but it got the blood pumping.
The recent storm, however, has fallen a number of trees in the woods and many have fallen on the trail. It proved to be difficult to get around but where there is a will, there is a way. I hope these will be cleaned up and replaced over time. Otherwise, the trail is very well maintained and litter free. We finished up after 5hrs, wet and cold, but glad to have it completed. I reckon this trail would be perfect during the summer months. The ground will be harder to walk on and there would be a little more colour to the area.
I mentioned to Christine as we were leaving “Now, there is no need to pass through Galicia, you have seen it today”. We didn’t meet any other fellow walkers today, which will not be the case in Galicia!
We drove back to Thurles and after a bite to eat, we watched another dvd and decided to do a walk along the western coast around the end of April. I will write up about that afterwards.