I woke when the cold meds wore off, and could not go back to sleep. I decided to reserve the hostel in Enniskillen (my stop after Sligo), and then the train ticket for my partial jump to Sligo. I stayed in the hostel in Enniskillen during my trip in 2004, ideally located directly in-line towards the Giants’ Causeway and Belfast. While unsuccessfully trying to reserve the bed, I learned the IYH closed the hostel in Enniskillen in 2014, leaving a gap in my planned trek north and east. Some research and I adjusted my path to Donegal, then cutting back across to the same hostel planned after Enniskillen – solved.
No issues in purchasing the ticket on-line for myself and the bicycle. No issues picking up the ticket from the machine. No issues getting on the train. Loading my bike into the rack on the train I took a small chunk out of my thumb, but at least managed to not bleed completely over everything. Other than that, I spent an uneventful hour on the train to Castlerea, and covered 50 km. Somewhat depressing really, but the ride brought the distance to Sligo back inside of my comfort zone. Still felt like a long day of cycling; by the end I switched to a major highway to cut a few more kilometers off, and still took a nap after I arrived at the hostel.
I had lovely if cold weather today. I spent a while adjusting my layers to control for the headwind and 10 degree temperature without overheating, and stopping to eat presents challenges in controlling body temp, but I managed to find a good windbreak for lunch. Sunshine and white puffy clouds followed me the rest of the day, with the exception of a few light sprinkles just 3 km shy of Sligo. Really?
The changes in path should have adjusted my route back to where I hadn’t been before. When I took a slight detour to visit the ruin of Castle Ballymote two thoughts crossed my mind: “I’ve been here before”, and “I think this was closed last time too”. Grf.
The outskirts of Sligo presented the opportunity to visit a 17th century fortified manor house, but I passed. I had just climbed over the mountains to get to Sligo, and the weather threatened rain.
The Railway Hostel in Sligo shows on my GPS, but none of the hostel association maps. I had enough information to search for the hostel on-line and confirm via email that I had a place to stay. The owner welcomed me, and later in the evening provided a number of tips on places to visit and the path to Donegal. I had hoped to visit Parke’s Castle while in the area; one of the stairwells spirals in reverse because of the mostly left-handed family. One of my favorite castles in Ireland (indeed, I have a photo on my wall at home), but the castle closed for the season four days ago.
I met a woman at the hostel tonight who sold off her life, and brought herself and two daughters to Ireland for three months, and then six months in southern Europe, and then three more in Ireland. She homeschools her girls, and thought to provide them a different experience. Awesome. While discussing hostels and places to stay, I found a hostel between Donegal and my planned hostel after Donegal as a mid-point bailing plan – perfect.
I’m struggling with planning the end of the trip. I cycled to Westport specifically for a final train to Dublin, because the trip feels like the end, even with 10 days left. In some respects that’s true in the overall scheme of things, but 10 days can be an awesome vacation in Ireland, and bailing back to Dublin and managing the end of the trip from there seems like a waste. Travelling through Northern Ireland adds another country to learn, and another currency to exchange, and of course new things to see.
With cold and rainy weather, I continue to head north. At least I soon head east towards drier lands. So I’m moving on. I made the journey to Sligo with no issues, and I think I can do the same to Donegal. From there another two days brings me to the Giants’ Causeway in Northern Ireland, and another two to Belfast, leaving me three+ days in reserve for rain, Belfast, and to get to Dublin (either by train or bicycle), and resolve the great question of how I get the bicycle home.
Someone tonight suggested I sell my bicycle in Dublin instead of trying to get it home. I don’t think so.