The sea-fog that had been hanging over the south west for days was thinning slightly Sunday morning, and there was a faint glimmer of a disc up in the sky giving hope that the fog would actually lift during the day.
The plan was for everyone to meet at 11am at Billy Wolfe’s in Stouke. Only five riders would start and Jo would be joining them at Pat’s. Two of our young riders, Megan and Fionnuala, had decided to hack over to Billy’s from the north side of Ballydehob, so the two girls met up at 10.15am and proceeded from there to the rendezvous point.
With Sara there to see them all off, Adèle, Bastian, Margaret, Fionnuala and Megan set off on their journey, walking down through the fields of Billy’s farm to the Greenmount Road. A few hundred yards later, they turned off Greenmount Road and went up the “Mass Track”. This little off-road track cuts across John O’Mahony’s land and comes out on a small quiet road just below the Catholic Church in Ballydehob. The riders would like to thank John for cutting overhanging branches and briars along the track for them, as it made the track a real pleasure to ride.
Continuing northwards through Ballydehob, the riders crossed the Main Street, went past the Protestant Church and continued on the Church Road for 500m before turning onto the Letter Road, heading towards the north east side of Mount Gabriel. About halfway, the riders turned up left to go over the Letter pass, an off-road track that goes over the pass and joins the road from Derryconnell at the foot of the mountain on the south side.
Jill & Sara drove out from Schull to meet the riders at the bottom of the Letter Pass track and get a few photos. The fog was indeed lifting, and there was the occasional glimpse of blue sky. The riders then headed back in towards Schull, passing the Schull Resevoir, and turning left down Cooradarrigan.
Time for a welcome break! The cavalcade arrived at Pat Connor’s house for refreshments. Pat, Jo, John and Brendan were ready for us, and there was tea, coffee, water, apple tart, biscuits, crackers, cake, and apples on offer, with plenty of juicy grass and a few apples for the horses too.
Jo joined the group here for the return leg to Billy’s, as did dogs Sam and Toast. The six riders departed for Coosheen, via Cadigan’s Strand. Fionnuala took Chester in a little deeper than the others, but despite Megan following closely behind Apachi, Mazy just wouldn’t go in to the “strange moving water”. The sun was breaking through the fog quite a bit by this time, and gazing out to sea you could see the top of Cape Clear rising up out of the fog.
Leaving the beach behind, it was only a short distance to the Schull entrance of the Butter Road. Here the riders had a chance to have a lovely canter along the grassy track. Stopping to cross a small road, and the second section of the Butter road track stretched out ahead of them, down into the dip and up the other side, where Jill was waiting to get some more photos. Leaving Jill at the cross, riders continued on the tarmaced section of the Butter Road back towards Stouke.
Jill drove over to Stouke via the main road to get ahead of the riders. Jo’s dog Toast was the first to arrive at Billy’s, running down the lane ahead of the riders, where May was getting read to put out a pot of tea, a jug of cold water and slices of her delicious brack for everyone (thank you May). The two girls decided not to stay for refreshments as they still had to hack home, coming back for a brief moment very shortly afterwards to return Sam to Adèle, since he had trotted off down the lane following the horses as he always does. After hosing down their horses and putting them away, the riders, Billy and Jill joined May for a chat and the tea before saying farewell and going their separate ways.
West Cork TREC would like to take this opportunity to thank Billy for letting us use his farm yet again for our outings around the Ballydehob and Schull area. He is always very supportive of our events, and a helpful and knowledgable friend and ally, having grown up with horses in the yard all the time in his late father’s stud.
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