More pondering than wandering29th March 2011
The last few months have been hectic at work and that has impeded any incursions into the outdoors during what has been a lengthy spell of settled weather. That isn’t to say that I haven’t been out at all. After all, I got away to Ireland over the weekend. In a change for me, I swapped my usual air destination of Dublin for the quieter one at Shannon near Limerick.
That was the cause of allowing me to revisit the city of Limerick after having not been there for quite a few years. It has its landmarks of medieval antiquity too with thoughts of seeing King John’s Castle on the banks of the Shannon in good if hazy sunshine being the cause of drawing me out on a trot between connecting bus services. For a place that was my county town for much of my life, it could come as a surprise to you that I had never gone and explored the walkways and parks that Limerick City Council has set in place along the banks of what is Ireland’s longest river before. Last weekend saw that set to rights but seeing the likes of Bunratty Castle and the village of Adare were reminders not of the unexplored but of places that I wouldn’t mind seeing again. The fact that they caught the sun really well as I passed nearly made me want to stop and stay a while but for the need to keep going.
It wasn’t all about enjoying delightful sights of man-made constructions because a trip into Limerick’s tourist information centre revealed some long-distance walking options too. In there, I spotted a guide to the Lough Derg Way along with those for the Mid-Clare Way and the East Clare Way. While I was in the heart of a city, these discoveries were reminders that wanderings in greener surroundings weren’t all that far away. It’s all very well savouring the more delightful parts of places like Limerick or, as I did at the start of February, Oxford, but losing yourself in empty open countryside, even for a short while, is unbeatable.
Turning those thoughts of more natural spaces a little wilder, I also recently happened on a leaflet extolling the virtues of Sleat as a base from which to explore Skye. Though it’s seen more of my attention than the hinterland of Limerick city, a few years have passed since I last ventured up there as part of a Hebridean adventure a few years back. With the frenetic pace of my working life nowadays, being able to find in a short amount of time a convenient base from which to fan out to sample more views like those of Skye’s Cuillin Hills sounds good to me. While I may have been cycling through the Cheshire countryside to and from work a lot over the last few weeks, it is starting to look as if planning a longer stretch away from the madness of modern life is opportune.
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