Elimare tells us about mudslides and sore thighs…
It’s a cold crisp winter afternoon, the kind of cold best described as ‘brass monkeys’. I’m sitting in a pile of mud in fits of laughter. Above me Mr. Birdbath is snickering and Mr. Blather is sitting comfortably on a log or a tree stump or something. Whatever it is, he looks entirely too comfortable and the ease with which he clambers up mountains of muck is beginning to piss me off. Granted, this is the first and only muck hill we will encounter today, things could be worse.
I eventually manage to crawl under the log and up the hill onto solid ground. There are another two behind me who have to try and navigate the mud, and avoid the snapping branches so I know I’ve got a couple of minutes to take a breather.
This was supposed to be a gentle wander through the woods, and up to now it had been. Taking Mr. Blather’s secret short cut across the forest had seemed like a good idea. It had been a simple enough plan, take a walk through Massy’s Woods and on up to the Hellfire club. The event had been billed as a ‘ghost hunt’, which sounded quite intriguing and if nothing else it would get me out of the house and getting some semblance of exercise in that dead zone between Christmas and New Years. The ghosts alas, were on a break for the holidays although the forest was what could be termed ‘eerily silent’ if it hadn’t been for the few hundred other hill-walkers trekking about in the mud not to mention the family attempting motorcross in the riverbed.
I have to admit I’ve never gone walking in Ireland, although it was always a favourite past time of mine to wander through the snowy backwoods when I lived in Canada where the silence is oddly crisp and echoes come rolling through the trees. Massy’s woods itself was beautiful, and once we got off the beaten track and lost the many-legged trekkers who (perhaps intelligently) stuck to the pathways we were able to walk across virgin snow, well, slightly tarty slush would perhaps be a better way of describing it.
It’s cold when you stand still. I bundled up this morning, layering sweaters over t-shirts over fleeces. I’m nice and warm but I’ve stuffed my camera lenses into the massive inside pockets of my jacket so I look like the Michelin man with added love handles. We stop a moment for a breather, that one simple hill of mud has taken its toll on those of us who aren’t as fit as we thought we were. (ie. Me) Then it’s on up and across the road to the Hellfire club, yet another place I’ve never been.
I imagine it would have been nice if there wasn’t so much traffic up and down the hill, it’s rather hard to imagine yourself an adventurer when 60-year-old joggers are passing you out. We stand around for a few minutes, taking in the view and fiddling with cameras. Then as so often happens once you reach a well-known tourist spot, we get bored. (Anyone who has been to Niagara Falls will know exactly what I mean. ‘Yes, that sure is a lot of water, now where’s the loo?’)
We traipse back down the hill (going down is so much easier) slipping and sliding all the way. I’m secure in the knowledge that my Doc’s will keep me upright. They got me up and down Mount Sinai, so a walk in the Dublin hills shouldn’t be any great task. And then it’s across the road again and back to the cars. By this stage I’m muddy and footsore, but there’s one last thing that Mr. Blather wants to show us. A wedge tomb in Kilmashogue. ‘I found it about 100 yards off the path, and there’s no sign to say it’s there’ says Mr. Blather, thrilled that he can show us something we’ve never seen before. I stay silent, ‘100 yards off the path’ for Mr. Blather could mean anything from a stretch of gentle rolling meadow to a vertical cliff face. It turns out to be a fairly steep hill, or maybe that’s just my thighs complaining again.
We are losing light now, I try and take a few shots, but I’m shooting black and white so chances are the photos will be pitch black and murky. Then I realise I haven’t taken the lens cap off. Once again we stand around the tomb, breathing heavily and it’s now that we begin to notice the cold. A couple more minutes of pretending to be interested in the pile of rocks and Mr. Birdbath shouts out ‘Pints!’ so it’s back to the cars for a short drive across to the Blue Light.
A well deserved drink and some King cheese’n’onion crisps and we began to feel normal again, or at least as normal as it is possible for a bunch of ghost-huntin’ blatherskites to be.
Ghost Hunt 2003 Photographs »
Deep In the Woods: Mr. Slaphead reports from the Blather trip to Massys Woods, Dublin »