By Eddie Smyth
Today I changed back to being a lone rider following a route plan of my own making as I set off for County Wicklow for an overnight stop in a Mountain View retreat before meeting up with the ferry that brought me here to take me back to the UK.
Friday. Killarney to Glenmacnass (200+ miles)
The weather looked a bit iffy at first but the early morning rain had gone by the time I loaded my bike with the bags and set off for the petrol station to fill up for the 200 mile run to Glenmacnass. I had several options open for this trip. I played with the idea of checking out Waterford but decided against it due to the risk of a change in the weather as it would have meant many extra miles to suffer if the heavens did decide to open again. I avoided the quicker, major motorway route and instead pipped for the ride through Mallow, Kilkenny and lots of rural stuff with only a couple of short sprints on motorways. The motorway conduits proved very useful in that they performed like mini quantum leaps to get from one rural dimension to another thus avoiding sprawling townships.
After a couple of hours I needed a coffee, and perhaps a sticky bun of some sort, but I had not seen even a roadside snack van let alone a café and I began to get a bit eager for something, anything, worth stopping at. In Kildorerry I hoped to see a greasy spoon tucked between a pharmacy and a solicitor’s office; it looked like that sort of place, but I had to double take when my eye was distracted from road to roadside as a thatched cottage, wedged between two none descript buildings triggered my braking fingers.
It looked like something that had been transported from Cornwall, just for the day. It did not fit in with anything around it. The Thyme and Thatch café.
I parked up, removed the GPS from its pouch and strolled through the door. It’s a wonderful little place and the food being prepared and laid in the display cabinet looked very appetising too. The coffee tasted good and the Rock cake, once smothered with butter and jam equalled the all-round pleasure of this lovely stop off place.
My odometer had reset itself to zero after 999 miles was passed and the mental reminder, that my bike needs refuelling before 200 miles was now lost. As I smiled and hummed to myself on this very enjoyable remote road I suddenly realised I was clocking over 200 miles since my last fill up. My bike only does 180 in normal conditions and I now realised that with 25 km to go, I may be seeing a fuel warning light at any moment. ‘How many miles is 25km?’ I scolded myself for ignoring the last petrol station. This is not good. I could run out of fuel at any moment and there’s not a soul about etc. I will be eaten by the fabled Fear Gorta or abducted by the Sluagh, my bike will rust as it waits for another millennium for the next vehicle to pass along this route.
I tried to enjoy the vista and calculated that I should be OK, there are no mythical creatures roaming this part of Ireland during April, but the last few miles were a little nervy nonetheless. As it happened, the fuel warning light came on just two miles short of Glendalough where I knew (by checking google earth months before) there was fuel to be had.
I stopped in Glendalough visitors centre for a leg stretch and gander as the clouds gathered to spit rain on this already verdant landscape. I had a bowl of soup in the café on the junction in the village and took the short hop up the road to Glenmacnass and the guest house for the night.Shay, the proprietor was very welcoming and my room even more so. My bike had a small problem, where the indicator on the rear had snapped from its mounting and my wedge it tight in a gap was only ever going to be a short term fix. I was afforded the dry space in the garage replete with the right tools to fix what was left of the bracket back onto the bike and within minutes, the job was a good un. The bike could also stay in the lock up for the night. Relief for me even if the bike didn’t care. In the evening I had the good fortune to befriend a lovely couple who stayed in the room next time mine. They were from Budapest and they kindly invited me to dine with them at the local pub, back down in Glendalough. During the meal I introduced them to Irish whiskey, now I am an expert on such matters, which they enjoyed immensely, and not only did they reap some benefit from my travels during the past week, seeing as they are about to drive the same route but in the opposite direction, I learned many good things about travelling in Hungary. The list of places to visit is never ending.
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