A pilgrim's (slow) progress
by Jessica Pook | 21 June 2017
"Did you bring the emergency water?" I wheezed between gasps of air. We had scarcely made it above sea level, but already I was struggling to ration my bottle of Evian, whilst weaving our way toward the towering mound ahead.
Climbing Croagh Patrick was our way of fully immersing ourselves into Irish culture, aside from sampling the local delicacy - Guinness of course! Reaching the top of the very same mountain that St Patrick himself conquered was sure to be a highlight of the trip, or so we thought.
Croagh Patrick is named after Ireland's patron saint, who is said to have climbed and then fasted for 40 days at the summit back in 441AD. It has since been a popular pilgrimage destination, drawing thousands of hardy souls to climb the holy mountain, many choosing to do it barefoot!
We had bought the expensive waterproof, lugged the bulky hiking boots around and practiced the accent on the treadmill at the gym (just one time), and yet we had managed to forget the single most important ingredient to keep us alive. We had forgotten to pack enough water.
Onwards we climbed, our hoods shielding our puffy, red faces as we battled against the gale-force wind. I looked behind into the fear-filled eyes of my companion and wondered if attempting a mountain of this height in these January conditions was actually sane?
"Please, lets turn back!" she said, and for a second I thought that the mountain had beaten us. My calves were burning, face stinging, and I couldn't work out if I was sweating or shivering, but surely we were halfway? There were sheep that had made it further than we had! There was no way we were turning back now.
Taking in the craggy path below us, the views that surrounded did not disappoint. The emerald hills that sloped into the shimmering Clew Bay did well to dramatise the rugged Irish countryside, and although the wind may have been testing, filling your lungs made you feel alive.
A friendly Canadian, who had been gaining on us for some time, gave us a sympathetic smile and a few fleeting words of encouragement as he bounded on past, fully focused on the goal ahead.
Another passed, dressed in jeans and loafers, as if he'd got lost on his way to the Co-op.
Then the Canadian, already on his decent, stopped to ask if we had enough supplies, clearly a little concerned about what little progress we'd made.
We looked ahead at the peak, soaring into the sky and suddenly it seemed within reaching distance. We pushed forward, using all fours to balance against the steep slope and the loose stone underfoot, until eventually we could see the ground even out.
Fuelled by euphoria and still in disbelief, we looked over the mountain we had just conquered. All 764 metres of rock dominating the County Mayo area, ready to be greeted by a view to make the struggle worthwhile. Where a green tapestry of rolling fields once was ... there lay nothing but fog!
by Jessica Pook | 05 December 2018
by Laura Gelder | 21 November 2018
by Jessica Pook | 08 November 2018
by Laura Gelder | 13 September 2018
by Julie Baxter | 12 July 2018
by Jessica Pook | 31 May 2018
by Jessica Pook | 10 May 2018
by Jessica Pook | 02 May 2018
by Ben Coren | 05 April 2018
by Louis Hepworth | 01 March 2018
by Jessica Pook | 22 February 2018
by Julie Baxter | 31 January 2018
by Laura Gelder | 25 January 2018
by Laura Gelder | 18 January 2018
by Jessica Pook | 21 December 2017
by Ben Coren | 06 December 2017
by Laura Gelder | 09 November 2017
by Jessica Pook | 04 October 2017
by Jessica Pook | 06 September 2017
by Nina Farrimond | 31 August 2017
by Nina Farrimond | 24 August 2017
by Hannah Wallis | 16 August 2017
by Maria Martinez-Ugartechea | 26 July 2017
by Sheena Adesilu | 24 July 2017
by Amelia Glean | 13 July 2017
by James Gray | 05 July 2017
by Ellie Smith | 28 June 2017
by Jessica Pook | 21 June 2017
by Ben Coren | 07 June 2017
by Carly Hacon | 01 June 2017
by Carly Hacon | 24 May 2017
by Ben Coren | 18 May 2017
by Laura Gelder | 03 May 2017
by Laura Gelder | 27 April 2017
by Laura Gelder | 09 March 2017
by Laura Gelder | 01 March 2017
by Laura Gelder | 23 February 2017
by Laura Gelder | 16 February 2017
by Julie Baxter | 25 January 2017
by Laura Gelder | 18 January 2017
by Laura Gelder | 04 January 2017
by Laura Gelder | 21 December 2016
by Julie Baxter | 14 December 2016
by Laura Gelder | 07 December 2016
by Julie Baxter | 24 November 2016
by Julie Baxter | 26 October 2016
by Laura Gelder | 19 October 2016
by Laura Gelder | 12 October 2016
by Ben Coren | 05 October 2016
by Julie Baxter | 27 September 2016
by Laura Gelder | 21 September 2016
by Steve Hartridge | 09 September 2016
by Laura Gelder | 08 September 2016
by Julie Baxter | 01 September 2016
Don't miss out
We’d like to make sure you know when we've added fresh content here, including the latest features, blogs and reviews, product news you can really use and our pick of the best trade incentives and events out there. Sign up to Selling Travel Weekly and we can keep you up to date on the industry and inspired to sell more travel.