Lockdown 2 – Exploring Closer to Home. The East Clare Way

As of last Wednesday, Ireland was placed into level 5 lockdown, with some of the toughest restrictions in Europe. Shops closing and hairdressers not being able to operate is not too much of an issue for me, but the restriction on the distance that one can travel to exercise his me harder.
The restrictions have been on the cards for a while and so I’d taken the opportunity over the last couple of weekend to get out and walk the Black Head Loop on the Burren in a couple of parts (Part 1 and Part 2). But for the next six weeks, I’ll be exploring walks and rides closer to home.

The Gortacullin Bog National Heritage Area – looks better than it sounds…

In our previous house, the Mid-Clare Way ran within 400m of us. Since we moved last summer, we’re now closer to the East-Clare Way, a 180km loop around the eastern part of the county, taking in the western shores of the mighty Lough Derg, the county’s highest peaks, and miles of the minor roads that I’m often getting lost on.
I fancy walking one of these long-distance paths to get to know our new county better but only have one previous experience of anything similar. Back at home in Leicestershire, I once made an ill-fated attempt to walk the Leicestershire Round over a weekend, wild-camping along the way (by Sunday lunchtime, we were sick of muddy footpaths across ploughed fields and so took a direct route home. The experience was never mentioned again.).

Massive amounts of tree-felling has been done recently at Glenmore Upper

And so instead, I’m trying to work out a way to walk the path in sections (current thinking is to drive out and leave my bike at the end point. Then I can drive back to a start point and walk back to the bike. The other alternative is to make each section into a circular route. That means a better walk but that on each occasion, a shorter distance of the trail will be covered.

The initial climb – here’s the Strava segment https://www.strava.com/segments/8672866

Monday was a Bank Holiday here and so I made a start on the nearest section to us; one that loops across a forested area of high ground and so closing the circle into a decent walk was a little more straight forward.

The highest point in Clare and another point on this same route – Moylussa

The climb up to Gortacullin ran parallel to the always popular 12 O’Clock Hills trails and despite the restrictions on the numbers of people that can exercise together, I heard a noisy group chattering their way up the hill through the trees.

The 12 O’Clock Hills
A Todd Hido inspired landscape shot.

I’ve written in previous posts about my difficulties with taking pictures of landscapes, but am now learning to just enjoy them for what they are; pretty views and reminders of the walk.
You’ll also realise if you’re even an occasional visitor to this blog, that my normal form is to use black and white film, rather than the colour digital used in the pictures above. On this walk I took both.

I’d been reminded the night before my outing that I’d agreed to contribute some pictures to an analogue photography group project about ‘Autumn’. The deadline was the next day; the walk would be my only opportunity to take part.

So I took along a roll of Ilford HP5+ and a Holga. For the uninitiated, a Holga is an all-plastic (including the very basic lens) camera that uses 120 film and was produced in China in massive quantities (subsidised by the government there who wanted to encourage the people to use up film before switching to digital). It has no controls and the results are usually more about luck than judgement. I have two of these cameras and every time I use either of them, the lump of foam that the film rubs against to keep it tight falls out. It then gets stuck to the film and gets stuck between the backing paper and film. You’ll see one of the pictures below has a light leak caused by the lump. I got off lightly this time in that only one picture was ruined. And yes, I’ve tried gluing it back in with all sorts of adhesives and yet the things always detaches…

Anyway, I had a great walk in fantastic weather (for the most part) and beautiful scenery. Being close to home meant that I had walked 18km, 24,000 steps and was still home at lunchtime to spend the afternoon with the family. I spent that time boring them with how lucky I felt to live where we do…

Grand.

Gubbins:
Colour pictures were taken on a Leica M (typ262) with a 35mm Summicron-M lens. The black and white snaps were taken with a Holga 120N on Ilford HP5+ that I processed in Ilford DD-X and scanned at home.

One comment

  1. Thats a hell of walk! Nicely done and beautiful images. I can almost feel the air and the wet path after the rain in colour photos and b&w images are from a different world to me. The monochrome esthetic just adds that eeriness and mood to them. Great series.

    Liked by 1 person

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