Saturday hill walk, Maulin Co. Wicklow

Saturday’s has become my “hill walking” day and after a week in the office, it feels really good getting out and about on the hills. It is a great catalyst to get out in nature, and take in all the beauty that is out there. We are approaching a very nice time of the year, Spring is lurking out there, but at the moment the “bad” and cold weather we’ve had have sort of kept spring from arriving properly. But, I’d say in a couple of weeks the weather will be much warmer and we will be able to enjoy sitting out in the sun again.

Me myself, am a sun lover and my best moment is an early morning, bringing my newly brewed strong coffee out in our garden and just sit out there taking in the scent of everything, listening to the birds chirping away in the trees and bushes, hearing the traffic humming in the distance. I love getting out early before life around us gets busy, before the neighbours wake up and starting their day. There is also a different scent outdoors at this time of year, not sure about you, but I certainly smell it.

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Last Saturday started out pretty good, with some sunny spells and patches of blue skies as you can see in the above photo. Moments like these are rare here in Ireland, but they do exist and when this happens you simply catch the moment and just enjoy it. I certainly do and that’s where my hill walks comes in handy. It does not matter if it is a sunny, rainy or extremely windy day, I still love it and see the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Anyway we started our walk by meeting at the Crone Forest car park and from here we will have a zig-saggy track, and for the fun of it we are throwing in a few lung busters as well. This time we have a few relatively new hill walkers with us, quite a large group actually, the more the merrier. I started out my hill walking here in Ireland with http://mikeshikes.ie and now I am helping out at the walks guiding and keeping the group together etc. I have always been an outdoorsy person and it comes easy to me.

Here we are starting to get up on the heights a little bit, climbing up towards the summit. And as you can see the clouds are closing up on us, and the mist were coming in behind us. It’s funny though, every time I have been up this summit [Maulin] it has always been misty, and poor visibility of the surrounding area. This summit is not so bad because there are paths to follow, a bit rocky but it’s fairly easy to find your way down on the other side. We did not stay too long up there because it was very windy and cold up there, and once we got down a bit it got warmer and less windy. We had the wind in our backs. But I quite enjoy this route.

This coming Saturday I am heading out on another adventure, longer walks and also a night walk so that should be interesting and fun. but I will write about it in another post.

Wishing all a great weekend and be safe out there!

Snowy on Fananieran ridge

Today it was time for our usual hillwalk and we were going to get up towards Fananieran ridge and then continue onto Croaghainmoira down in Southern Wicklow beside the Glenmalure valley which is one of the longest glaciated valleys in Wicklow. But as it turned out we were facing some slight problems that made us change our initial plans a little bit. 


It does not seem to be a problem here, right? But, the forecast were showing snow for today, and mainly on higher grounds. So before we stared out on our trek we decided to start our ascend at the south eastern side of Fananieran, and climb up to the “call” where we then could start our walk along the ridge, heading up towards the highest point. 


It does not look to be a steep climb, but for some it was. I stayed in the back being a backsweeper looking after the slower walkers in our group. Guiding people can occasionally prove to be a challenge, and today I had to keep a close eye one one of the walkers that was struggling a little and was staying close by. 


Once we reached the call an started our climb up towards the summit, the wind was roaring behind us. Luckily we had the wind in our backs and also the snow. I can tell you that walking in snow/blizzard is not very pleasant, the flurries feels like needles when hey hit your face. 

Therefore wearing the proper gear/clothing is essential. I had my full winter gear in today, because when I left my house I was thinking that’s the only thing that will work today. 


Was feeling a little like an Eskimo in this gear, but was warm and snug and the wind, snow and cold temps did not bother me that much. And I might be crazy but I love this, there is nothing that beat getting out in the mountains to connect with the wild nature. 


Once we reached the summit we decided to take a different route back down instead of continuing up towards the second summit that we had planned to reach. But sometimes you have to make a decision out of safety of the group you’re responsible for. And there’s no point putting yourself and the group in danger if you don’t have to. We will make a new try again when the weather has calmed down. 


And we made it safely back down to Glenmalure lodge which was our starting point. Another good day done, now on to the next, but first a week filled with training awaits. 

Updates to follow. Have a good week! 

Mountaineering is fun

January has been very mixed here in Ireland, weather wise, we have had everything from frost and cold days, to strong winds, rain and milder weather. And some conditions makes it a bit rougher being up in the mountains. But, if you are well prepared before heading you, you should be fairly safe. It can be mild and warm at the lower grounds, but once you get up higher, the temperature drops and sometimes depending on the heights you’re at, you’ll notice a big difference. The temperature drops 1 degree per/100 m you are ascending.

So if you for example are going to challenge walking up to the summit of Lugnaquilla, Wicklow which is 925 m. The temperature on lower grounds are lets say +9 degrees C then the temperature at the summit of Lugnaquilla would be zero degrees, and add the wind chill on top of that. It can be really nasty up there if you’re not prepared wearing the proper clothing and having the proper gear with you.

During the past three weeks of January I have had a fairly busy schedule being out in the mountains, where two of the weekends I were undergoing training in Mountain Skills. http://www.mountainskills.ie/

If you are getting out on a hill walk in the mountains, it is essential to know how to use your compass and map, those are on of the most important skills you will need, to be safe if you get caught in bad weather or fog/mist. The visibility can be as little as 20 m and in those conditions you really need to trust your compass and stick to your bearing. This is important! During these courses this was practiced in day light as well as during night time. We were lucky to have good visibility during both weekends, but things looks very different when you’re out there when it is dark. But knowing and trusting your navigation skills will keep you safe out there, and to be careful is essential. And of course wearing the right clothing and equipment, I cannot stress this well enough!

I never get tired of being out in the mountains, and I guess when you have found your passion for it, that is the way it is! That’s why I chose to join the mountain rescue team to do what I love and at the same time something meaningful as helping others in need out there. It’s a win-win situation in my opinion.

What draws me to the mountains? Well, since I grew up on the countryside of Sweden, I have always loved being out in the nature. There is nothing like getting out walking in the forest, on the hills or just being outdoors, it always gives me a sense of freedom while I am out there and it keeps me sane, sort of. Having an office job as I do, being outdoors takes the edge of the stressful tasks I undergo on a daily basis at work. So yet again it’s a win-win situation. And not only that, being out in the nature is very therapeutic, whether you’re out riding, hill walking, running, cycling or simply just being. Nature will often have a calming effect on most of us. And to be out hill walking, you come across easy forest tracks, paths, rougher grounds, man made tracks and that makes it exiting in itself, because the terrain are changing depending on where you are.  Walking up a hill, it may feel tough, but the reward is the view you’re getting once you are up there. Take a look at the pictures i have posted above. They may not look like much, as they are very dull and showing gray and misty weather, but to me that is absolutely gorgeous. No matter the weather the mountains are fantastic!

This weekend there is resting on the agenda since I have a slight cold, and it is a good opportunity to let the body rest after all the physical hard work during the past weeks. I’ll be back at it soon enough since we have more training lined up. But so far so good and am grateful that I have the healthy and physique, so will keep at it as long as it allows me to.

February is knocking at the door, and a new month with new adventures.

A Wednesday trek ascending Maulin..

On January 4th I was out on the first hill walk in 2017, and the task was to trek from Crone forest ascending Maulin (Co. Wicklow) linking up with Wicklow way on the way back to the Crone Forest car park. http://mikeshikes.ie/

The weather looked very promising in the morning, with blue skies, a little breeze and comfortable temperatures. But as an experienced hill walker I know it would be slightly colder and breezier once getting up a bit on the hills. So, this time I layered up so that I would be nice and snug no matter weather we’d face up there.

In the pictures above we are still climbing uphill from our starting point at the Crone forest car park. There are a few lung busters on the way, but we took it nice and easy. And, as you can see it started to be quite misty once we reached the higher grounds, and the wind was picking up too. If you look closely at the first picture you will see a raven soaring in the winds, I like their characteristic sound.

While we were trekking up along the ridge as you can see on the first larger picture above, it was extremely windy, coming from West. And you could feel the chill in them, so had to wrap up and pull up the hood while walking there. And once we started to walk around the bend, heading further up hill up onto the summit the ground was a bit rough with rocks and chisel. We had to be careful and see where you put your feet, you can easily twist an ankle if you’re not paying attention to the ground. I am using trekking poles when walking on rougher ground, it helps keep the stability and you can at the same time sort of “feel” your way through the grounds. Trekking poles are also good to use when walking down hills to ease the pressure for your knees.

The descent from Maulin was not so bad, and went fairly fast, we had the wind in our backs. And once down we linked up with Wicklow way.  If you want to read more about the Wicklow way you can press the link above. The Wicklow way is a 127 km long trail, which you can take in sections. Some do the whole stretch and camp out. When we are out walking we often link onto it one way or another.

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This is the Wicklow way trail we were following.

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Beautiful view and the gorse is a lovely contrast to the dull environment. It was very misty unfortunately, but this happens ever so often here in Ireland, especially if you’re heading for the hills. Some days you can be lucky to have beautiful views, and other times it is like pea soup, you see absolutely nada.

But we had a great time and was even passed by a few mountain bikers on the way down. This was a fairly short walk (8km) but was enjoyable. Afterwards we met for a coffee down at Poppies in Enniskerry village which was our initial meeting point.

This coming weekend I have a Mountain Skill course so it will be all about navigation with map and compass. Looking forward to that very much.

A year in pictures

Happy New Year! 2016 has ended and a new year has begun. 2016 has been an eventful year, with new skills to learn and all that comes with it. In February I went on a four week long journey to Denmark, Sweden & Norway. It was not a leasure trip, it was purely for work. I spent two weeks in Copenhagen, Denmark, one week in Stockholm, Sweden and lastly one week in Oslo, Norway.

Even though I was working a lot, I tried to also take time to spend some time in the cities, to look around and get the feel for the three cities. Well, Stockholm is sort of in my home back garden, know it by heart and I never visit Stockholm without walking to my favorite area behind the Royal castle. This area is called the Old Town, and I can wander around these old buildings for hours and hours, and every now and then sneak into a coffee shop to have a coffee and gorgeous cinnamon buns.

Then we have Copenhagen, it’s a nice city, I have been visiting here a few times in the past. This time I had two full weeks, and unfortunately after the first week I got a really nasty cold, or I think it was the flu. I was really bad, but still had to go into work and do what I was there to do. Well…well…

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It was mid march when I finally got back to Ireland, and boy was I happy to be back HOME. After leaving Oslo, that still had a very cold winter, I arrived home to Spring. The garden were starting to wake up and I could not help myself, but enjoying my favorite spot in our garden and let the Sun warm my face.

 

In May we decided to take a long weekend away and went to the west part of Ireland, to Gougane Barra. We arrived to the hotel in the afternoon, and this place was really quiet and nice. Located beside a lake. And just a short walk from a forest national park, and I think that was the most gorgeous place, it was like entering another world. The second day we went for a walk after breakfast before heading off on our day trip. And here we were walking on the road towards the forest. Himself and I said, that we can just take a quick look and see what we find. But we never expected the things we saw once we walked around the bend. In front of us where the most amazing landscape, and I kid you not, we saw tree after tree after tree…and for Himself designing gardens and tree houses…this was like stepping into a paradise.

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This year has been a lot about nature, and being out exploring! Himself and I we love the simple things in life. The pictures above is from our fishing trip to Ennis, Co. Clare, also in the west of Ireland. We stayed in a nice hotel, and it was pretty quiet, just like we want it. But, the main thing this weekend was just fishing. Well, I did not do so much fishing, I was more like the documenter of the whole thing, and have to admit it was quite peaceful sitting by the lake late in the evening, listening to the surrounding farmers getting their kettles ready for the evening, cows needed to be fed and milked, and as we sat there and the time moved, it became quieter and quieter. It was still a bit cold, and we really had to wrap up well.

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In August we went down to West Cork, to explore that area. Himself has spent a lot of times down there, but I had not been to all the places yet. It’s a beautiful area, with the sea, all the fresh fish and seafood. We spent nearly two weeks down there, driving around, simply enjoying the simple things of life.

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We did have some nice sunny days this summer, and BBQ was on the menu a lot.

Here is my favorite spot, our garden, I have spent many early mornings and days out here.

In between all the busyness I have gotten out with the cycling club doing some good spins around Wicklow area. We usually do our Sunday spins.

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During October – December I have spent a lot of time out in various areas of the Wicklow mountains. And, every time I am out there I get a sense of freedom. It does not matter if it is a dull and grey day or a sunny day, the mountains are just a beautiful no matter the weather.

I was out cycling this morning, the second day of 2017, and it was a beautiful morning with a little bit of chill in the air. But it was all calm, and clear blue skies, and just lovely. While working our way up the hilly roads, it is lovely to look around you and seeing those rolling hills, beautiful landscape, sheep calmly eating their way on the fields, the mountains rising up in the surrounding distance.

The pictures above are taken from various areas of Wicklow mountains.

So, yes, it has been a very eventful year and this year can only get better. There are many things in the making, and goals to work towards and I feel very exited about them all.

I will get back with more updates on that later. But for now I am closing the book for 2016 and will move on into this new year 2017.

 

The wild Mountains

Recently I have been out on a challenging walk through rougher terrains of the Wicklow mountains. A few of us were out doing a walk. We walked a part which took us over very rough terrain, with wet grounds, rough bog areas and mist. I knew from the start that this would be a long day’s walk, and prepared myself by starting out eating a good breakfast. Packing my provisions I would need during the day, to refill your energy depots are extremely important while doing the hill walks. I always carry raisins/sultanas, chocolate and snack bars in my “food bag” along with some lunch which usually is wraps that I prepare before heading out.

To chose the right gear is essential, and always be prepared for the worst, anything can happen while your out there. It can be nice weather when you start walking, but it can change very quickly once you get up a bit higher. The air gets cooler and you are facing stronger winds and many times mist/fog which makes the visibility limited. And this particular morning it started out pretty good on the lower grounds, but once we started to get up a bit higher we were facing the mist and cold air. The climb up towards Art’s Cross was the toughest part, because it was quite steep and you had to take it very slow and easy while climbing up. The ground was extremely wet and mucky, so it was quite slippery.

This day we were walking some 17 km and it took us in total seven hours.

When we were out on the flat area working our way back, we came across a pack of deer, there is a lot of them around the mountains. Luckily for us, that the fog had lifted otherwise we would not be able to have such clear sight as we had here. The deer’s were gorgeous as you can see in these photos. We stopped and were quiet not to disturb them too much, they eventually ran off  and we could continue our journey over the bog.

So you can see from these photos, that the grounds we were walking were not even, you had to be really careful and look where you put your feet. My advise is to always wear a good pair of boots with good ankle support, to help you feel more comfortable. And gaiters is always good to wear to prevent muck and wet get into your shoes and it also keeps the lower part of your trousers clean. I made a few jumps over the bog where I landed with one foot, and I could hear a ‘swomp’ and my foot went down a few inches in the muck. This happened a few times on this walk, but thanks to my good choice of gear my feet were warm and dry when I got home as well as my lower legs. However there were a few times I had to make a bum slide to be able to get down from a high sloop where it was wee too high to make a jump. But that comes with the work as they say.

Here are a few more picture, that will give you an idea of the area we walked. The views are always spectacular, even on a grayish day like this.

I have been resting for a few days this week and will be heading out on the hills again on Saturday, to a different part of Wicklow Mountains. This time we will walk down in the Glenmalure area which is south west from Glendalough.

I will be back with more updates next week. It is getting closer to Christmas and hope that you are all prepared to enjoy this holiday season.

Brockagh Mountain, Saturday hill walk

I’m waking up to a quite grey morning, the temperature is around 6 degrees so it’s not so bad. We should be alright for the hill walk this morning, I am taking a peak towards the mountains and it looks like it might be rainy up there. The thing with the mountains is, that you never really know. It can be good weather or it can be completely different from what it is on the lower grounds. So, one of my ground rules before heading out – Always be prepared! There is nothing worse than getting caught in a really bad weather and not having packed the necessary things you would need, such as rain over trousers, or warm layers, extra hat and gloves [in case you need to change]. Today we actually had to stop a few people from coming out with us, for the reason that they did not have proper clothing on. If someone is showing up not wearing proper shoes, and  wearing jeans that is a no-no. And the route we were walking today was very rough in places very rocky, mucky and uneven.

Things that I always carry with me on a ‘normal’ hike is an extra warm layer of clothes, extra hat and gloves [in case I need to change] or if someone else hasn’t brought any, my snack bag with sultanas, snack bars and chocolate & food, a flask of hot tea with honey, almost 2 liter of water, personal first aid kit, map & compass, lip balm, and other small bits and pieces I might need. I tend to think one step ahead…

Our leader at http://www.mikeshikes.ie  gave me another task for today, and that was to guide the group. I was going in the front with the map, and guiding the group along our path. And since it was quite mucky and rocky in places, I walked ahead and they simply followed in my foot steps [literally]. I take these ‘tasks’ seriously since this is a part of my training for the Mountain rescue team, and the more practice the better to get confident on the mountains. And at the same time I get to practice more on my navigating skills using the map and compass, and getting our bearing, paying attention to the surrounding land marks etc. I am getting to know the mountains more and feel comfortable out there. There are probably many other things to do on a Saturday, but this is what I do and loving it.

And one other upside of being out like this is that it is extremely refreshing and relaxing, there’s nothing better than being outdoors in the nature, among the hills, forests and what have you. And wherever you turn, when you’re up there, you have these spectacular views.

This walk too us a good four hours and the total distance was around 11 km. That is a nice distance and the weather was not too bad, it was a bit rainy in places and cold wind on the summits, but once we were in sheltered places it was very nice.

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Next week we are heading for Luggala Mounatin, Co. Wicklow, it’s a 586 m summit. With great views of Lough Tay, neighbouring Knocknacloghoge, Tonelagee, Scarr and Djouce, and perhaps we will run into some deer’s too, they are running free in that area. Something else we might see is the peregrine falcons, which inhabit the nearby cliffs. The terrain will be minor road, hard rough mountain track, rough boggy mountain track with often indistinct tracks. Stay tuned on this spot and I’ll be back with an update next week.

In the meantime I wish you a great and relaxing weekend and week ahead.

Here are a few doodles I was doing this week, I draw/write these things in my journal.

 

There’s always something to celebrate

Today I am celebrating ten years living in Ireland, I arrived on the 25th of November 2006 on my own and with literally two empty hands. At the time I didn’t have a proper goal, my only goal at the time was that I wanted and needed a job, and as it has turned out it has proved to be a good choice and a smart choice, if I may say so.

img_4990It has been a long and interesting journey, have not always been easy coming in as a foreigner in a new country. But, I was fortunate to have a good base of English when I arrived, it has made it a lot easier for me to integrate into the society and get use to the language [we do have many different accents here in Ireland too] I started my time in Ireland down in Cork city, and the accent there is very different from where I live now. But, you get use to it and life goes on, kind of.

 

 

Today started with an early rise, even though I was off from work, but lot’s to do. There is an event on for tomorrow RTL – Run The Line, which is one of three charity events the DWMRT (Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team) runs every year. RTL

And we have some 600+ participant’s that has signed up for this particular run, so we are a good crowd out tomorrow working along the routes. A few of us were out marking the routes today, and above are a few pictures from there. It is up in the Dublin Mountains, and it looks like it will be a dry day tomorrow, which is fantastic for all the runners, and for us too of course that will be at various check points guiding the runners.

I must say that I truly enjoy being part of this fantastic group to do something meaningful and to be able to be outdoors as many of you probably have guessed – I really like!! And, even if the day may be grey and dull, the things you see when you are out there and up on the hills of Dublin- and Wicklow mountains is spectacular.

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This picture was taken by one of the guys in the team today, I am the tallest one. And in the background you see Dublin city below and in front of us.

So, tomorrow it is a “wrap up well” day, because it is a bit chilly out there and up on the hills there is a breeze as well. The forecast looks good, so that is fantastic!

 

Here’s a few of my journal doodles I have done recently, in between all the busy times I enjoy relaxing just doing some doodles, it can be anything really. And, soon it is Christmas time and looking forward to put up all the lights and decorations. I have started a little bit already.

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I have put some light on my “bike” looks really good.

Enjoy your week and stay warm!!

 

 

Trek up to Scarr summit (641m)

The hill walk this weekend was taking us up to the summit of Scarr mountain, co Wicklow. img_4963

At this hill walk I knew it was going to be cold, especially when reaching higher grounds. So this day the warm gear was coming on. Where I live is on the lower grounds and we are only about 15 – 20 minutes by car from the mountains, and leaving our area you are gradually climbing upwards, and you can even feel your ears pop. Luckily there was no ice on the roads this morning, I was a bit worried that it might be. When I reached the higher grounds, I could see the snow covered mountain tops in the distance and I was thinking, this is absolutely gorgeous.

I met up with the group (http://www.mikeshikes.ie) in a place called Roundwood and we were a good amount getting out today. From Roundwood we then drove another 5-10 minutes to park the cars before starting our trek for the day. This was a slightly longer route, and the first half of it would contain a lot of climbing, and there were some false horizons. But as we started our journey up the hill, the air slightly changed and we started to encounter frost on the ground, and some icy patches where the water was creating streams down the hills.

The wind was slightly picking up while we were climbing, but the views that met us on the way up was absolutely stunning. You certainly feel like one with nature up there, it’s not only beautiful, if you’re not careful it can be quite dangerous. It is important to first of all take it easy, look where you put your feet, to avoid slipping and hurting yourself. Stay on the grass side of the path if possible, to avoid icy patches. At some areas with rocks it might be hard to see the think layer of ice.

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In the picture above we have just reached the summit, and you see how much frost that is covering the grounds. The mountains in the far distance are a bit higher and some of them were totally covered with snow. Lugnaquilla is one of them and it was practically completely white. At this summit, Scarr, it was very cold so we only took a quick nibble break before we started our journey down to the lower grounds.

I have been walking with this group http://www.mikeshikes.ie  for a while and the leader, Mike, lives in the same estate as us. And he is a trained mountain guide and always takes us on very good walks, real hikes if you like. Because we walk through terrains that can be both easy and tough, and we really get to experience the roughness and wildness of the landscape. The Wicklow mountains has many beautiful spots, and each of them has something special.

On this walk we encountered various views as you can see in the pictures, down below it was calmer and felt really warm actually. But when reaching higher up, it was changing fast and you were really happy to be all wrapped up. I can’t stress this enough, that to dress properly is essential when getting out on the hills. It is better to peal off a layer if you get warm or the opposite put on an extra layer if it gets colder. Always be prepared by bringing an extra layer of warm clothes in your back pack along with hot drink, water and food/snacks. It is good to carry a storm shelter and survival blankets as well, should you get caught in bad weather.

Where I come from it was a necessity to wrap up well, it’s almost like when you learn to ride a bicycle, after a while you just do it…the autopilot sort of kicks in if that makes sense. I have taken part in winter courses up in the northern areas of Sweden, and up there it is really cold. It can be around-25 to -30 degrees Celcius.

Here are a few pictures of me and my friends in the Home Guard Service (I am the one in the middle) all dressed up in the Swedish Military Uniform, we were all leaders of a cooking group in various areas of Sweden. And at this occasion we were spending a week up in Luleå, the airforce base. The purpose of this course was to learn how to prevent the food, water and other supplies from freezing in the cold. Being in the cooking group might seem like an easy task, but it is a lot of hard work involved, physically and mentally. When you are out in field in cold weather conditions, you have to use your common sense in many ways. First of all to dress properly and the army was great in that sense, they provided us with all essential clothing and equipment that we needed. But one good thing was that you were quite popular among the other units, because everybody needed to EAT and get something warm to drink.

For us it was long days, and it started with early morning getting the kitchen up and cooking. Our kitchen was made out of a big trailer, where we had wood burners and from the burner we connected the pots, and did pressure cooking. When you cook for many people that is really the most effective. And once the breakfast was finished, we started to prepare for lunch and so it went all through the day until it was time to retire into our tent. Yep, we slept in large military tents and kept watch one hour per person. And the wood burner in the middle of the tent, should be glowing red, then the temperature was nice and cosy. You could sort of see if it was warm enough, because the people sleeping pulled their feet closer up towards their stomach away from the heat.

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I am ending with this picture, another one from Wicklow close to Sally Gap.  Wishing all a great week ahead, stay warm and safe!