Nathan Kingerlee, a County Kerry native, is looking forward to a 168-kilometer hike along the south coast of Ireland with Cara, his dog, and Bob, the goat he borrowed from a neighbor, for company.
The 27-year-old is about to embark on the Blackwater Way hike in the south of Ireland with unusual company; a dog and a goat.
"The idea of bringing a goat along came to me one evening while in my local bar over a few pints. I had just finished the book ‘Round Ireland With A Fridge’ by Tony Hawks and thought I would love to do something like that but instead of a fridge, a goat would be much better company,” Kingerlee told IrishCentral.
Kingerlee, who runs an adventure company in Killarney, said hiking the Blackwater Way is something he has "wanted to do for a long time."
The Blackwater Way is a hiking trail full of wild bogs, mountain, forest, roadways, glens, historic settlements, lakes, rivers and stretches of beautiful isolation stretching from Shrone near Killarney in Kerry, to Clogheen, near Clonmel in Tipperary.
Kingerlee lives in Killorglin, a small town in Co. Kerry that celebrates an old Irish festival each year by honoring a goat.
"Bob actually comes from Cronin’s Yard, a farm at the base of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain. Most years King Puck is caught on the foothills of Carrauntoohil, so although Bob was never a King Puck, he could well be a distant, or not so distant, relation of a real life Puck," said Kingerlee.
Kingerlee, who beings his adventure on Monday, January 25 and hopes to finish by the end of the weekend, worries about Bob's stamina. Kingerlee is hoping to cover between 20km to 30km a day, and Bob is small enough to just about lift over fences
As for the relationship between Bob and Cara, well, said Kingerlee, when the animals met for the first time this week, Bob gave her (Cara) "a puck" with his horns.
"Since then they’ve been studiously ignoring each other. I’m sure they will start getting on better once we start our journey. They’ll have to as we’ll be staying in B&B’s and eating in pubs along the way and they will need to be on their best behavior," laughs Kingerlee.
Speaking to IrishCentral about the potential weather situations, Kingerlee said he is well prepared for blazing sunshine, snow and even torrential rain.
‘‘In terms of equipment I’ll be fully prepared and organized, but in terms of the actual hike I’ll be doing I’ve no idea what to expect and that’s what I’m really looking forward to," he said.
Kingerlee, who is in the tourism business, said his hike will give him an opportunity to see Ireland through the eyes of a tourist.
"I’ve spent my whole working life in the tourism industry; I want to take a step outside the industry and see if the Irish welcome that we market overseas still does exist in the little towns and pubs along the way and see if the infrastructure and information is in place for a tourist who could step off a bus in Killarney next spring and decide walk the Blackwater Way.’’
Kingerlee plans to spend his days hiking the trails with his four legged companions and his nights in some of Ireland's quaint Bed and Breakfasts.
"I'm hoping to meet plenty of people and get lots of suggestions along the way as to where to stay or great little detours to take or things to see. I’ve already had an offer from some nuns at a convent just outside Mallow, in Cork, to stay with them, along with my animals. They have an organic farm and have said their donkeys and cows would be delighted to meet some new friends," he said.
When asked what they will do for food while they hike, Kingerlee said, ‘‘The goat will be able to forage for food in the hedgerows and my dog is going through an unfortunate stage of catching birds, so neither of them will go hungry!’’