Westport-Ballysadare (Sligo) 105km
When you think you’re lost, but you’re not really, are you lost? That is the burning question….. After passing through Castlebar, I headed up to Foxford, then decided to take the ‘scenic route’ to Tobercurry (lovely name). I hadn’t researched this at all, so didn’t know what to expect…..it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Basically I followed my nose, interrogated the odd local as I passed (they seemed remarkably uninformed)
along narrow farm roads that had ‘lawn’ growing along the middle (a clear indicator of remoteness). Following the folds of the Ox Mountains, the enthusiasm I had for the frequent descents was dampened by the infuriating consequences…..dozens of sharp climbs (damn it)….and this went on for 30km.
Amazingly (and I myself was truly amazed), I ended up where I intended. 10km from Sligo, I decided to call it a day, hot sticky and tired, when Henry (a retired Garda) passed on his bike with his 2 grandsons. When I enquired about a pitch for my tent, he said: “Sure, I know just the place for you. 3km further on, there’s a field by a river, and a pub (now closed) across the road…..well, it’s their field. They’re a retired couple. Knock on their door and just say Henry sent you”.
Which I did…..got a warm reception….no problem about camping. The horses weren’t in the field at the moment, but the grass was long….waiting for silage harvest.
So my tent was enveloped in long grass, I went to sleep with the sunset, and was doing my yoga stretches with the sunrise in the morning……and when I got to Strandhill for breakfast, on a spur out into the bay, the store owner plied me with free coffee and gave me extra bread with my bacon and egg. Needless to say, he was a fellow cyclist….and he spent a few minutes quizzing me about my bike
Moral: the unplanned can produce the best experiences in life…….and the hardest.