Sometimes Plan B is better than Plan A ever would have been. This just might have been one of those occasions.
After a really pleasant Saturday spent at Lough Boora Parklands, I definitely wanted to get more out of the long Easter weekend. The engine part we needed for the camper van was still stuck in the UK, and so it was easy enough to convince the husband to come out for another day.
Perhaps Lough Boora left me feeling cocky, but driving home Saturday evening we discussed what we might do on Easter Monday, and we both decided that we’d like to go somewhere that was a little more testing. A bit more of a challenge, but not so much that I was daunted at the prospect.
Arderin was possibly a little ambitious, and I knew I wouldn’t manage to do it as quickly as many of the reviews claimed on the Mountain Views website. I’ve had similar experiences with time-estimates for the summit of Lachtnafrankee when I went up there for a geocache a few years ago…20mins up and down from the parking lay-by… yeah, right! However, Arderin was local, a county highpoint for both Offaly and Laois, and from Googling it every which way I could Arderin looked achievable as long as I told myself that it was OK to take my time.
And it probably would have been. As we drove up through the forestry to the nearest parking spot, we both gasped with delight, upon driving around a corner and seeing a beautiful frozen waterfall ahead of us, twinkling in the morning light, filtering through the trees. Of course I was so fixated by its beauty (the photo really DOESN’T do it justice!) that I didn’t consider just how cold it had to be, for a waterfall, in a forest, to be almost completely frozen…
It was a balmy 7°C, with a light breeze, when we left home (less than 9 miles away). Arriving in the car park, the car thermometer stated it was now –2°C, and getting out of the car we were met by a fairly strong, constant breeze, with a chill factor well into the minuses. We layered up, we even layered Millie the dog up (I’d learnt my lesson on bringing middle-aged JRTs up mountains!) and then I went to suss out the path from the car park down to the gully…which was most conspicuous by its absence. I could clearly see the path up to the summit from the other side of the gully below…but I couldn’t see any path from where I was in the car park, down to the gully. (Further research online that evening showed me that there apparently is a reasonable path down, if we’d gone 100 yards up the road)
Now I understand that some scrambling is occasionally required, and that not everywhere has a flat path for access. But at the moment I only have a pair of walking shoes. They’re good ones; if I hadn’t bought them in a factory outlet, they might have been considered reasonably expensive ones (I googled them!), but they are still shoes and offer no ankle support. One of the many lessons I learnt on the Devils Bit was that scrambling up and/or down rough ground needs ankle support, and that these walking shoes weren’t particularly suitable for that kind of jaunt.
I looked down the gully, at the lack of path, at my walking shoes and I started to have second thoughts. Millie was looking miserable already and we hadn’t even left the car park. My cheeks were almost numb with cold and the husband just had THAT LOOK about him. All you ladies with long-suffering husbands, you’ll know exactly the LOOK I’m referring to! This is meant to be fun, and this wasn’t going to be fun. I really did want to ‘bag’ the summit of Arderin, but ultimately I wanted to enjoy the experience. More importantly I wanted all of us to enjoy the experience. But today, in these conditions, knowing that my meagre fitness level was going to make it hard work anyway, this wasn’t going to be fun. I couldn’t see a fun element to this at all.
But I absolutely did not want to go home! And the (former) Venture Scout in me always likes to be prepared, usually grossly over-prepared (you should see what I make the husband carry in his Lowe Alpine daypack – just in case!), and so I dragged out a few printouts of alternative walks that I’d hastily shoved in the glove box – and in the warm shelter of the car, we decided to form Plan B…
[to be continued…]
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