Does the famous Irish welcome still exist? Or is it now just another legend like Saint Patrick and Cu Chulainn? On Monday, 25th January, mountaineer and outdoor enthusiast Nathan Kingerlee will begin hiking the Blackwater Way along with a goat and a dog in order to find out.
The Blackwater Way is a way-marked trail, stretching from Shrone near Killarney in Kerry, to Clogheen, near Clonmel in Tipperary. Along the way it meanders down the lush Blackwater Valley, through fertile farmland and weaves through the Bogeragh and Knockmealdown Mountains. It’s one of 31 national way-marked trails, such as the Kerry Way and Wicklow Way. Although a popular route for hikers, it has probably never had such an unlikely group as a man, a goat and a dog travel its paths before!
“I have wanted to hike the Blackwater Way for a long time” says Kingerlee. “The idea of bringing a goat along came to me one evening while in my local bar over a few pints. I had just finished the book ‘Round Ireland With A Fridge’ by Tony Hawks and thought I would love to do something like that but instead of a fridge, a goat would be much better company.”
Kerry native, Nathan Kingerlee, who runs Outdoors Ireland, an adventure company in Killarney, is optimistic about his journey. However, his biggest fear is that the goat may not be able to keep up with a 20km – 30km pace each day over 168km. It is a long trek for any human on his own but how will he cope with the company of a dog and a goat? The goat, Bob, is being donated by Cronin’s Yard at Carrauntoohil and Cara the dog is Kingerlee’s own Springer puppy. “As this is outside of tourist season I’m hoping to find enough B&Bs open along the way” says Kingerlee. “The goat will be able to forage for food in the hedgerows and my dog is going through a stage of catching birds, so neither of them will go hungry!”
“In terms of equipment I’ll be fully prepared and organised, but in terms of the actual hike I’ll be doing I’ve no idea what to expect and that’s what I’m really looking forward to. It will be a chance to rediscover Ireland as a tourist, take each day as it comes and see what unfolds along the way” says Kingerlee. “There’s also a slightly more serious aspect, I’ve spent my whole working life in the tourism industry; I want to take a step outside the industry and see if the Irish welcome that we market overseas still does exist in the little towns and pubs along the way and see if the infrastructure and information is in place for a tourist who could step off a bus in Killarney next Spring and decide walk the Blackwater Way.”
Kingerlee will be keeping a daily blog of his journey on his website www.outdoorsireland.com.