Day 131, Friday 12 May
A month of Irish miles. Thirty days since coming ashore at Rosslare. The rainy start this morning is not enough to dampen my spirits. Only three of the thirty have actually rained on me and only one of those was heavy enough to remember. A very different outlook for today’s ride but the Atlantic Way is still more mild than Wild. Damp Donegal is quite atmospheric. Not a breeze.
The ferry from Burtonport to Arranmore Island was gratis. Thanks to Dawn Marie of the Red Ferry, I didn’t even get to find out how much the ferry should have cost. Glassy, still waters around the many rocky inlets, islands and sandy coves. Jimmy (Cox’n) was waiting on the Arranmore slipway with the Station Landrover. Not to carry Fondo and rider, but to lead the way. “Follow me. There’s just a bit of a hill first.” Off we set at a modest pace. A sharp right, then the road kicked up a bit, away from the harbour around a left hander and up. Quite steep, low gear selected, another bend and the incline did not ease. Up on the pedals, pushing hard to catch the crawling Landrover. Another bend. Where’s the top of the climb? I’d set off much too vigorously from the bottom. Oh dear. Come on legs. “NO MORE” they screamed. Forward motion, an essential part of making progress, ceased. I had been beaten by my first Irish Hill. Within just a few hundred yards, we had gained what seemed … a few hundred yards altitude. Fondo & baggage had to be pushed around the next bend, until the incline eased just enough to get some momentum. The rest was a doddle. Half a mile of gentle ups & downs then back down to sea level at the Lifeboat Station. “We don’t have flat roads on the island. Just ups and downs” said the grinning cox’n. That’s probably why there are no bicycles to be seen on Arranmore. Except Fondo.
Many thanks to Jimmy, Tony (LOM), John (ast.Mech), and Séan (crew) for a great couple of hours of good humoured sharing of tales, from the famous rescue of the crew of the Stolwijk in December 1940 (click Here for the full acount), to the many superstitions of sailors and the occasional “sighting” to this day of Myrtle Maud, the daughter of the original Arranmore Lifeboat benefactor of the first Lifeboat to bear her name, still seen on the current Severn Class, now motionlesss on its not-so-swinging mooring. In fact, if you zoom in on today’s misty image, towards Myrtle Maud‘s stern …The view from my bedroom would be stunning on a clearer day. On this evening’s damp gloaming, it’s still pretty good. Many thanks to my hosts for tonight, Pat & Jerry Early, who also run Early’s Bar in the harbour, where I’m now heading to refuel and sample the local fayre. On foot. Fondo can stay tucked up in bed, in the shed, with peat.