Beth and I started the Wicklow Way in the pouring rain. We were dropped off in Marlay Park, south of Dublin, for five days of walking in the Wicklow Mountains. Unlike the Kerry and Dingle Ways, we knew we are not going to do the whole trail.
The trail entered the forest. Or should I say two trails entered the forest- ours and the Dublin Mountains Way (DMW).
Both are marked with the familiar yellow walking man. I had my raincoat, rain cover, hat and gloves and was so grateful that the trail was so good and well-marked.
At some point, I entered a fairy land. I heard voices from above and I’m not a spiritual person at all. The trail was under a zip line and climbing course. Could you imagine being able to walk under a zip line course in the U.S.?
I figured where there’s a bunch of people and commercial activity, there must be toilets and a snack bar. I was right on both counts.
But where was Beth? Why wasn’t she enjoying a cup of tea in this awful weather? Could she be that far ahead?
I continued to follow the markers and noticed that the signs said DMW. I was on the wrong trail. Somewhere, who knows where, the two trails split. I missed that sign in the rain and mist. Where the heck was I? And was Beth waiting for me somewhere in the rain?
I went back to the zip line area and found someone who knew about trails in this area.
“You’re on the wrong trail,” he confirmed. “Where do you want to go?”
“Away from Dublin,” was the best I could come up with. My walking instructions were soaked by now.
“Well,” the guy said, ” the simplest way is to turn left on the road ahead and walk three miles and you’ll meet the Wicklow Way.”
“Three miles?” Everyone talks in kilometers but this guy insisted on miles.
So I started on the road, sticking my thumb out without any success. Where were all those friendly Irish? Then I realized what I looked like. I was covered up with only my eyes and legs uncovered. Who knew what lurked under all that clothing?
I took off my hood and hat and made sure that my gray hair was fully visible. The next car on the road stopped and picked me up. He took me to a point where the trail went into the woods. He wanted to take me all the way to our B&B. It was tempting, given the weather but I had no clue where Beth was.
If Beth was behind me, she would catch up. If she was in front, I wouldn’t catch up with her. Again, I hoped she wasn’t waiting for me.
The rain let up a little and I was able to take a couple of pictures. The sides of the trail were covered in heather. Where the coastal trail had heather along with many other flowers, here we have fields and fields of heather. Whole hillsides are painted purple.
So the moral of the story is – you’re not in the wilderness here and the Irish will pick you up. And Beth was ahead of me.