Apologies for lack of blog last week but it was a bit mental with the 9th annual Gaelforce West Adventure race. With over 1600 competitors it was a busy week setting up for it and lead to a lot of late nights and early mornings. It is exciting at the same time but also means that everything else gets left behind for a little while as it takes over.
Knowing this was going to happen I had booked myself a couple of days holiday after the race and the initial plan was to head up to Ballycastle and kayak across to Scotland and then around the mull of Kintyre for a day and back again. Unfortunately like all the best laid plans it fell to pieces when confronted with Northerly gales over the weekend. This forced a radical rethink as I needed to take my new Kayak in its inaugural expedition and the sea was off limits. Therefore we went for the backup plan which came to using a moment of inspiration, why not paddle down the Shannon!
We set of early Sunday morning for the northern reaches of Lough Allen and eventually found our way to Corry strand a little beach on the shore. Our cunning plan was that the northerly's would blow us down the lakes/ rivers of the midlands. Coming down Lough Allen was one of those magical days where it all goes well, new very fast boat, perfect downwind conditions, good company. We managed to average over 6mph on the way down and then max out at 10mph which isn't bad for a first spin in the boats. It was a bit of a shock when we hit the canal and we were brought back to reality.
It was a interesting trip as I had never been down the Irish waterways before and was an eye opener to the amount of infrastructure that they have here. We commented that there is more marina space on the Shannon than on the entire coastline of Ireland. We stopped off and had some deserted islands to ourselves and also stopped off in old Athlone town and Clonmacnoise. All the people we meet were extremely friendly especially the Carrick-on-Shannon rowing club who let us sleep inside and the very friendly farmers who invited us to camp on their islands. While the kayaking isn't as wild and exciting as sea paddling it does have its own special little beauty. We finished up in Shannon Bridge after a very relaxing three days well refreshed and ready to get back to work.