Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Monday, 14 June 2010

Drumskinny to Rathlin

So the midges got me at the stone circle but at least the twit at Ballymagorry didn't.

Had stopped at the 'Tinnies' on the road out of Strabane, a group of very large metal sculptures of musicians, fallen asleep on the grass and talked with a local cyclist. I said that Northern Ireland was almost perfect but I couldn't find any cricket. 3 miles later a cricket ground in Ballymagorry and a tournament of young ladies playing cricket. With the 2nd test against Bangladesh on the tele in the club house I was in seventh heaven. Away from the idiot who dead eyed me over being a Villa Fan [you figure out why] the afternoon was fabulous with the team from Belfast, the one I was supporting losing every game very narrowly and excitingly. Had a long chat with their manager and everyone, well almost everyone, couldn't have been more friendly. A great club.

Went through Londonderry/Derry/ - City very quickly and camped on the edge of a long reedbed near the sea wall of lough Foyle. Didn't see another soul here and at elast the sea wall protected me from the strong northerlies. How long is this north dominated wind going to be with us. We're supposed to have a SW prevailing wind but not this year. Climate change? Good number, 73 bar-tailed godwits were the best birds here but at least another RSPB reserve had been visited.

8th June 2010

Rain and lots of it. It lasted all day and I indulgently relaxed in the company of a wonderful man, Paul, whose wife Majic, had gone to work. The previous evening I'd met these two brilliant people after they'd invited me to stay. They had heard me on BBC Ulster and phoned me up offering accommodation. Meeting them and sharing a meal, tales and ambitions, dreams and events, was a true highlight. Paul and Majic got married in Las Vegas, with Elvis attending and singing a few of his hits. This September they'll be returning to the US in order to participate in the Bonneville speed trials in a VW Beetle. Paul went last year but didn't drive. Team Ireland though did take part and missed the record by only a few Mph. Paul talked about his taking part in the Shasta Snow Trip '08 [ ] and the forthcoming 'wedding' reception. Majic loves elephants and they're planning to go next year to Kenya.

In the evening we sat and ate popcorn whilst watching a great film about Burt Monroe. IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW THROUGH YOUR DREAMS, YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE A VEGETABLE - A CABBAGE. Burt took an Indian Scout motorbike to Bonneville and broke 200mph. The story can be found on this link and is well worth reading.

Off to the Giant's Causeway next day 9th June 2010, via Bushmills [shame I don't drink whisky - World's Oldest distillery here] and just in time to see Prince Edward and Sophie leaving. This amazing place was very busy and after a walk down to the rocks, I took my lunch sitting on a particulary attractive hexagonal one. OK so there were 40,000 other ones that look almost the same.

After lunch walked around the whole of the World Heritage site. Immense cliffs and superb views with the whole arena making the causeway look quite small. Back to it though, now with fewer people and a couple of real rock doves [so I'll now count them on my year list - 203] flew around. A common seal came quite close, inquisitively and a lot of adult gannets were fishing here.

Right, who in their right mind would push a fully loaded bicycle 5 miles along the cliff edge, from the Giant's Causeway to Dunseverick and enjoy every minute of it? So what if there were large stiles and many steps up followed by many steps down. The whole push took a couple fo hours and the views are amazing. Fabulous cliffs with thousands of heath spotted and early purple orchids in the adjacent fields.

Cycled to the Carrick a Rede ropebridge and camped nearby. The end of yet another wonderful day.

Next the boat to Rathlin Island.

Question - should a tax be put on plastic bottles to pay someone to pick up the thousands thrown out of cars and now to be seen on any road side?

All the best everyone.


Wonderful, wonderful people and give my love to Hobbs!

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