Oscar Wilde described the Connemara region as a “savage beauty” – he was surely referring to the rough landscape that is largely covered with peat bogs, rocky hills, and interlocking chains of lakes. I’ve got to say, if ever there was a lonely landscape, it would have to be this region of Ireland.
To really and truly appreciate Connemara you have to get some height – as in go climb a mountain or a hill. Although the Twelve Bens mountain range is right in the area too, I couldn’t resist the Diamond Hill hike; it started right outside my hostel door in Letterfrack and was a fairly easy 7km hike. They want you to hike and enjoy the scenery so there is a carved out and maintained path until three quarters of the way up the hill.
The last part of the hike gets incredibly steep though, so instead of looking at the scenery to my back I huffed and concentrated on making it to the peak – and I think it was almost better this way.
Once I got to the top of Diamond Hill, Connemara’s mottled coastline competed in beauty with the cool blue lakes and slices of sunlight peeping through the clouds. It’s stunning, beautiful, gorgeous…all of those clichéd travel brochure descriptions? – yeah, it was those.
But it was also incredibly still and quiet. Even in Scotland there wasn’t this much peace and tranquility at the top of the mountains and hills. The air was still, and even at a mere 400 meters up it seemed as if another human didn’t exist for hundreds of miles.
Diamond Hill is a loop hike so the whole time the scenery diverse and different scenery. I loved having my French friends for the day to do the hike with – but that’s one of those double edged swords of traveling, you meet really cool people, and you truly get along and appreciate the unique experiences you had with them, but, well, you move on. They were heading onward to Galway the next morning so we had some fun hiking, shared a couple of beers and swapped stories.
I’ll always remember hiking up this gorgeous mountain with them, even though I may never meet them again. This is just one of those travelers dilemmas – do extend your network to every cool person you meet, keep them as Facebook friends and try to stay connected, or do you suffice with the pleasant memory and bid them farewell as they hop on their bus?