I’ve come to love an Irish breakfast: eggs, thick and meaty bacon, small delicious sasuages the size of my pinkie finger, grilled tomato, and thick brown Irish soda bread. Yvonne, the owner of Coolakay House and our host for the night, explained to us that her husband and several generations of his family were born on this farm. Her mother-in-law bakes the Irish brown soda bread for breakfast each day, and it was by far the best soda bread we’ve yet enjoyed. Their 19th century farmhouse is home to not only the B&B, but is also a working farm with sheep and cattle in the fields.
Well-fueled, we were ready to go when Kevin picked us up and dropped us off at the start of today’s 19km walk.
The Wicklow Way is well-marked, but the detailed route description provided by Wonderful Ireland walking tours is priceless. We walked through pine forests which opened to amazing views of the Glencree Valley, Sugar Loaf mountain, and even the Irish Sea in the distance.
We walked the final three kilometers to the Wicklow Way Lodge, our B&B for the evening, on increasingly narrow country lanes that were lined on each side with stone walls overgrown with ivy and holly. As we crossed the River Avonmore on a stone bridge built in 1828, we saw an Irish family throwing sticks into the river for their Lab to fetch. As usual in Ireland, we struck up a conversation and learned that the wife had played basketball for the Irish national team and traveled to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. Her daughter plays Gaelic football, sort of a cross between soccer and rugby and hugely popular in Ireland. Her team has been invited to play in Boston next year, and we chatted about travel, sports, and Irish connections around the world.
We kept our fingers crossed all day that it wouldn’t rain while we were hiking, and we were actually rewarded with bright sunshine as we finished our walk at the beautiful B&B.
Our room is lovely, with wooden floors, a cathedral ceiling, and floor-to-ceiling windows that seem to attract the family’s chickens. It’s a comfortable spot to put up our feet and relax after 5 hours walking, and to rejuvenate before tomorrow’s walk as we head into Glendalough.