Sunday 19th September 2021 - Rider Report
Report by Frances Whooley Riding Level 3 with Siobhan Wolf.
We rode from the farm-yard through the quiet county roads of East Cork. Our first section of off road was riding at the Coolguerisque bridge where we turned righthanded and followed along one side of the river with a steep incline on the other, into a lush grass field.
Following the route on the map we found an opening in the hedge to another series of grass fields where we got the opportunity for a lovely canter. We came upon a closed gate onto the road, which Siobhan kindly opened and closed again. We went downhill to the left and our next entrance gate was open on our right which took us along a grassy track, a bit above the river. After about 5 minutes of trotting, we came to a river crossing followed by a second river crossing. Thankfully, both our horses were happy to step into the flowing water. We entered a lovely mature wood and followed the track to a steep incline to find our exit out onto the lawn of Aston Grove – a lovely old Georgian house. We followed the path out through the entrance, and when we rounded the corner we came upon our checkpoint 2 with Megan.
When our 5 minutes rest was up, Megan unexpectedly produced a sheet of paper with details of a grid referencing section, which we then had to transfer onto our map. Having completed this exercise, we negotiated our way via these grid reference points into a Christmas tree plantation, noting some tickets along the way. We exited the farm once again, and on our way out, along a country boreen, we met a small excavator mending potholes. Our two steeds were not bothered by this, and we carried on gaily, only to find Barbara and her daughter at checkpoint 3 lurking around the corner. Consulting our map, we saw that we were to go under the motorway and along another quiet small road. Mindful of our allocated speed, we kept up a brisk trot along the quiet stretch while we admired the dairying countryside that surrounded us.
On our way past the local disused graveyard, we came upon a checkpoint which was not for our level, so after a brief chat, we carried on down into a valley. Crossing the river again – over a bridge this time – we climbed up the steep hill on the other side. Shortly after passing an entrance to a large farm-yard, we found the entry to the next off-road section, which was in the main gate of the farmers house – then left into another grass field. Checking our route bearing we crossed the field and found the track which took us down to the river and up the other side. It lead us to a disused farmhouse, and from there out onto another lane just not far from the roundabout for Junction 18 of the motorway. We then turned left, and it lead us down to the outskirts of Riverstown. Here we went under the motorway again and swung left-handed at the edge of a housing estate. We rode down a long avenue into a farmyard where we found our checkpoint 4, along with the farm family out to greet us.
Our maps were then confiscated by Etaine – the checkpoint steward – and put into sealed envelopes for us to carry with us while we negotiated the next section. Etaine then gave us a sheet with a list of bearings which we were to follow. Having taken the first bearing we struck off, counting our strides to the next change of direction. We found this part of the route was very interesting. We followed a track from the farmyard to a little old narrow stone bridge crossing the river, then following the bearings we found ourselves in a deciduous wood just as it started to rain. Luckily the leaves were still on the trees, and we got some shelter, though our bearings sheet got a bit soggy. We then had to drop into the river to cross it, following a dirt path under the motorway again. We carefully followed the bearing directions and counted our strides. After a short steep descent and another few twists and turns, we found that we were at the Rocky Road – which is a local walking path. We crossed over the wooden footbridge to find checkpoint 5, just up the road. We had a 10 minute break there, as another pair of riders had come in just in front of us. When the stewards Diana and Maria got a chance they gave us permission to open our maps again.
We took advantage of the wait at the checkpoint to locate our position on the map. We were then given the go ahead, to leave the checkpoint. We proceeded up hill on the final leg of the route – homeward bound. The return journey took us along undulating and peaceful country lanes, bringing us to checkpoint 6 near the graveyard, and into familiar territory as we recognised the road back to the venue. We returned to the final checkpoint to hand in our record card. We were incredibly happy to have come to the end of a wonderful day out on our trusty steeds Brandy and Paris.
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