Part Two of our incredible journey along the Beara Breifne Way. Be sure to check out Part One if you missed it: https://paulhogarth.com/a-beara-breifne-way-experience/
Day 5. Battles
Feeling rested, the boggy fields and suspicious cattle we encountered to start our day did little to dampen our spirits as we passed by the sites of historical camps and skirmishes, the remnants of these events still visible in the landscape provided us with further motivation to read the land as we pass. The route then led us up the Mauherslieve Mountain, where it is said that the 6 counties are visible from the pinnacle. The weather had different ideas for us when we reached the top, but we were able to content ourselves with the hypnotic sight and sound of the surrounding wind turbines and the desire to return during clearer skies.
As our day wound down, drama struck and we were suddenly facing our own battle… After locating the site of a Beare’ campsite, we found ourselves with the almost impossible task of climbing over a wire fence to reach it! It was my turn to giggle and watch as Nisha, adamant that this was in fact an electric fence, attempted to get over, under or around this obstacle. (Editor’s note: it was not an electric fence, sorry Nisha!)
Fresh air; Mauherslieve Mountain
Day 6. Up to our ankles
After narrowly escaping with our lives from potential electrocution (ahem), the next day was thankfully a more peaceful experience as we entered the low-lying peatland bog areas found throughout central Ireland. As we navigated our way along the raised pathways that criss-cross these peatland landscapes, we marvelled at the flat expanse of this environment, listening to wildlife, and picking out the different colours of the mosses underfoot.
Despite leaving the peatland bogs behind, our walking boots were put to the test with many of the country paths almost underwater at points. But we weren’t to be deterred, and we made our way up Mount Mary. Retracing the march as they, with numbers now significantly reduced from battle and other perils, sought out the few allies that existed in the area. As we walked, we encountered our own allies as we joined in many a conversation with the welcoming locals we passed on our way.
Tiptoeing; Scohoboy Bog
Day 7. End of the road
The Beara Breifne Way saved some of the most memorable experiences for the final stretch of our journey as we passed along the Miners Way. The misty views along the valley of the Bricklieve Mountains emphasised the haunting experience of this area, as one tomb after another appeared as we made our way up to the Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery.
Beyond the tombs, dramatic views unfolded over Lough Arrow and beyond – pointing the way towards the end of the march. Arriving in Leitrim, we were left to reflect upon our journey, the landscapes we passed through, and the people we met along the way.
Although the march of O’Sullivan Beare ended at Leitrim, the BBW carried us up towards the official end of the BBW walk in Blacklion, Co Cavan, providing us with dramatic views over Lough Allen and incredible colours of the Burren Woodland as we passed along.
Nature always finds a way; Burren Woods
As we sat down with a cuppa in the picturesque town of Blacklion, Nisha and I discussed our new perspective of the achievement of O’Sullivan Beare and his followers’ legendary march and how this epic event is still evident and resonates within the communities and landscapes we passed through. We experienced just a taste of how in 1603, harried by enemies, terrain and the elements, the journey was an epic demonstration of fortitude and connection to the natural world that we want to return and see more of.
We made it; Leitrim
For more information on the Beara Breifne Way walk: https://www.bearabreifneway.ie/
And remember to Leave No Trace: https://www.leavenotraceireland.org/