Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Antrim Hills Heeeeuuuuugh!!

A noble quest to meet Tayto and sample the food of champions 


The idea was to nail the four Antrim Hills peaks over 500 metres (Slievenanee, Trostan, Slievanorra, Knocklayd) with the singlespeeds, drop into Ballycastle to meet the Tayto road-show for some well-earned crisps to replace the calories we’d lost, then head round Fair Head and do some other fun bits and pieces on the way back to Glenariff.  That was the plan...

Nothing would stop us meeting Pat Tayto in Ballycastle, who we were shocked to find was Davy's long-lost twin brother.
We were more than happy to leave Davy’s violently sick family at home in Antrim at 7:45am, and we parked near the wee hostel above Glenariff Forest Park at about 8:30am.  It was a cold, crisp, but clear morning – perfect for the hills. 

We’d never been up on Slievenanee and it was a nice enough walk up from Agan Bridge.  The tops of the hills must have been frozen for weeks, as there were some intriguing ice formations, but it’s normally so boggy in the Antrim Hills in general that we were glad of a crusty top; though when we did sink beneath the crust it was damnably cold on the wee tootsies!

Slievenanee done, we picked our way down to the saddle before dragging the bikes up Trostan, and by the time we were on top, the sun began to shine, and all was going according to plan.  We celebrated with Cadbury’s Cream Eggs and a sandwich before dropping onto The Ulster Way for a bit, then taking road and path towards the top of Slievanorra.

Clearly having not escaped the plague that had ravaged his family, Davy started to complain mightily of sore guts, then he ran out of gas and we had to get off and walk for ten minutes, then unusually he stopped complaining for a while, before finally collapsing in the ditch vomiting BIG.

Davy comes a cropper half way up Slieveanorra
Our Antrim Hills 500 dream now looking in tatters, he felt much better after a good hurl, but within another 5 minutes, he had no energy left in the tank at all and could barely walk.  He dragged his ass slowly to the top, and it was a long free-wheel down to the road.

We decided to split up here, sending me up over Knocklayd, the fourth and final mountain, and Davy cut his losses and took the flattish road round towards Ballycastle.  Knocklayd was a savage enough climb, but soon nailed with bike over shoulder, and the descent down into Ballycastle Forest and into the town was amazing, best of the day; great craic if you can be bothered dragging a bike up there.

By the time I had reached Ballycastle, Davy had only just arrived too, on foot, completely wasted, having succumbed to both a broken freewheel AND a puncture on the road.  We walked the bikes to the Spar to see the folks from Tayto, I ate my own body-weight in prawn cocktail crisps, then went for a hot dog and chips for dessert.  Davy just drank Coke and was having difficulty staying upright, so we took the common sense approach and got the bus to Ballymena. 

After Davy had vomited again into a bin at Ballymena bus station, big Stevie picked us up and left us back to the car at Glenariff – good old Stevie!  On the way back to Antrim, one more bout of vomiting from Davy from our moving car just off the Greystone Road (Davy was driving!) was enough to do us for the day.

All-told, a thoroughly enjoyable wee trip, unless you’re Davy!

Slievenanee, in happier times

The flat top of Slievenanee was bleak, looking towards Trostan
 
Ice!  This all looked much better on the day

Summit of Trostan, sun out, cream eggs down the 'hatch' (ah, I enjoyed that pun)

Looking from Trostan towards Slievanorra and Knocklayd
Davy considers the erstwhile contents of his stomach on Slieveanorra 

Davy IS genuinely sick here, but always puts on a good show for the camera!



Top of Knocklayd, on my lonesome

One more barf from the car, 300 yards from home


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