Firstly, apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein for the title of this piece and any earworm that may accrue.
At a recent pow-wow with other outdoor operators we were discussing the merits and otherwise of the long distance routes in Ireland. One the often raised complaints was the fact that a lot of the routes are along country lanes rather than on the greenways and forest tracks.
Now, I love the thunk-thunk of a grassy trail as much as the next person but I’m here to stick up for the humble country lane. We’ve all got to end of a long hike and grumbled at the aching of legs and knees etc. But that’s surely because of the footwear we have on our feet rather than the lane itself. Squeeze in a pair or trusty trainers or sports shoe to your bag and as long as it’s not too wet you should find progress comfortable as well as rather swift with that pub symbol on the map getting ever closer. I love getting the end of a forrested section and onto a grass strewn farm track or country lane, I find it far easier to navigate from and it generally means that I’m not lost or at the very least not that far from civilization of some kind. A quiet country lane and a cluster of houses allows a glimpse into the lives and gardens of others. One of my fondest memories whilst doing the South Leinster Way was dropping into Inistioge in the constant drizzling rain (well, it was January) and whilst on the lane dropping into the village was a lady who was bringing in the washing invited us in for a cup of tea and to get dry. Fortunately for her the soft glow of lights from the village was calling and we passed on her generous offer.
Who hasn’t enjoyed the escaping a particularly boggy track to enjoy the respite afforded by a tarmac path? I also think it gets a hard time because the lane is usually at the start or, more importantly, the end of a hard day. But I say relax, enjoy the surroundings, drink it in, It’s just another part of the tapestry of that particular walk. Love your country lane.