Ireland Road Trip Day 13 – Sat 23/4/2016

I woke to a glorious morning weatherwise (cold but sunny) and after a decent breakfast at Cregg House,  my b&b a couple of miles from Clifden, I was more than ready for my drive along Sky Road which I’d been looking forward to ever since following it on Google Street View back in Leeds.

This western loop out along the peninsula is only 13 miles long but the first half of it, to the turn, affords some of the most stunning views I enjoyed during the whole trip. The first part also splits into a high road and a low road and as I wanted views out over the Atlantic, I took the high road.

The amazing views started right away……..and what a spot to build your house !

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There were few cars on the road and for most of my drive, I had it all to myself. I was easily able to pull over to take photos and at one point there was a nice pull-in parking section with one of the helpful Wild Atlantic Way signs letting visitors like me know where we were.

One of the nicer views from a car park !

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My pre trip research had shown a minor spur at the turning point which led to a beach right at land’s end. So leaving the Sky Road I carefully drove for a few miles along a single track “path” and soon Dolphin Beach came into view.

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As these photos show, I had the whole area to myself and the beach was wonderful. The water was various shades of blue, almost Caribbean-like and the hard packed sand had no footprints but the ones I left. There were rocks and pools on both sides of the bay and I soon worked off my breakfast climbing over them to get better views.

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I even managed a selfie, looking imperiously over my Kingdom.

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After a couple of hours I headed back to rejoin the Sky Road for the drive back along the peninsula which wasn’t as spectacular as the first half, but decent nonetheless.

45 minutes later along the N59 I came to a causeway across Pollacapall Lough and spotted fabulous views on both sides. On the left was Kylemore Abbey which became a Benedictine monastery in 1920, founded by nuns who fled from Ypres in Belgium after WW1.

These were the views from the causeway, first looking right and then left towards the Abbey.

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You can just see the Kylemore Gothic Church, mostly hidden towards the right side of that last photo.

It really was the most stunning place to visit and a photographers dream. I was so pleased that the weather was helping to show it off to its best.

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Back on the road and the N59 was heading to the border between County Galway and County Mayo at the apex of one of the many inlets of the Atlantic. This is a view back down towards the open ocean just before the village of Leenaun.

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Half a mile north of Leenaun on the N59 and just before the county line, the road was hugging the inlet on the left. To the right I saw the small whitewashed Church of St. Michael’s and to the right was what could be the best view from a graveyard in Ireland…or anywhere else for that matter.

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Please…..no jokes about people dying to get buried there !

Just a few feet from the county line I came upon a pub, the Carraig Bar, and as it was almost 2pm, I fancied getting some takeaway food  and having a picnic somewhere nearby.

It was that sort of a day.

Apart from one regular in a corner with his head on the table and a half drunk pint beside it, the pub was empty and in fact it took some time for anyone to come to the bar to serve me. The owner (?) told me she wasn’t doing hot food but she could make me a sandwich…perfect. So I asked for a ham and tomato one and with my plentiful supply of Pepsi Max in the car, I set off again looking for a likely spot for my picnic.

I didn’t have to go far and seconds after crossing into County Mayo I left the N59, started along the R335 and when crossing a small bridge over the River Erriff, I saw Aasleagh Falls to the right and decided THAT was the place to have my picnic. There was a handy parking area nearby and within minutes I was on the river bank just short of the waterfall and ready to have my lunch in this most idyllic setting.

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I left just after 3:30pm and 10 minutes later I was at my next pre-determined stopping point – the Doolough Valley Famine Memorial along the R335.

Being at that beautiful spot on such a glorious sunny day, it was hard to imagine the tragic events that took place there 167 years previously.

You can read about them here.

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Turning to the right was a spectacular view down the valley to the small Glenullin Lough and beyond it, the much larger Doo Lough that gives the valley its name..

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As usual on this trip, I had the area to myself and was able to safely stand in the middle of the road and take photos.

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After enjoying this breathtaking scene for a while, a couple of cars did come down the other way. Both stopped and the passengers got out to take similar photos down the valley and then the cars drove off…..completely ignoring the monument a few feet to their left.

I thought that was pretty sad but maybe they’d been before and already knew all about the monument and what it commemorates. I hope so.

20 miles further along the R335, the road rejoined the N59 at Westport and I stayed on it for another 60 miles till I reached the small town of Bangor Erris (pop 500) where I decided to stay for the night.

Just on the eastern outskirts of the town I came upon Hillcrest House, a modern bungalow offering b&b for what was becoming the usual €40 rate.

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After settling in and chilling for a while, I walked back along the road and got a chicken and chips takeaway which I brought back and ate in the room. I watched a few shows on my laptop and as I was ready for this main part of the road trip to be over and I was close enough to the border with N. Ireland (100 miles) to be there on Monday, I rang my cousin in Magherafelt to ask if it would be ok to return a few days early and she was fine with that.

So I decided to drive to Dundoran in County Donegal the next day  (Sunday) as I knew it was a nice seaside resort and stay one last night in a b&b. From there it would only be 10 miles to the N. Ireland border at Belleek and a further 90 miles to Magherafelt.

Despite the wonderful road trip I’d had so far with the glorious weather and scenery, I needed a rest and was ready to be back with family.

The morning had been wonderful and I’d recommend that drive along the Sky Road to anyone.

But let’s face it, the rest of the day was pretty wonderful too.

And all it took was 103 miles !

Ireland Road Trip Day 12 – Fri 22/4/2016

Once again I’m starting a blog post with the words “it’s been a long time since my last post and………”

When I came onto this blank page I planned to say that I was not going to be creating day by day posts of my road trips anymore because it was very time consuming to edit the photos and write the details of my daily drives. This is even more relevant now as I went on a 3 week Euro trip in September and took over 1500 photos so the idea of finishing the Ireland blog from last April and then starting on the Euro blog was daunting.

So I’d decided that as I still wanted to blog, I’d just write about…..stuff……and throw in the occasional photo to break up the text.

Then I went back to the last post I published and looking at it, I kinda got the bug to continue what I’d started for a change. So with much less editing and fewer details about road numbers and whether I turned left or right at junctions, here I go again with Day 12 and my first visit to The Cliffs of Moher.

Still in Co. Clare, I left the slightly bizarre Barkers Spanish Point b&b at 10am, headed north and was at the car park by 10:25. The cliffs are the No.1 tourist destination in Ireland garnering over a million visitors a year and so I was expecting to have to pay a fair bit for both parking and walking along the cliff top. Not so.  Entry to both the huge car park, the visitor centre and the walks along the cliff was a very reasonable €6 for adults and when I saw it was only €4 for seniors, that was for me !

It was only later that I discovered that at the Cliffs of Moher, a senior was 65 or older. Oops.

Anyhoo, I was in and after parking I made my way across the road to the entrance.

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Just beyond the entrance were souvenir shops but like the visitor centre, these had been built into the hillsides, Hobbit like, to minimise their footprint. This is a still from the video I took of the area……..

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The shops are on the right and on the left is the visitor centre which you go through to begin the walks along the cliff edge.

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As I didn’t need to make use of the facilities or buy even more souvenirs, I went straight out to the path leading up to O’Brien’s Tower and the start of the cliff edge paths. The tower was built in 1835 by the forward thinking landowner who saw the potential for tourism and built the tower to provide great panoramic views.

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As I’ve said many times in the past, when confronted with a junction, I always take the left option if it’s a 50/50 choice. I’m left handed so it always seems the natural choice.

Except here. The views to the right seemed better so I guess as it wasn’t exactly 50/50, my record remains safe !

As it was 11am and the cliffs are on the west coast, they were mostly in shadow.

Top Tip : best time to visit the cliffs would be just before sunset but the downside would be being blinded by the sun !  A boat trip would be the best choice.

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At this point the path was 214 metres above the Atlantic and for the next few hours it was a case of walking a few metres, stopping to admire the views, taking a few photos, walking a bit further, stopping to……well you get the idea.

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The path really hugged the edge and in many places, as you can see on the left of the photo above, you can stand right on the edge – if you have no fear of heights and you know that the outcrop is well supported. There were several outcrops that looked inviting to walk out along but as you approached them from the path, you could see they had no real support (apart from being a metre thick) and then there was a 200m drop to the sea.

It would have been like walking the plank and often a cracked plank at that !

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There was one section with signage warning people not to go to the edge and looking at the narrow stone platform and all the huge cracks on it, I wasn’t surprised.

The people on the cliff top path give scale in this next photo.

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In this one, I’m not sure if  she’s holding on to him or about to push him over !

Rest easy…..it was the former.

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I probably only walked about 3 miles on the round trip but I still spent 4 hours there as the place was so special. Although I’d only taken my phone (camera) with me on this trip, I was pleased with the results despite not having much of a zoom. I did have my binoculars though and as the cliffs are home to about 30,000 birds, there was plenty to see.

The cliffs have also featured in movies like The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. They were also the last resting place for most of Dusty Springfield’s ashes – she apparently loved the area and made the request before her death on the 2nd March 1999.

So by mid afternoon I was back outside the visitor centre and spent a while eating my   sandwich and watching tourists disembarking from numerous coaches to take in the views. Sadly many of them never made it beyond the steps up to the tower either due to physical limitations, time constraints or just out and out indifference.

I overheard “see one cliff you’ve seen them all” a few times from, I have to say, senior American tourists who just looked for a few minutes and then headed back to their coaches – ticking another box on their bucket lists no doubt.

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After all that exercise and fresh air, I wanted an early night so decided to look for a b&b once I’d driven through Galway, 50 miles away.

Not long after leaving the city, I entered the Connemara region of Co. Galway and the scenery was spectacular with the N59 passing by numerous lakes and loughs with mountain ranges providing perfect backdrops.

By now it was 18:30 and I didn’t want to go beyond Clifden as that was the start of the Sky Road loop which I’d been looking forward to exploring at leisure and wanted to do that the following day. So when I saw a lovely looking b&b just 2 miles from the town, I stopped and got a room for €40.

What a gem it was. A beautiful house, a stunning location and a view from my bed that made that €40 a steal.

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Inside was pretty good as well and that view…..

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I drove into town for supper but I’ve no record of where I went. I just know it was somewhere on Market Street and I enjoyed the dessert.

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Back at the b&b I watched a few TV shows on the laptop and read a bit about the route I was to take the next day……and it looked wonderful.

Hopefully I’ll get round to blogging about it soon !

 

Ireland Road Trip Day 11 – Thu 21/4/2016

Ok so doing a road trip post every 2 weeks just isn’t going to cut it so I’ll try and step things up as I’ve another 3 week European road trip approaching soon.

Anyway back to 21st April and I said I’d mention the overnight b&b on this post as the previous post was getting too long already. It was the Clonmara in Dingle and what a gem it was. Once again it was €40 and the house and the location were just wonderful, overlooking Dingle Bay and just a short walk into town.

I don’t know if each room was individually colour coded but I was clearly given the “lavender room” which suited me perfectly as I love lavender, admittedly for the smell rather than the colour.

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What a bathroom ! There was even a little toilet for your pet….or to wash your feet.  How thoughtful.

And these were the views from the room with Dingle just across the bay.

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The lavender theme even made it into the bathroom as there was lavender shower gel and lavender hand wash.

I noticed they came from Dunne’s Stores (an Irish based supermarket chain with locations in Norn Iron and the UK (including Leeds) but I was glad I bought some of these lavender products before I returned as when I checked later, the locations at home didn’t sell them.

Breakfast was as good as everything else about the b&b and I’d highly recommend it if you are touring this part of Ireland. The view from the breakfast room was the same as from my bedroom and as I was the only guest, I had a lovely relaxed meal that set me up for the day ahead.

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I set off at 9:45am with the plan to drive south and west to the tip of the Dingle peninsula at Slea Head and then return to Dingle along the north of the peninsula completing a clockwise drive of only 24 miles but I was hoping the scenery would cause me to stop many times – in the end it took me almost 2 hrs to get back to Dingle !

The whole drive was on the R559, the famous Slea Head Drive and despite the overcast skies, it was stunning. The guide books suggest going anti-clockwise but as I’ve said before, I much prefer seeing views to my left and stuck to my clockwise plan.

It was only 10 miles to Slea Head and the “Cross at Slea Head” was my first stopping point. I’ve no idea why this life size calvary scene was constructed but its location may hold a clue. The shoreline at this point is particularly rocky and several ships have come a cropper over the centuries so maybe this calvary site was constructed as some sort of warning cum memorial.

Yeah, a bit of a stretch I know but in the absence of any other explanation………

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In the 2nd photo you can see how the location really is on a sharp curve where the R559 turns from going west and starts northwards.

As an aside, this road was shown in all its beauty on a recent episode of Top Gear when presenters Chris Evans drove his own 1976 Rolls Royce Cornishe and Matt LeBranc drove the new £250k Rolls Royce Dawn from Dingle and I was happy to see they were going anti clockwise too. Great minds eh ?  As their report made use of helicopter (or maybe a drone) footage, I’m keeping the episode as part of my holiday memories as it was amazing !  If you can catch it , it’s Series 23 episode 5.

The next 1.5 miles along the R559 after the “calvary curve” (catchy eh ?) were as stunning as any I’d seen so far. The way the road hugged the coastline reminded me of the A2 near my old school in Norn Iron, the Antrim coast road. If anything, this was more spectacular as there were mountains to break up the horizon. Yet again I loved having the time to park up and take in these views as I’d no b&b booking to rush towards. Best decision I’d made before setting off.  Given the number of b&bs, you’ll NEVER be stuck for somewhere to stay every night. Admittedly it would be more difficult in high season but even so………

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I stayed long enough that the streaky clouds returned when I started off again but it was still bright enough to show off the scenery almost to its best. Here are a few more images from this 1.5 mile part of the R559. The middle photo shows the ruins of some “famine houses” which are stark reminders of the dark days in the middle of the 19th century when blight decimated the potato crops, the staple food back in those days.  Over a million died and another million emigrated to America, thus lowering the population of Ireland by 20%-25%.

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I’ve mentioned that this part of the route was only 1.5 miles and I say that because at that point there was a sign for a beach and I was more than ready for a beach.

I later learned it was Coumeenoole Strand and was used as a location in the 1970 movie, Ryan’s Daughter. In fact this whole area around the Dingle Peninsula also featured in the slightly more modern movie, Far and Away starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

As I turned off the R559 I knew nothing about this cinematic history and I initially stopped at a parking area overlooking the beach, also seen in that Top Gear episode where the 2 presenters got out of their Rolls Royces and sat at a nearby picnic table (enjoying a lovely sunset) to discuss the merits of the two cars they’d been driving. Given the cost and size of those cars, I’m not surprised they drove no further on that narrow road but I did. It went down around a curve and headed right down to the beach.

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The above photo is a still from a video I took from the beach looking back to the road I came down. It drops from the top left and comes to a dead end almost at the edge of the sand but given the way the water swept around, you’d be very foolish to try and drive onto the beach. In fact when I was walking along that section to the right, the beach was like quicksand and my non waterproof shoes lived up to their description !

Here are some more stills from the phone videos I took and the first one shows how close a car can get to the beach as the steep paved road ends in a short, rough, uneven section. I carefully reversed back to the rock face so I could look out over the beach and then went walkies.

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I spent over an hour on the beach before another car came down the road and 4 people disturbed my solitude. How very dare they !

The contrast was amazing.  One way lay the lovely pristine beach with soft sand broken up with jagged rocks and numerous sheltered inlets (perfect for summer picnics or even bbqs)  and the other way lay a craggy coastline with enormous waves breaking over treacherous outcrops.

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Back up on the R559 I continued north and before the road turned east and back down towards Dingle, there was time for one more stop to enjoy the view.

It really is a lovely part of the world and it was with some reluctance that I left my seat on this rock and drove on.

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I arrived back in Dingle at noon and drove right past the b&b where I’d stayed the previous night. I also got the chance to drive through the colourful streets (well the houses and shops were colourful and not the actual streets) of the town before continuing northeast to go over the Conor Pass on the way to Tralee.

I’d read about this Pass (the R560) before leaving Leeds and so I knew from Google’s Street View that it would be scenic. The initial climb was certainly spectacular and my little underpowered Clio didn’t like it at all.  Although still climbing to the peak at 1,496ft, the gradient became easier and the views down to the valley below became more spectacular.

It was basically a single track road and if you met a car coming the other way, one of you had to find a narrow pull in area to let the other pass.  A pass on the pass if you like !

Suit yourselves.

In this still from the in car GoPro you can see there is a car up ahead. We both pulled in and after a bit of back and forth headlight flashing, he stayed put and I passed him.

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It’s hard to appreciate the drop down on the left so here is a better view I took by pulling onto the side of the road and jumping out to take a quick snap. I didn’t really need to rush as that car was the only one I met on the way to the summit.

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At the top there was a viewpoint with plenty of room for cars. In this photo you can see the road going off to the left before it sloped down for the return drive to ground level.

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The Pass is only about 8 miles long and at that point I left the R560 as I came to Ballyhoneen and a sign that promised much but delivered…not so much. It was the only time on the whole trip that I felt I’d wasted my time.

The sign said Brandon Point and I could see on the GPS that it was a dead end route that would take me 7 miles to the northern tip of the peninsula. The drive wasn’t bad but I did hit a detour that took me onto a farm track…..a road so narrow that my wing mirrors constantly hit the hedges on both sides. Thank God it was such an off the main trail type place that I never saw another vehicle.  Even a bike couldn’t have squeezed past me !

So it took a while to get to Brandon Point and when I got there……it simply WAS a dead end at a cliff face. There was a sign showing all the birds you could possibly see if you waited long enough but I wasn’t going to wait even a minute and made the return trip mumbling to myself and thinking it should have been called Brandon Pointless.

Back on the R560 and after 11 miles it joined the N86 heading towards Tralee but just before the town, I was getting hungry but didn’t want to stop for lunch. At Blennerville, I came to a Texaco petrol station which had a Gala shop and after fueling the car, I bought two sandwiches intending to eat one, or both, somewhere along the road.

I was heading inland for a while as I was going 32 miles north to Tarbert to catch a ferry across the Shannon estuary from Co.Kerry to Co.Clare. This would save me a dull 80 mile drive up one side of the estuary to Limerick and then back down the other side and as I’d no wish to stop in Limerick, I was happy to take the 20 minute crossing instead.

The ferry departed every hour on the half hour and by not stopping to eat in Tralee, I got to Tarbert at 3:15pm so only had a 15 minute wait. I used the time to stretch my legs and then sat on a bench to eat one of my sandwiches, watching the ferry arriving.

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It was a simple roll on roll off ferry and because I didn’t buy my ticket online for the 10% discount, I had to pay the full €18 which seemed a bit steep for a 20 minute crossing. That would equate to €216 for the Dover-Dunkirk return crossing I’ve just paid for…..which actually cost me €65. Never mind, it was a cool ferry crossing and a first for me in Ireland.

You can tell which of these photos came from the dash mounted GoPro !

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There were just two passenger walkways on each side of the Shannon Breeze’s car deck where we all spent the 20 minute crossing looking at the water, our watches and the approaching land. Soon enough I was in Co. Clare and heading along the N67 on the start of the 30 mile (40 mins) drive to Loop Head lighthouse which, surprise surprise, stands white and proud at the end of the Loop Head peninsula.

In 2010 the peninsula was granted a European Destination of Excellence award which is an EU accolade “for emerging tourism destinations which are developing in a responsible and sustainable manner. ” In 2013, Loop Head was named the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland” by The Irish Times and was shortlisted in the Best Destination category at the World Responsible Tourism awards. The Loop Head Peninsula is the only Irish destination listed in the 2014 Global Sustainable Top 100 Destinations and in 2015 took the Gold medal at the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards.

I mention all this because I find it hard to believe, although I’m really talking about the lighthouse part of the peninsula and to be fair, it’s not specifically mentioned as being anything special at all. Just as well because when I got there at 4:40pm, there wasn’t a soul about and the impressive ticket kiosk was closed up.

Well I didn’t want to go up their stupid lighthouse anyway.  And I saved €5.

There was a wall around the area but I was able to hold the phone over it and take a snap.

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I then walked along the side of the wall to the right, towards the cliff edge. The ground was very marshy and I could feel my feet getting wet again.  They’d only just dried out from the “quicksand” earlier and not for the first time, I cursed the Sports Direct salesman who encouraged me to buy the walking shoes in the first place.

He managed to keep the “as long as you walk on dry ground” bit a well guarded store secret.

No selfie stick was used in the taking of these following photos. I was just werry, werry brave (and not foolish at all) and was teetering on the cliff edge.

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I returned to the ticket booth but it was still deserted so with a heavy heart, I left the lighthouse unclimbed (another bucket list failure) and set off to find a b&b close to The Cliffs of Moher, my destination tomorrow and only 47 miles from the lighthouse.

As I was going along the N67 just beyond Doonbeg, I came upon the imposing entrance to Trump International Golf Club………….

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As there was no barrier at this point, I decided to see how far I could go towards the clubhouse before I was challenged……or came to one of his infamous walls !

I drove and drove and felt I’d soon be in another county. Then a hotel and clubhouse complex came into view and I entered the car park.

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There was a security guy in a golf cart sitting in one of the parking bays and I drove up and said I was passing and wondered if there was any chance I could get a scorecard or some “memento” of the place. Amazingly he told me to follow him and off he went in his buggy. I drove after him and once through that archway, he pointed ahead and he went off in a different direction.

I found myself at the hotel entrance but went in anyway and had a quick look around. I asked the lady at reception about a scorecard and not surprisingly she suggested I try the clubhouse…..except she thought it would be closed now. Wondering why the security guy had sent me to the hotel, I walked back to the car. In my haste to go into the hotel without being challenged I’d left my driver’s side window open and there on the seat I saw a scorecard, a pencil with the club name on it and a big glossy brochure all about the complex !

What a nice security guy. I hoped to find him on my way out to thank him but never saw him again.

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Back out on the main road I started looking for a b&b as it was almost 6:30pm and a few miles further on and only 14 miles from The Cliff of Moher I came upon Barkers B&B at Spanish Point.

It was run by Philomena Barker and her husband but I can’t remember his name. He was originally from London and was a Chelsea supporter but I didn’t hold that against him. The place was, lets say, quirky, with lots of clutter everywhere and a layout that defied any sort of logic. It was as if every room had been added over the years with scant thought to a master plan.  Despite showing €50 for a single, I was given a room for the now standard €40.

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Barkers B&B Bedroom

When Philomena started recommending eating places nearby, I said I was exhausted and just wanted to stay in the room, watch a movie on my laptop and have my 2nd sandwich for supper.  Despite having the tea/coffee making kit you see in the photo, she insisted bringing me a fresh pot of tea and some cakes and biscuits to pad out the sandwich.

How kind.

And I repaid her kindness by spilling my full cup of tea all over the tray, onto that glass cover and finally onto the white cloth……which then became a not so white cloth. I wiped the tray and the glass cover and with the table moved round so the soiled part of the cloth was towards the wall, it was all sorted !

Sometimes it pays to pay cash and not leave a trail.

What a day. It had a bit of everything and I drifted off to sleep hoping for good weather tomorrow for my first ever visit to The Cliffs of Moher, the most visited destination in Ireland and as it turned out, the best deal on the whole trip !

Today’s Rant – Holiday Insurance

Now one of the many aspects of being a senior citizen is that it’s pretty much expected that you’ll find something to complain about on a regular basis. Of course I recognise that complaining is not exclusively reserved for us seniors as the act of complaining spreads over the whole age range from birth to death….yes I’m pretty sure it ends with death although after death people often feel the need to complain about YOU !

But that’s for another time….and post.

One downside to age related complaining is that when you become “old”,  younger people on the receiving end of the complaining just switch off and ignore you and if this complaining is being done over a phone, you just know they’re checking their text messages, painting their toe nails or reading the latest copy of “The Idiots Guide to S&M” waiting for you to become exhausted and go off for your mid afternoon nap.

Tip : never ring to complain around 2pm or you’ll wake up 2 hrs later with a crick in your neck , drool all over the phone and no idea what you were complaining about or more importantly, why you have a warm damp feeling down your leg.

I went through some sort of character epiphany several years ago when I changed from being a mild mannered Clark Kent clone who wouldn’t have said boo to a goose (actually who would…..those buggers have anger issues ?) to a Superman clone except with no super powers.  Just…..man really.

“with great age comes great complaining responsibility”

Now if I’m not happy with anything from the quality of my restaurant food to the height of a product on a supermarket shelf…..I’ll complain.  And the great thing is that when you do that face to face as a senior, you get instant results. It’s brilliant.  The restaurant food gets taken back to the kitchen to be reheated/recooked or whatever and  a supermarket staff member who plays part time in the NBA will happily get me the product from the top shelf.

Again I’d expect that to be the case for everyone who complains but I’ve found it happens with more willingness and grace now that I’m a senior. For one thing the food doesn’t return with odd little bubbles on the meat with a distinct flavour of stale cigarette and Listerine ! Know what I’m saying ?

Anyway back on topic and today my complaint cum rant is about holiday insurance and although not  confined to seniors, we do tend to bear the brunt of the injustices given that we’ve usually accumulated a fair amount of excess medical baggage along the path of our lives.

Now from the get go I understand how insurance companies work and it’s obvious that if a senior goes off to climb Everest they’ll probably be more likely to be making an insurance claim than some fit young thing in their 20’s or 30’s. Fair enough. Let’s face it, if you can shatter your hip trying to get the top off a Boost bottle, chances are the insurance company will be paying out a few bob if (when) you fall down the plane steps at Tenzing-Hillary airport.

So they load up the premiums accordingly. Again, fair enough as long as these hikes aren’t so much that they mean the holiday has to be scrubbed.

My complaint is about that dreaded category on holiday insurance forms, namely the pre-existing medical condition.

Now back in Nov 1992 I had a heart attack. It wasn’t a chest clutching, pain ridden episode and in fact I felt little discomfort and my GP at the time decided it was a pulled neck muscle due to a strenuous game of badminton and I was at work the next day. Skip forward several weeks and with no change in my situation I went private, was tested, was told I had had a heart attack and in March 1993, I had a quintuple CABG or “cabbage” as it is known.

It all went well and after about 16 weeks recuperation which included a 3 week trip to California, I was good as new and only had a couple of pills to take daily for the rest of my life.

On July 20th 2005 I had my 2nd heart attack.

This was even less dramatic than the first and I took myself off to A&E as I knew the symptoms and was immediately admitted, given the overnight blood test and told that yes, indeed, I had had another heart attack. This time no surgery was advised (advice that I happily agreed with) and my meds were simply expanded to 5 a day..for the rest of my life.

That was 11 years ago and I’ve had no heart related issues, or any other issues, since.

But I’m classed as having an ongoing medical condition which becomes a pre-existing medical condition as far as holiday insurance is concerned. When I was going annually to America for 6 months at a time, my insurance policy cost more than the plane tickets. Things are a bit better now that I mostly holiday within the EU but filling in the damn form is still a nightmare as one inadvertent omission can lead to invalidation when making a claim.

For several years between 2001 and 2010 I used Endsleigh Insurance as their medical screening questions basically asked if I’d visited my GP in the last 6 months and if I could walk 50 metres on flat ground without getting out of breath ?  I’d answer NO and YES and I’d be covered for a fair premium…still close to the flight ticket cost but then again, I was going for 6 months.

These days I can’t use Endsleigh as they’ve changed their rules and although they claim to still cover pre-existing conditions, they now have a list of conditions they won’t cover and the list is a long one. In fact they’ve helpfully got a list of conditions they WILL cover and this list is very short.

When I saw that acne was on the short list, I knew I needed to move on.

Next I used the good old Martin Lewis site (www.moneysavingexpert.com) and found out that the free EHIC card I always carry with me on European holidays has a big brother called EHIC Plus which for a fee, provides more medical cover, non medical cover and has options for pre-existing medical conditions. I was off to the site like a shot.

At first everything went swimmingly. After the usual questions about the holiday dates, my age and so on, I came to the medical section and took a deep breath. First up I had to state my pre-existing condition(s) and I’m never sure what to put exactly. I picked “heart attack” and this brought up about 20 further questions which were simple enough to answer and I was happy to see most didn’t want to go back further than 6 months or 2 years at most.  At the end, the premium for an annual policy including outpatient cover, was £44 which I thought was brilliant. Basically it wasn’t any more than the regular insurance so finally I wasn’t being penalised for something that happened over a decade ago.

But before continuing,  I rang them to make sure I hadn’t overlooked anything and after telling my story, was told I needed to add my CABG as a separate “condition” !  What ?  Why ?  I did the quote procedure again, added the CABG and got a similar set of extra questions and at the end, the premium had doubled.  Doubled because of a surgery I had 23 years ago which had NO impact on my having a 2nd heart attack in any case.

I looked back at the questions I’d been initially asked regarding the heart attack and this was one of them……..

Have you ever had an Angiogram (Cardiac Catheter) or Angioplasty (Balloon) or Heart Bypass surgery?

I’d said YES to this and took the follow up option of “more than 2 years ago” as the best choice. So my complaint is…..why would I then need to include CABG as a separate condition, incurring a doubling of the premium ?  I’d already told them I’d had a CABG after all.

So tomorrow I’ll put this reasonable question to them and make sure they know I’m in that select group of complainers that need to be taken seriously. Sadly I’m not sure that’ll wash with an insurance company.

After this post I plan on going in again and adding acne as a 3rd condition; I bet the premium goes up to £132 !

One thing’s for sure; I can’t afford to tell them about my ingrowing toe nail.

 

Ireland Road Trip Day 10 – Wed 20/4/2016

Ok so lets forget the passage of time and carry on as if I wrote the previous post yesterday.

Agreed ?  Oh and I’ve managed to track down the name of the b&b from YESTERDAY’S POST so I’ve not wasted that time !

Right….say no more about it and away we go.

Having having had a lovely breakfast at the River Valley Farmhouse  (see ?)  just off the N22 and chatted with a young French couple at the next table who were touring Ireland with the cutest baby in the whole world ever, I set off at 9:35am and was approaching Killarney on the R876 about 10 minutes later.

And 5 minutes after that I was out the other side !  Remember, for the most part, I’m not a town/city person.  I could see it was a very touristy place with jaunting cars for hire to transport visitors around the various locations and even part of the way into the National Park where these jaunting thingies were based.

What’s a jaunting car I hear you ask ?  Well to save you using Google, here is one in Killarney……

Jaunting Car

If a Wild West stagecoach and a gypsy caravan ever got it together, a jaunting car would be the result !

A few miles along the N71 I entered Killarney National Park and I was expecting great things from this part of the road trip and my expectations were exceeded from the start.

First up I saw a sign for Torc Waterfalls and never one to pass up a glimpse of a waterfall, I parked up and went for an explore. I immediately loved Torc as I could hear it from the car park. Three minutes after locking up, I was standing by the waterfall in all its glory and at that time in the morning, I had it all to myself.

Once again my memory has played tricks on me as I thought it was more impressive than the photographic evidence would suggest.  Oh well, I still loved the idea of only having to walk a short distance from the car so it’ll still be on my Top 10 waterfalls list…..and probably it’ll go up that list as I get older !

And another point in its favour – it’s wheelchair accessable and how many waterfalls can you say that about ?

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3 minutes drive further on and things got more scenic by a factor of a zillion as I came upon the single most stunning sight on the whole trip.

And initially I drove past it !

I’d already seen a few small pull off areas on the right side of the road and I could see there was water beyond them so when I came upon another one, I just kept going. Thankfully I glanced back and did a double take (not advisable when driving) and slammed on the brakes. I reversed back and pulled into the car park area which could hold about 10 cars and this was the view before me through the windscreen.

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The only thing to have made this even more stunning would have been a sprinkling of snow on those distant mountain tops and the hill on the right.

Once out of the car and able to take in the whole location, I think I took about 30 photos and I make no apologies for including several of them here. The first one below is my favourite and looking at them now, I’m taken back to that location and the 45 minutes that I spent there. There were never more than a handful of people I had to share it with and at times, I had it all to myself. It was wonderful and I just sat on a rock and took it all in at my leisure.

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Having had the advantage of driving beyond the location already, I knew there was a lovely view literally just a few paces down the road but on the left side, so I walked there and enjoyed that location as well. 

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What an area and yet I noticed lots of cars driving by without even knowing about the view they’d missed. I’d almost been one of them.

The road (N71) then climbed steeply until I came to a lookout point called Ladies View, stemming from the admiration of the view by Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit.

Is this blog educational or what ?  And yes that was rhetorical.

I parked up and took this photo looking back down to the stunning lakes I’d just left. It’s really impossible to tell from it but the rock part in the foreground is almost like a natural diving board and once out at the end, it falls away several hundred feet down to the lake level. I walked slowly out to the end but as the wind was blowing me about, I didn’t stay for long !

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On the other side of the road was a classic tourist sign just begging to be photographed – so I did. When checking it on Google Maps for this blog post, I noticed that some naughty person had turned it around as it should be pointing to the right, towards the road, which makes more sense really.

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As the “little people” are easily confused, I hope the sign has been put back the right way by now.

It was only a few minutes to the park exit but at 10 miles, it has to be the best short stretch of road in the whole of Ireland.

Then I headed towards Kenmare but turned onto the N70 just before the town and properly started out along the Ring of Kerry.

The road was very scenic but considering the fame it gets, I felt that Beara, peninsula wise,  was far better.

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About 45 miles along this road from the park I came to the small (pop 538) town of Waterville and as it was almost 2pm, I was more than ready for lunch. I went right through the town…..it didn’t take long……and found an eatery called the Beachcove Cafe which sounded promising.

It was.

Just outside the cafe was the Butler Arms Hotel which meant nothing to me at the time but did later on. I had a simple lunch of a hot dog and chips (but left most of the chips as they gave me way too many) and then drove back through the town as I’d noticed a statue back along the promenade and wanted to see who it was commemorating.

It was Charlie Chaplin !

It seems Chaplin visited the town in 1959 when he was 70 and liked the place so much that he returned every year for the following 10 years and that got him a statue !  He always stayed at the Butler Arms Hotel but sadly he wouldn’t have had a hot dog at the Beachcove Cafe as it wasn’t there back then.

His loss.

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As Chaplin was 5ft 5ins (1.65m), either the statue is not life size or else I’m a LOT shorter than I think I am.  Anyway he’s the one on the left.

Back on the N70 and 8 miles north of Waterville I turned left onto the R565 for the 7 mile drive to the bridge at Portmagee over to Valentia Island. The island is 7 miles long by 2 miles wide with a population of 665.

And apart from the recommendation in my guide book (thanks again to the tourist office Bantry) I knew nothing about it at all. I crossed the bridge with no clue where I was going but I followed the road that hugged the coastline despite it narrowing at every junction until I was basically on a single track path. I looked across the water and noticed 2 distinct islands on the horizon and commented on the GoPro footage that one looked like a woman’s breast complete with nipple ! (I guess my memory’s not that bad after all)

Here is a still from that GoPro footage (I was using the camera as a dash cam on this road trip) and I’ve arrowed the two islands on the left………..

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I came upon a paved car park that overlooked the water so I pulled in with the intention of taking a break before heading back to the bridge and resuming my drive along “The Ring”.

Here is another GoPro still………….with the islands still on the horizon..

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I pulled in and parked between those cars on the distant left and went out to stretch my legs. I met a couple who knew the area well and they told me the 2 islands were the Skellig Islands, 7 miles off land, and the larger one was called Skellig Michael.

Due to it having the ruins of a 6th century monastery on it, the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 – so many locals were not happy when it was used as a location in the latest Star Wars movie…….in the final scene when Rey (Daisy Ridley) climbs to the top and we finally see an aged Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).   It will also feature in the next installment of the saga but it’ll always be Nipple Island to me !

I returned to the mainland and drove the 7 miles along the R565 to rejoin the N70 and continue north on the Ring of Kerry.  The road was spectacular with mountains on one side and the North Atlantic on the other and even when the road did veer away from the water for a while, the scenery was still worth seeing. Here are 2 more GoPro stills…….

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At one point the view reminded me of the famous Pacific Coast HWY  (US1) as you approach San Francisco from the south and for a few seconds it was hard to remember I was in Ireland.

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About 35 miles from the Valentia Bridge at Portmagee I came to the outskirts of Killorglin and got stuck in the first and only roadworks I encountered on the entire trip. It must have taken 30 mins to move a few dozen yards and after that there were diversions so I got myself a bit lost and it took me a while to get back onto the N70.

6 miles from Killorglin I left the N70 at Castlemaine and took the R561 as I had completed the Ring of Kerry and was starting along the Dingle peninsula.

12 miles along the R561 I saw a sign for Inch Beach so I decided to stop there to stretch my legs and get some exercise. As I got closer I could see that I could drive right onto the beach so I left the road and joined a few other cars that had parked on the hard packed sand.

Eat your heart out Daytona Beach !

Here is an image of the approach to the beach taken from Google Maps……..

Inch Beach

It was just after 5pm so I had plenty of time to go for a long walk along the beach before setting off for the short drive to Dingle and then to find a b&b for the night.

Inch beach is a slight misnomer as it’s 3 miles long !  I didn’t fancy a 6 mile round trip so I walked for 1.5 miles (I used the MapMyWalk app on my phone) and then returned. That was enough for me as walking on sand, even hard packed sand, is more taxing than on a solid surface.

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It was a lovely early evening walk but I was ready to find a b&b in nearby Dingle and then get something to eat.

And did I strike lucky with the b&b !  I liked the look of the Clonmara within walking distance of the town centre but I’ll say more about it on the next blog post as this one is long enough already. I think they’ve let themselves down a bit with their web site which doesn’t concentrate enough on their fantastic b&b and instead seems to be mostly a promo for the area. When 103 out of 112 reviews on TripAdvisor are “excellent”, you know it’s a great place and for €40, it was a bargain. If you have time and want a laugh, checkout the plonker from Chicago who gave them an “average” rating and who clearly doesn’t get the concept of a European b&b.

After settling in I got a couple of restaurant suggestions from Michael, the owner, but I decided to ignore them as I noticed Murphy’s pub was very busy with people waiting to get a table.  Always a good sign. I only had to wait a few minutes before a 2 place table became available and I had a wonderful roast beef meal and after that hot dog and chips at Waterville many hours earlier, I was more than ready for it.

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I had a walk around the town and then the harbour and back at Clonmara I watched a couple of tv shows on the laptop but after all that exercise and driving I was quite tired so was in bed and asleep before midnight.

I’d only driven 159 miles but with so much stopping and starting, I had been in the car a long time so it seemed like 359 !

And I’d loved every mile.

 

Ireland Road Trip Day 9 – Tue 19/4/2016

Well it’s been 3 weeks since my last confession…I mean blog post…..and after a bit of a break, I’m ready to delve back into my notes, photographs and memories and return to my road trip around the coast of Ireland. It seems so long ago and yet it was only 2 months since I was about to set off !

Anyway my last post (no trumpets please) had taken us to the start of Day 9 and I was waking up at the Jo-Al bed and breakfast just outside Bantry in Co. Cork. It was a lovely b&b, the breakfast was wonderful and I was the only guest there.

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I usually didn’t get 3 sausages and 3 rashers of bacon but by this time on the trip I was being very specific with my breakfast choices (no puddings or beans or hash browns etc) so I guess I was getting the benefit of asking for less but getting more of what I wanted !  Win, win, as my cardiologist would say !

At 9:50am I set off for the very short drive to Bantry where I parked by the large town square and had a walk around the town. When I say square, it was nothing like a square in shape as it had been created by “filling in” the shallow narrow harbour and can be clearly seen on this aerial photo I took by connecting my GoPro to a balloon.

Or I might have pinched it off the internet.  Can’t remember now.

Bantry

As you can see, the town is very compact so it didn’t take long to walk around it and the square, or plaza, was very pretty indeed.

Here are some views of Bantry Bay and the plaza.

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The weather was glorious and quite warm and I set off to drive around the Beara Peninsula to the tip at Lambs Head where I’d come to Dursey Island with its cable car. This was only a 44 mile drive but the scenery was so beautiful that I kept stopping to take photos and video and so it took me 2 hrs.

The road would climb up to an almost moors type landscape and then back down to more typical green fields with cliffs and water views everywhere but of course I was on the R572 hugging the coast so was never very far from the ocean. Sadly it clouded over just before noon but that didn’t dampen my spirits and the drive was brilliant.

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At one point when I’d stopped and was taking a photo out the window, this little fellow came nervelessly towards me and I was greedily waiting till he came even closer before taking a photo but his mum called to him and I just managed to snap this image as he was turning around to run back to her.

I think he was the cleanest lamb I’d ever seen.

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Just 2 miles from the tip of the peninsula, there was a narrow road branching off to the left with signs for Garinish Beach so for the sake of a mile there and back, I went exploring. This road didn’t have a number but if you’re ever in the area and you see a sign for Garinish…..take it.

On the way down to the beach I came upon a lovely view of the ocean and as often happens in Ireland, there was a donkey in my field of view…..in a field !  I’d stopped by a gate and the inquisitive donkey came to check me out.  This led to his pal coming across too and in minutes I had 2 new friends who just wanted to be fussed over.

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Time for a selfie and here’s me making an ass of myself with my new friend.

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Down on the beach and it wasn’t exactly a sandy paradise as the “sand” was grey and volcanic looking – a bit like some of the Hawaiian beaches but with very different views. Here are two images of the beach…..the first one is from above showing the grey sand and then a still from the phone video I took showing the rocks from the right side of the beach.

I like rocks on a beach !

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Garinish Beach

Back up on the R572 and it was time to drive the 2 miles to the end of the Beara peninsula and to see the cable car that would take visitors over to Dursey Island. There were only a few cars parked up when I got there and that was down to the fact that it was a long way to go if you weren’t touring the peninsula and also, the next cable car wasn’t due to cross for some time.

I thought it ran continuously !  I hadn’t researched it very well as I never planned on going across to the island anyway.

 

As the timetable showed there would be no cable car for over an hour, I went down the slope to the rocks to get closer to Dursey Island. It was pretty spectacular as the weather had improved and the view across was wonderful.

This is a still from the video I took.  By the way, I haven’t uploaded any of the video I took as I have a space limit on WordPress and even a 1 minute video clip takes up the same space as about 100 photos.

Dursey Island

Not wanting to wait to see a cable car going across, I set off to return along the top of the Beara peninsula towards Killarney and this meant starting off on the R572 again for a few miles but then going onto the R575 which again was a wonderfully scenic road. I went over Dales type landscapes, beaches, steep climbs and steeper descents and it was all glorious as the weather continued to be blue skies and sunshine.

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At one point, near Allihies, I saw a single track road leading to Ballydonegan Beach so of course I had to check it out. At the time I didn’t know the name but I’ve since found the turnoff on Street View and there was a sign I’d missed.

It was my sort of beach.  Lovely soft sand, a few rocks to break things up, high dunes and best of all, I had it to myself.

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Back up on the R575 and it was only 10 miles till it became the R571 and if anything, the scenery went up a notch.

I think the best images were taken by the GoPro which I had fixed to the dashboard of the car for the whole road trip and here are a series of stills from that video footage to show just how spectacular the R571 was that day.

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The video footage was better of course but like I said before, space is at a premium on here.

Sadly that has to be it for Day 9 because for some reason, I’ve no records of where I stayed that night and I’ve no photos either. When I was downloading my photos and video each night, I had to move files around several internal and external hard drives, 3 flashdrives and one SD card so things got a bit messed up and daily downloads were all over the place.

I can’t imagine not taking ANY photos of the b&b but I haven’t found them yet.  If I do, I’ll edit this post to include them.

I know it was €40 and on the GoPro footage the next morning I refer to the b&b as a converted 18th century farmhouse. It had 6 ensuite rooms and the first room I was in had little or no wifi signal so before unpacking, I moved along the corridor till I was outside a room where the signal was stronger and had them move me to that room instead !

I’ve also no record/memory of where or what I ate for supper so all in all, apart from knowing it was just outside Killarney, that’s it !

I had a great day driving around the Beara Peninsula and I only went 122 miles so it wasn’t taxing at all. The next day would take me through Killarney Forest and around The Ring of Kerry.

 

 

 

Ireland Road Trip Day 8 – Mon 18/4/2016

I was quite tempted to stay another night at the Insiara b&b as it was so nice but there was little of interest around it, with even the nearest village being over 5 miles away.

So at 10:00 and smelling of lavender after my shower, I set off for the short 9 mile drive to Kinsale…..a destination which totally underwhelmed me.

Yes it’s a cute fishing port and yes it has wonderful fish based restaurants where the food is probably so fresh that it’s still moving on the plates but it just wasn’t for me. I parked along the sea front and walked around the town, which took all of 30 minutes as there wasn’t much to see.

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I did visit the most recommended restaurant in Kinsale and the owner let me take photos inside as it wasn’t open for business at that time of the morning.

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I did make good use of the tourist office though and left armed with a series of lovely glossy guide books to all areas of Ireland which I found very useful for the rest of the trip.

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I’m not sure about the “pocket guide” descriptions though as you’d need very large, deep pockets to fit one of these guides inside.

Leaving the town behind, I drove south 10 miles to the Old Head of Kinsale but couldn’t go the last mile or so to the lighthouse because the land had been turned into a rather posh golf course and there was even a man by a stone portal who was making sure riff raff like me weren’t allowed to progress further.

Even telling him that I’d come all the way from Kinsale didn’t impress him !

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At this point both sides of the path, for it wasn’t even a proper road, disappeared off down to the Atlantic but when the portal keeper saw my indecision, he helpfully told me to go to the right for better views.

And he was right.

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Craggy.  Definitely craggy.

I sat on that little sandy/grassy platform (top photo) and enjoyed the view for a while. Sea birds whirled around me before returning with food to their nesting sites. All in all it was a lovely spot and back at the car I thanked the portal keeper for his advice.

He asked me to wait a minute and went off to his little hut and returned with a gift for me…..a golf club brochure and here are 3 photos from it to show how dramatic a course it is and probably why it costs €240 to play 18 holes there. I’d probably lose balls to the same value if I played a round !  The last photo shows an aerial view of the course and the Old Head peninsula and I’ve added some text to show how far I got.

Old Head Golf 1

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I think there was a public route round to the lighthouse if I’d gone down from the path to the left instead of the right, but I was happy with the choice I’d made.

Driving back to the main roads, R604/R600/R603, I was meaning to go straight to Mizen Head but while sitting at that Old Head scenic spot I’d read the guide book from the tourist office in Kinsale and saw that a short detour would take me to Kilbrittain.

Why ?  Well obviously to see the skeleton of a fin whale that washed up on the beach and….oh let this sign tell the story……….

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It was 10 miles away and only a mile or so from my route anyway so worth a visit. When I got there I found that Kilbrittain consisted of 1 shop, a pub, a petrol station and 2 or 3 houses….maybe 4. The park where the skeleton was on display was basically a grassy hill with a small concrete area at the top where kids could kick a ball about BUT sure enough, in pride of place was the fin whale, or at least its bones.

I’m still not sure where the beach was as Kilbrittain is miles from the sea !  That whale was REALLY lost.

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It was a bizarre sight and for some reason it made me hungry.

I hit the trail again and also the N71 towards Mizen Head. I was now on the Wild Atlantic Way and I’d recommend the website to anyone planning to drive around any section of the west coast of Ireland. I did mostly follow it but sometimes I wanted to be even closer to the water so would go off down narrow tracks to get to the very edge of peninsulas around the coast.

50 miles from Kilbrittain (and after leaving the N71 onto the R592) I came upon a grouping of stones just a few feet from the road so as there was a parking area, I pulled in and went to explore.

Altar Tomb

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Good spot for a sheltered bbq I’d have thought or sacrificing a local maiden at the weekend..

Nearby were some great views with the crashing Atlantic waves breaking spectacularly over the black rocks  There were also sheltered bays and despite the late hour, I enjoyed clambering around them like I used to love doing when I was a kid.  Not there of course but back in N. Ireland.

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Then it was on to Mizen Head. The R591 forked just over 6 miles from Mizen Head but the road that WASN’T the continuation of the R591 didn’t have a number but the sign at the fork said Barley Cove and Mizen Head so I took it. This narrow unnamed road proved the point that you can totally miss something scenic by going one way as I’ll explain later. By the time I got to Mizen Head, all my stopping and starting had left me too late to get onto the bridge shown in my photo below. I’d no idea there would be a visitor centre and gift shop which meant there were opening hours but it seems that at the end of every peninsula in western island, at least ones with lighthouses, there are commercial enterprises to take your money of you.

At least there was a bridge here that would need maintaining so fair enough…..and it was only €4.50 to go across BUT it all closed at 17:00 and I arrived at 16:30.  I asked how long was the walk to the bridge and was told 15 minutes so it made no sense to stay.

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Here are a couple of photos from the web site to show what I missed !

Mizen Head Bridge 1

Mizen Head Bridge 2

Ah well…..another day !

On my drive back along the unnamed road to rejoin the R591 and just 2 miles from Mizen Head, I saw a lovely beach to my right that I’d totally missed on the outward journey as it was hidden when driving that way. It was at Barley Cove and to get onto the beach, I had to park at some apartments and walk down a long private path. Being off season there was no one around to challenge me and after a few minutes I was on the sand dunes and then on the beach

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I walked to the far end but for some reason there was a smell of sewage where the beach swept around due to a long channel that might have had an overflow pipe somewhere along it. I came back along the sand dunes and with the sand there being much softer and deeper, I was pretty tired by the time I had to face the very steep climb back up to the car park area. I can tell you the walk up took 10 times longer than the walk down and I had to sit in the car for a while to get my heart rate down to normal !

By now it was well after 6pm and I wanted to leave Bantry till the next day so just 19 miles from Barley Cove and a quarter of a mile from Durrus, still on the R591, I saw a b&b sign and went to check it out.  It was called J0-Al because the owners were John and Alice Hickey and not because they came from the planet Krypton ! I’m not sure why, but John gave me a lovely double room for an amazing €30 and when you see photos of the breakfast, I think I got the b&b deal of the decade.

Again I had a bit of a rest before inquiring about places to eat. I was told it was a short walk to Durrus and there were a few good places there but I’d had enough walking so drove to the village and picked O’Sullivan’s Bar.

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Non classic Irish bar with one local propping it up and thankfully no music. It was a warm evening so I sat well away from the fire and enjoyed my chicken in a basket and using the wifi to catch up on world events.

Back at the b&b I made my plans for the next day and then watched some more shows on the laptop but was ready for bed at midnight. Another long day with lots of exercise and I was asleep in minutes.

I didn’t know it then, but the next day was to be one of my favourites.