Ireland – they call it the Emerald Isle because everywhere is so green. It’s no wonder it’s so green, they have so much bloody rain! And when it’s not raining, there’s gale force winds to dry everything out. I‘m sure it’s not always like this, but that’s certainly been our experience over the past two weeks, although it’s fair to say the weather hasn’t spoiled our enjoyment of this beautiful place. It really is green, it really is lush and it really is a fantastic place to travel around.
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve followed the Wild Atlantic Way around the south-west coastline, from Cork, around the Beara Peninsula, around the Ring of Kerry and then out onto the Dingle Headland. Three separate parts to this journey, each one as beautiful as the others, each with amazing scenery, but each with their own distinct charm.
- Beara was probably our favourite : Lambs Head at the tip of the headland was a very special place to visit followed by a fantastic drive along the northern coastline through the tiny (very tiny) winding lanes which picked their way through the boulder strewn countryside.
- The Ring of Kerry, the most famous, and probably the most beautiful, with amazing views over the coastline and the offshore islands. Fortunately there were plenty of stopping places along the roadside to sit and drink in the amazing views. However with its fame comes tourist’s, and a constant stream of coaches filling the roads, and stopping at the same laybys. Heaven knows what it would be like in peak season!
- The Dingle Penninsular was memorable for two things: the beautiful little town of Dingle which really is a picturesque and quintessential Irish seaside village, and the “Slea Head” drive – this wasn’t much more than a single track road, high on the cliffs around the headland. Fortunately the roads were quiet, I wouldn’t have fancied meeting another 7 1/2 m motorhome coming in the opposite direction!
The Wild Atlantic Way roads are all reasonably good, however when we’ve been heading for somewhere to stay in the evenings we’ve often found ourselves on single-track roads, many of them having grass down the middle, and we frequently find ourselves cursing “Penny” our satnav for the route she picks. These are usually the roads used by the farmers tractors and it invariably means we have to clean the van again when we arrive covered in mud! One thing we have loved seeing has been the bright red Fuchsia hedgerows which line many of the roads in western Ireland and make for such a colourful journey.
On our last blog we said we’d been frustrated in our search for some traditional Irish music. We’re very happy that our search has now been fulfilled. We had an amazing night at “de Barras” in Clontakilty, and we’ve sat in many pubs other drinking much Guinness and cider, and enjoying some great music. Probably the most memorable however was a group of five musicians who sounded like they were all playing different tunes at the same time. It sounded dreadful but it was a lot of fun all the same.
We’ve had some fantastic wild stopovers along our journey. One of our favourites was this quiet little spot at Blackwater Pier, where we had our first success with the mackerel feathers! Fresh Mackerel for breakfast.
We’re now very much looking forward to the next phase of our journey along the cliffs coast, and especially the “Cliffs of Moher”
We’ve started using an app called Polarsteps, which tracks our route as we travel. We found this is a fantastic aid, and great for reminding us where we’ve been and the route we took. It runs in the background on your phone and it’s fantastic for anybody who wants to record a Journey. For anybody interested if you want to try out the app for yourselves, you can follow our journey here.