When I leave Galway, the rain is coming down so heavily that driving the streets feels like going through a carwash. The road towards the northwest is busier than I expect, and I just drive and listen to music, to liven up the drive. When I see my the first lake, I stop to take pictures, with clouds still lying so low in the sky, that I cannot see how high the mountains are. I turn right after Recess, and come across lake after lake, one more beautiful than the other. It might be wishful thinking, it might be reality, but I really believe that the layer of clouds is getting thinner. Indeed, there are moments when sunlight sets part of the landscape in the spotlight, and I stop ever more often for pictures. To the west, I know to be the Twelve Bens, the mountains of Connemara, but they remain hidden from view.
After parking at the visitor centre near Letterfrack, I pass by the visitor centre, where friendly staff explain the various routes to be hiked. They have no clue about the weather; the rain is closing in again, and the top of nearby Diamond Hill is completely hidden in thick clouds. I have a look at the well-done information centre, which explains the formation of the bogs here, and then have a look at satellite images which suggest the rain should stop. I decide to take my chances, close my raincoat, hide my camera from the moisture, and hike up. It is chilly, especially when I reach the higher, open landscapes where a wooden boardwalk facilitates walking on an otherwise swampy ground. I see a few yellow dots indicating people higher up the mountain, but it seems that most have given up hiking for the day. The last stretch up Diamond Hill gets a little wilder, with muddy parts and rocks. When I turn around, I see the brown and green slopes of the mountains towards Ballinakill Harbour towards the northwest - a great view. I am already rewarded for ignoring the rain and hiking up.
The rewards get even better once I reach the top of Diamond Hill. It is dry, and the sun is making a serious effort to burn itself through the clouds now. I am only at 400m here, but especially the wind makes it feel cold, so I wear all I have on me, and take the time to absorb the views on all sides. I see the coastline to the north and northwest, I see Kylemore Lough which I have driven along only an hour or so ago, and the green slopes of the Bens which remain covered by clouds. When I finally make my way down the mountain, the sun is shining on my head, and clouds sail through the sky. More people come out now, and I am happy I have already been to the top when I arrive back at the visitor centre. Diamond Hill is now clearly visible above a small lake, and although the clouds seem to stick to its summit again, the views are still there to enjoy. I hope to be back one day with clear weather, and will then climb a couple of the Bens to even better enjoy the Connemara National Park, and see Diamond Hill from above.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Connemara National Park (Ireland). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Connemara National Park.
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