It was a bit of a “trek” getting the kayak with its “wheels” over 1 fence, another gate, a farm lane, a small wooded area, then down to the small inlet at the side of “Castle Carra”. The weather was good with sun, some clouds and a light breeze. I made good progress once I launched and explored a lot of the small islands, that were close to the shore.
It is believed a lot of them are “crannogs” (man- made islands) from Neolithic period, that were used for defense. They often had stone pathways leading to them underwater in a zig-zag fashion. I am told that in very good visibility, it is still possible to see the remains of posts from causeways between some of the “crannogs”. I believe there is a very good example of this on the Port Royal side.
The limestone dissolved in the water creates a neutral PH and acts as a preservative. In 1843 locals discovered a 40 foot oak neolithic canoe in deep water near Castle Island. They brought it to shallow waters, where unfortunately it started to decay. A 1987 archaeological survey noted, that its size had drastically reduced. There does not seem to be any presence of it now, which is a great shame !!!
I took some photos of cattle and sheep grazing near the waters edge. If you had to come back as a farmyard animal this must be one of the better places. It was very peaceful and calming !!!
There was a good example of the layered effect of the limestone rock on the shoreline. After this there was a long stretch of reed beds, with a passage way made by the local anglers. The water was really shallow and very clear.
I stopped for lunch in a small shallow inlet, which had a couple of small boats anchored there . The golden sand and shallow water with a “crannog” and shoreline beyond made a striking picture. In the sunshine, it really had a tropical “bounty bar” feel !!!
After more meandering I made my way into the bay leading down to “Moore Hall”. There was a wonderful wooden boathouse which really appealed to my romantic nature. I think I could live here !!!
I stopped at “Moore Hall” which has a number of boats moored there. It is also a launching site with ample car parking space and road access. There is a white square house on the shore, which is a good reference point.
The “Moore Hall” building was destroyed during the “war of independence”, but it must have been an imposing presence, as the facade is still quite striking today. The Moore family were well regarded by the local populace and considered good landlords who tried to help during the great potato famines.
George Henry Moore backed his horse “Coranna” to win the 1846 Chester Cup. He used his share of the winnings £9.000 to join forces with Robert Blosse of “Partry House” and the Marquis of Sligo, to bring 4.0000 tons of flour by boat from New Orleans to Westport, to help those in need.
It was getting quite late and after another short break I headed back. I stopped at one of the two “Castle islands” in the little bay. There is very little left of the Castle which only has one small section standing. George Augustus Moore the writer is believed to be buried here.
It was getting quite late and I decided to make my way slowly back. I had kept the coastline on my left, remembered a few local land marks, how difficult could it be ?
My advice for anybody doing this is to constantly check your map. There are a lot of islands / “crannogs” out there and when you face the other direction everything looks different. The landscape is really flat and heavily treed, so there are no real obvious markers. Some of the bays are a 1 km or so and also heavily reeded. It`s not like you are going to die but it`s very frustrating, especially if you get disorientated and end up a dead end.
However I did discover this wonderful old boathouse converted into a home. There was nobody present but I don’t think they would have let me in anyway. I was drenched from my exertions and had also plunged up to my knees in old mucky silt, as I tried to look over reeds to get my bearings.
I retraced my steps and somehow ended back at “Moore hall”. It was time to get the map out. I debated abandoning the kayak there and phoning the B&B, as the sun was low on the horizon but decided to give it one last go !!! It was now 9.30pm so I phoned the B&B in case they were getting concerned. I got no answer but felt relieved in case they were looking for me.
After a lot of “frights” was I found the right path, I finally spied a section of reeds with a channel through it. The only thing that confirmed it for me was an unusual “rolling hill beyond”. I was a long way away, but at least it was “muscle power” now. I could see the sun dipping alarmingly on the horizon and put everything into my effort now.
When it went dark it would be pitch dark here. There would be no streetlights to guide me. Finally I could see a faint outline in the distance. It would be a race to get back to “Castle Carra” before the light faded. I had not realized , that I had kayaked so far !!!
It was very gloomy when my phone rang. It was the B&B returning a missed call. They thought I had come back and gone out again. As I was very close to my launching site I figured I would be back in ½ an hour.
I must have shipped a lot of water at the back of the kayak, as I seemed to be making very slow progress. Finally though, I got there. It was a bit of a scramble to get everything packed, wheels on the kayak then the uphill struggle through bramble, fences gates etc. The only thing that kept me going at 10.50 pm on a Sunday was the chance of getting a few pints in.
It was 11.15 am when I passed “Corley`s” pub which is very close to the B&B. I was in no state to go in after stepping in mud and muck, covered in suntan lotion and reeking of man scent, so I threw myself into a shower. All I can say is I made it !!! There was a function on and I managed to get in a few refreshments in !!!.
A good but “knackering” Day !!! My back is going into spasm, I must have spent at least 10 hours paddling !!!