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……
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
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………..
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..
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…….
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.
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……..
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.
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.
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.