Limerick to Hermitage - 1997
Sunday 10th August 145 miles
Tom came down from his rooftop slumbers and had a cup of tea with us. .
It was a grey morning. We had breakfast and left at 9.30.
We came first to Roberts Cove, which Tom had cycled to last night. We didn't stop and drove on to a western and then an eastern branch of Oyster Haven and stopped for elevenses – the last of the fruit loaf, toasted. Unfortunately it started to rain. We drove on round to Charles Fort and sat reading etc. as it was raining and very windy. By the time we had stopped at Kinsale it was sunny. We walked around the bustling town then went into Supervalu where we bought pies and potato wedges which we ate in a little park overlooking the water. We went on a walk called the Scilly Walk along beside the water. By the time we left it was 2.30.
We crossed the bridge and investigated the little beach at Castle Park, but it was very windy. We drove round to Sandy Cove – the little bit we missed when coming to meet Tom. We weren't enticed out but drove on northwards to a place on the Bandon River where there must once have been a bridge. Again the road just stopped.
It was now time to make our way to Cork Airport to meet Simon. We had to drive back through Kinsale, which was very crowded and narrow and then followed a different road northwards arriving at the airport at 4.30. We had difficulty in parking and eventually had a barrier specially opened for us. Simon's arrival was delayed until 5.30.
We set off about 6.00 for Caherdaniel – back through Cork then up to Macroom. Soon after here Renee and Lena overtook us in their car, with Emma. We stopped to say hello then continued to Kenmare (where Si got some money out) and Caherdaniel. The last bit was slow going. We arrived about 8.30 and located the cottages and said hello to everyone. Bed after midnight
We now had Emma, Simon & Tom here, but unfortunately Paul & Nicky had chosen this year to go to Iceland so sadly could not be with us.
Monday 11th August 0 miles
Bed but not sleep! A storm was brewing and we had thunder, lightning and torrential rain. About 1.30 am I put my hand out and found a saturated area next to me. I aroused Adrian and we realise that the rain had poured through the open vent above me! We sopped up some of the moisture and changed the duvet cover. I then slept until 5.45 when there was more heavy rain. We came to after that about 8.00 am to a heavy morning hung with cloud, but the sun soon made its way through.
We had breakfast with Renee and Lena, Ed and Liz, Si and Tom and Gareth.
I cycled a long way down the lane by the sea. About midday we all set off to walk around and through some of the sandy coves of Caherdaniel.
We stopped at the Ahamore Abbey ruins where we sat and had lunch, lazed, chatted and some swam.
On our way back late in the afternoon, we stopped off at the pub and sat and drank and chatted more.
We ate outside in the evening, all coming together after, outside the 'Butters' house to share Renee's "holiday" cake. A few spots of rain sent us inside. We continued an evening of singing and jollity which culminated at 1.00 am for us, Tom, Si and Val & Pippa with David playing Beatles songs on the guitar while we sang along lustily. A great evening. We walked back down the lane under a multitude of stars.
Tuesday 12th August 0 miles
A really glorious day. We left at 12.30 and went for a long walk to the top of the hill opposite, stopping for lunch beside a little stream with waterfalls. It was pretty blowy and very boggy on the top, but the views were fantastic (499 m).
We came back to relax at the pub before walking back, arriving just before 7 o'clock, but it was still very hot.
We had supper outside, but were plagued a bit by no-see-ums. I then rode down to the little harbour and back on Adrian's bike.
We all congregated on the "patio" outside the 'Butters', but everyone was too tired for much frivolity!
Wednesday 13th August Our 31st Wedding Anniversary 67 miles
We left at 11.30 am to drive around the far end of the Iveraugh Peninsula. The weather was cloudy. We headed along the coast to Waterville, enjoying the superb views, then took a small road down to Bailleen Skellig and then round to Portmagee, crossing the bridge to Valencia Island. Looking back from here, Portmagee looked very pretty with its pastel houses beside the water
Simon had made us up some lunch, which we ate sitting here before going into the "Skellig Experience" – a visitor centre with an audio-visual presentation about the Skelligs plus some interesting displays.
We drove around Valencia Island which was pleasant but not dramatic. We enjoyed the quietness and the lack of both traffic and houses. I would like to have explored more and it seemed a good place for cycling. We returned to Portmagee and then along the northern side of this end of the peninsula, taking the main road back to Waterville and through the Coomakesta Pass. We stopped briefly at the top and looked down over Derrynane Harbour – it was very windy.
It was 4.45 when we returned. Lena said that the others were on the beach. We decided to join them, passing Renee on the long walk around there.
By now it was warm and sunny and quite sheltered. We were just in time for a delightful refreshing swim in the sea.
It was then time to return to get ready for our meal at the "Blind Piper" in the village.
We walked up there – quite a long way – and then there followed some misunderstandings as we had been booked into the restaurant and many wanted just bar meals.
However the food which we ordered was excellent and beautifully presented. I had chicken and Adrian had trout. Both were served with delicious sauces and the complements and even the potatoes were yummy. We even had puddings. Definitely my kind of meal – quality not quantity.
We had heard that there was an Irish music downstairs so the rest of our anniversary evening was spent there, sitting close to the musicians, one looked like a Spanish Zulu and one like a young Bob Geldof. The third played Irish bagpipes amongst other instruments. It was a superb ending to the day.
On the way into the bar, which was very crowded, Tom had indicated for me to make room for someone to pass. I turned and said to him "are you asking me to get out of the way?" In a mock angry voice. A chap trying to get through sheepishly said "no, no, I just want to get past". He looked a little startled when I said that I was speaking to my son!
It was about 12.30 when the musicians packed up. It had just started to rain heavily. Just to put the damper on things (literally) we had the long trail back in the rain. Tom & Si jogged back (and got soaked). We walked (and got soaked). The dawdlers hardly got wet at all as it had almost stopped raining by the time they set out.
At 1.00 am I was putting clothes in the tumble dryer. An anniversary to remember.
Thursday 14th August 229 miles!
We had set this day aside to finish driving around the western coast of Ireland, which entailed driving up to and around the Dingle. This, we realised, was a foolish omission on our part, as we should have done it before heading south. At the time we hadn't appreciated how far and slow it was from Caherdaniel.
Consequently we knew that we had to be off early and left at 8.10 am before breakfast, in heavy rain. A sharp shower in the night had woken us – we didn't want a repeat of the other night!
We followed the coast road back to Sneem, then turned off to cross the northern side of the Inveraugh peninsula. We stopped to have breakfast just after crossing the Blackwater River, which looked delightful with water cascading over rapids. It was very forested here and very green and mountainous, dotted with sheep. Little waterfalls everywhere showed up white and frothy.
We came to the Ballghbeama Pass, strewn with rocks. Waterfalls abounded and there was water from above too!
We came down to Killorglin – big and busy with nowhere for us to park. At Milltown we could stop and bought some bread and some meat for tomorrow.
At Castlemaine we took a wrong turn and started going inland but then righted ourselves by turning onto a long straight road – the main road looked winding from the map – and just as we reached Tralee we took the road to Blennerville, with its prominent windmill which we remembered from 1991.
It was now nearly midday and sunny!
We started westwards along the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula. We took a little road down to the beach, but the actual entry to the beach had been well walked by cows. We walked on to the lovely sandy beach in the sun and enjoyed the views across Tralee Bay to where we had been a couple of weeks ago. The sea was aquamarine.
Not long after this we saw an advanced sign!! saying that the maximum width on the Connor Pass was 6ft. As our van is over 7ft wide, this meant a change of plan.
We would now have to retrace any more steps westward. At Castlegregory we didn't find the road we wanted so drove along south of Lough Gill to Kilcunnin. Here we drove right on to the beach and sat have our lunch in the van. Afterwards we had a quick walk to the sea and a paddle (me). There are several horse-drawn holiday caravans in this area – one was at the beach. We think that the idea of this is nicer than the actual experience, as time will be spent with cars always behind you and waiting to pass.
We now had to drive back to Camp in order to take the other route to the south of the Dingle. At Camp we gave a lift to two young lads from Millstreet. They were off for a camping weekend in Dingle before their "A" level equivalent results came out on Tuesday. Results in England came out today.
It was 2.15 when we got to Dingle – packed out with people – just on the outskirts we had passed a "craft village". We had seen it in 1991 and spent a long time earlier this holiday trying to remember where it was that we had seen this village.
We set off on the Slea Head Drive – anti clockwise knowing that we had no time to do any extras. There was an exception that Slea Head itself, where we stopped to walk at what we believe is the most westerly point of Ireland (and Europe) – discounting islands.
It was more than blowy here – I almost had the door ripped out of my hand as I opened it. Lots of people were also "walking" – if that is the word – across the headland overlooking the Blasket Islands. We had visited the beach below here in 1991 – a glorious sandy beach, but now the tide was in.
The road on from here was spectacular, with cliff face behind and cliffs below, with the road cut in. Luckily we met very little traffic at this point – it has been pretty busy on the Dingle.
The road curved round in a very sharp bend and a river came crashing right over the road. Several motorists had stopped to photograph this which meant that we couldn't get past. One even did a three-point turn in front of us, making us reverse into the "river"!
We passed the site of the "beehive huts" we had visited last time, but didn't stop, and then passed Ventry where we had lunch in 1991.
We continued along the south of the Dingle to Castlemaine, where we turned south. Just before Milltown we stopped to get diesel (cheaply) just before 6.00 pm.
We now had to drive along the north of the Inveraugh Peninsula. We saw the Kerrybog Village near Glenburgh, which we had visited before. Just after this, escaped goats in the road, caused a traffic jam!
We came through Cahirsiveen (and saw Kevy's takeaway). We were impressed by the prettiness of the pastoral houses and realised how much it must have improved since our last visit. There was a huge church here too.
We now followed the coast road back to Caherdaniel – the Coomakesta Pass was in cloud – arriving at 7.14 pm just as the others had started their evening meal.
We returned to the Tiv and got scrambled eggs for ourselves. We joined the others inside and after sharing a bottle of Lena's champagne, joined in the quiz organised by Renee and the "name game" organised by Simon. Bed at Midnight.
Friday 15th August 0 miles
An "Irish" morning turned into a beautiful day. After breakfast we cycled to the village to the "country market". This was held in a hall and was rather like a car boot sale! I did buy some potatoes and a courgette and some little cakes and a stone hot water bottle to go with the old caravan. We cycled on to the shop and bought one or two other things.
By the time we got back, the day had brightened and we packed up lunch and set off for the beach about midday. It was really hot.
Swimming in the sea was lovely. We stayed until late afternoon then Emma and I walked back via Derrynane House – former home of Daniel O'Connell. We enjoyed walking through the vast gardens.
We had decided to have a last evening barbecue on the beach and Tom and Simon expertly built – or dugout – the barbecues while we prepared the food. The clouds had built up worryingly, but soon dispersed and we spent a fine warm evening on the beach – 18 of us – (Ed, Liz and Gareth had left) – a good culmination to the week.
Saturday 16th August 156 miles
We hadn't slept well, but were still up early to get organised for leaving. It was raining hard but gradually cleared to a cloudy/partly sunny day.
Everyone else was similarly organised and all left to go their separate ways just before 11 o'clock.
We stopped at the beach at Castle Cove (Whitesands beach) which we had so loved in 1991. Today it was strewn with seaweed. We strolled on the beach.
On the beach at Caherdaniel
On the beach Caherdaniel
Anniversary meal at the 'Blind Piper' Pub
Musicians at the 'Blind Piper' Pub
Adrian at Slea Head
Last night barbecue on the beach at Caherdaniel
Lunch before the climb
On top of the mountain
On Abbey Island, Caherdaniel
Walking across the shallows at Catherdaniel
At the 'Blind Piper' Pub
Evening meal at the cottage
Breakfast at the cottage
Meeting Simon at Cork Airport
Tom & Adrian on the Scilly Walk
Saturday 2nd August 93 miles
I slept like a log – it must have been the Paddy's whiskey! Frank had cooked a delicious breakfast and we enjoyed more convivial chat with him and Eugenie. We did a machine load of washing and partly dried it. It was a fine morning.
A friend Ellie had arrived, then she and Eugenie went out and we left some time after 11.00.
We stopped to fill up with diesel before joining the road going westwards, south of the Shannon River. In Askeaton – a small town with a castle ruins like so many – I bought bread and milk. We stopped again briefly at Foynes and looked across to Foynes Island.
From here onwards the road ran near to the water and there were pleasant views across to the northern side, with interesting lighting on the still water.
We stopped for lunch by Carrigafoyle Castle. We investigated the Castle ruins first and climbed to the top of a spiral staircase.
Frank & Eugenie (Donal's parents) with us outside their house near Limerick
Reeds and the marshes surrounded the Castle. We sat on stone seats to enjoy our lunch in the stillness. A curlew called as we left.
We drove on (literally) to Beal Beach at the head of the estuary. The beach was of very fine sand and there were quite a few people. We had a short laze on the beach, then walked out across the sand to have a paddle in the mostly warm sea.
A bit further on we drove to the sea again, facing more towards the sea than the estuary. On walking over the large stones at the top of the beach, I hurt my ankle, but we still went for a short walk on the sand and left at 3.40.
We drove through Ballybunnion which had a pretty sandy sheltered beach dominated by Castle ruins. The beach and the sea teamed with people and cars were parked everywhere along the roads.
We drove round the Cachen Estuary, then drove down to the sea once more. From this coast we could look across to the Loop peninsula.
We continued to Kerry Head and driving round here we had magnificent views across to the hills of the Dingle Peninsula, looking very dark with the light shimmering on the sea in front of them.
Rosie at Carrigafoyle Castle
We drove through the busy little place of Ballyheige at the end of Kerry Head, where it met the flat stretch before Tralee. We saw several uninspiring static sites, then came across a field by the sand dunes at Banna crammed with caravans and tents. This appeared to be an unofficial free site, so we joined them. We had no success in filling up the water tank, so continue with the peaty stuff!
We had a short walk to the blowy beach, where several people were apparently enjoying the sea, then came back to the Tiv.
Looking to the Dingle from Kerry Head
The beach at Bana
We had discovered that one of the wheels and trim had been badly damaged by the bumps in the road.
We ate the do-it-yourself pizza we had bought yesterday and I made some ginger cookies, all of which we ate afterwards.
The best things in life are the unexpected. I was not too sure about going for a walk as I wasn't sure how good my injured ankle would be. As it turned out it was fine. We walked over the dunes to the beach and found that the tide had now gone out a long way (it was 9.30 pm) leaving a huge Quiberon type beach stretching for miles. The wind had dropped and it was peaceful and beautiful looking across to the Dingle Peninsula. It was misty above the water, reminding us of Vancouver Island. We walked a very long way along the beach – it was almost dark when we returned.
Sunday 3rd August 107 miles
It started raining as we went to bed last night. It rained all night and all day.
We left about 10.20 and drove round the next "peninsula", round Barlow Harbour and on to Finit. We stopped here and watched as a man went and got changed, then went into the sea and swam a huge distance across the bay. He was still swimming when we left.
We headed for Tralee which Adrian decided to drive through. It did not look any more inviting on this grey day than when we last visited in 1991. We found our way out eventually and made for Killarney. This was very boggled with traffic. As we drove south there would have been lovely views had the weather and the visibility not been so bad.
(We had decided to miss out the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas and do them later when we were staying at Caherdaniel in a weeks time as we were getting short of time - this turned out to be a bad decision)
We stopped for lunch looking back over Muckcross Lake – what you could see. We had boiled eggs and toast – followed by toasted fruit loaf with a cup of tea.
The visibility cleared a bit, but it continued to rain. We found that there was a waterfall behind us. All the streams were so full of water because of the rain that they looked very pretty and water was shooting out over the road in many places.
The scenery from here on was very beautiful – green and mountainous, but the going was very slow. We continued to Kenmare. Occasionally visibility got better and we kept hoping for a glimmer of sun, but it never came. Somewhere after Kenmare we stopped at an isolated tourist office hoping to buy a more detailed map, but the young girl sitting in the cold and lonely room only had leaflets.
We started the drive around the Beara Peninsula – we had done this in 1991 from the other direction.
The elongated peninsula ending at Eyeries was very attractive even if the roads were poor and we had to spend a lot of time pulling in so as to pass other vehicles. Eyeries excels all other towns in the garishness of the colour of its houses.
Adrian was able to buy a map in O' Sullivans.
It was now after 5 o'clock and we knew that we needed a campsite tonight for water and emptying. We decided to cut across the peninsula and head for the only one in the area at Castletownbear. As we got near the weather deteriorated becoming even wetter and with very strong winds.
From the information we had, we didn't hold out much hope for the site, but it turned out to be an idyllic situation right by the sea overlooking Bear Island. The price was reasonable – £8.50 including electricity. The only thing we could do nothing about was the weather, which at the best could be described as atrocious.
Later in the evening we walked across to the bar which was not very exciting – TV on. We had had two knocks on the Tiv door – firstly someone to ask if we had paid, the second one we couldn't understand at all!
Monday 4th August 73 miles
The wind blew a lot in the night but when we awoke there were momentry gaps between the gusts and the torrential rain had stopped late last night. However the forecast wasn't any better and we heard on the news that a man had been killed in a car accident in the area we were in.
I planned to go across and have a shower in the club building, but would have liked a swim first. I investigated the beaches on the little headland in front of us – part of the golf course – but they weren't suitable, being stony and full of seaweed and my foot was still feeling slightly fragile. The little headland ended in an, out of bounds, one time military harbour. Disappointed at this, I proceeded with my shower. I chatted to an Irish woman with two small girls. They were very frustrated with the weather.
After breakfast Adrian pondered over whether to change our damaged wheel and decided to proceed. He was successful, so by the time we had had a short walk and the drizzle descended for a short sharp blast, it was 11.30 when we left.
We drove back to Castletownbere and as we pulled into park saw another Autosleepers Executive. We stopped to have a chat and then went into a fairly large Supervalu and did quite a big shop. The view out from the bay was very pretty and the day was better than yesterday (not difficult).
We saw a newspaper headline "weathermen leave us high but not dry" - the article said that the weather men had got it quite wrong and they said it was just one of those things.
We drove back across to the northern side of the peninsula. We stopped to look across to the hills of the Kerry Peninsula looking lovely in the light.
We took a little road down to Tavara Strand, where we stopped beside a little harbour to have lunch, including the delicious cakes we had bought – mine yummy cream slice (50p) and Adrian's a Danish pastry. We walked along the beach and again looked over to the hills at the end of the Kerry Peninsula, looking quite stunning, with the sun shining on them!
We continued westwards and stopped once more on this northern side to enjoy the view of the Kerry hills.
We drove right to the end of the Beara Peninsula to where the cable car goes over to Dursey Island. The windy point cafe seemed aptly named. It was pretty bleak.
We had to return by the same road for 5 or 6 miles, then we took the southerly route, stopping once to look down to Castletownbeare and Bear island. The heather was looking very pretty on the barren rocks. We continued to Glengarrif where we stopped to look into the tourist office (very little) and to buy an ice cream (40p). The town was very touristy and full of people. We saw the place where we had had lunch in 1991.
The drizzle now returned and visibility deteriorated. We continued round Bantry Bay passing one or two campsites, but didn't need one tonight.
Soon after Bantry we took a small road to the sea opposite Whiddey Island and thought it a good stopping place. It was beside a stony beach and adjacent to an airstrip. An amazing number of cars came down for people to walk along the edge of the airfield (despite notices saying not to).
After they had all left, and we did the same (walk), then came back and cooked supper (Supervalu special breasts – chicken of course!). The evening had cleared. We spent a long time looking out over the water of Bantry Bay, in our splendid solitude.
According to the radio, it had rained a lot today, but we hadn't had any to speak of.
We had been listening to a programme of Irish country type singing with overly predictable lyrics and a de-da-de-da tunes. We put on a John Denver tape.
Tuesday, 5th August 88 miles
The day started early – I awoke at 7 o'clock and decided on a swim. It was very calm and not cold – but the water was! The beach was of large stones so I wore my flip-flops right into the water, and just about managed to balance and take them off for my quick swim. As I did so I saw the sea urchin swimming in front of me.
The little boat which seems to ply its way between Bantry and somewhere on the Beara coast went by.
I came back and enjoyed a cup of tea in bed, but we were still on the road before 9.30! The sun even shone through the window as we left. We drove back up our lane, bordered on either side with high fuchsia hedges so that they almost met overhead.
We drove down the northern side of the Sheep's Head Peninsula. Being on the road early meant that we met very little traffic. This peninsula isn't so well known as others. We followed the narrow road high above the sea, then about two thirds of the way down had to cross to the southern side.
We stopped in the middle at the little "pass". It was very still and quiet. Heather and miniature gorse was everywhere, the two colours complemented each other.
The sun even shone down warmly – so welcome after all the dreariness. We could see the Beara Peninsula to the north and the Mizen to the south with pastel shades reflected in the water. Little waterfalls trickled down from the hills. It was all very lovely.
We reached the southern side of the island at Kilcrohane, then followed the single road to the end of the peninsula – it was a long and narrow road. We stopped here sitting on a rock high above the sea. It was beautifully peaceful and quiet. Two cyclists from Kendal arrived (although he had a Scottish accent and she a Midlands one) just as we were leaving to walk to the lighthouse. We met them again later on our return walk.
The walk to the lighthouse was much further than I had realised. It was often boggy underfoot. The views were splendid.
It was 12.30 when we arrived back at the Tiv and there were now 9 other cars (plus the cyclists) parked there (It pays to get off early!).
We now had to drive back along the same road to Kilcrohane. We needed somewhere to stop for lunch – our first try didn't work out as a car was already parked at the spot we wanted and we had difficulty turning round. We did manage to stop just beside the road after Ahakista, right by the sea. I cooked bacon and eggs. Afterwards I had a walk on the beach. It was still warm, but now overcast.
As we set off we discovered that we had parked next to a Memorial to the 350 passengers and crew killed in an air disaster in June 1985. It was very sobering to walk past the little area of shrubs to a large sundial set in stone and a wall listing the names of all those who died – mostly Indians, as it was an Air India Airline.
We continued past the top end of the peninsula at "Friendly Cove" where we stopped at Durrus and got a bit of shopping, some diesel and some ice creams – all from the same shop and served by the same young assistant.
We now started down the northern side of the Mizen Peninsula turning off about halfway down to a small road to continue along the north. The scenery was lovely, with steep rocks to the sea. The Irish are not yet into "stopping places", so we often have to see things in passing.
We drove right down to Mizen Head, the last bit of which was a "there and back" road and on which we met many cars coming "back"! When we reached Mizen Head, we came to a car park with many more cars – and an entry fee of £2.50 each to visit the head – this is apparently the most south-westerly point in Ireland. By now, though, it was "mizening" – very damp Irish mist, so we knew that we didn't want to go anyway. The mist meant that visibility was pretty poor.
We returned along the road to Barley Cove, Adrian being increasingly frustrated at all the oncoming drivers who insist on pulling in to let you pass – even if you already pulled in at a more convenient spot.
It was still drizzling at Barley Cove, but what a superb spot! We had seen it on our way to Mizen, but now stopped and walked down to the huge sandy inlet, with a little river running through and leading to a huge sandy beach. I paddled for a long time. The water was warm. Bliss!
Now began the search of where to park for the night. There was in fact a caravan site, just after this, but it was mostly static and very unattractive and anyway we didn't need a site.
At our first try we had to make a very hairy turn around as there was no space. The second place we tried was a delight, but the sign said "no overnighting". There were white sandy beaches and little bays all around and a very convenient car park. So – on we went. Another no-go. And so to Skull – a very bustling little place. Another no-go (private land) then the long trail cross-country, not being sure where we were. This area seems so full of houses in isolated spots, but no "pull off's" at all.
Eventually we came to Ballydehob – a wonderful name for a wonderful place. We found an ideal spot beside the tidal river, with a disused railway viaduct towering above us. Through that we could see the little bridges of the town and the other way a walkway over a weir.
I got supper then we walked up into the pretty little town. We followed out of interest a sign saying "camping 200 metres" and although we walked for over a quarter of a mile saw nothing!
Then we walked up again (about 10.30) into this town with a very French feel about it and visited an Irish pub where Irish music and dancing was advertised. The music was "squeezebox" and the dancing energetic – like English barn dances but faster! We had a drink and left it in full swing. Bed 12.15.
Wednesday 6th August 90 miles
I awoke early again to a grey morning. It stayed that way all day. We heard on the news of a jumbo jet crashing – it made yesterday's Memorial visit seem very relevant.
We left again at 9.30, not stopping to shop in Ballydehob, which was a mistake, as we passed through very little else.
We went cross-country at first – everywhere looking very green, then followed up beside the river to Skibbereen. We stopped by a graveyard which commemorated those who died in the great famine of 1844-5. The graveyard, like so many, was beside the ruins of an old Abbey. – A woman visitor spoke to us about travelling in our motorhome - so many people's dream.
We drove right down to Baltimore – looking very like a South Devon place. Baltimore was very crowded – we got stuck behind a dust cart for a long time. The former fishing village is now a popular yachting place. We saw no shops – only restaurants. The road didn't go anywhere, so we had to fight our way back.
We drove on to Lough Hyne where we stopped for elevenses. This is a land locked Lough of salt water and with a unique habitat. There are apparently hordes of unusual fishes, but despite the water being clear, we didn't see any. We were in heavy drizzle!
We tried to take a road round the back of Lough Hyne, to where it joins the sea at rapids, but it didn't work and we had a very nasty turn round. We then took more small roads, coming down to Tragumna Beach, where there was a large car park. This was obviously a scuba diving centre and there was a lot of activity with people getting ready to dive. Adrian filled the tank with water from the tap here.
We carried on to Castletownshend, passing a bay made up of lots of small vertical caves of rock. Castletownhend was a pretty village with one steep road going down to the water, but with a tree planted in the middle of the road so that it was difficult to do anything.
There was one tiny shop where we managed to buy bread and eggs. The man was a little preoccupied with two delivery lorries trying to deliver to him and a group of girls buying ice creams. There was no room to move!
We drove up to the top of this inlet and stopped for lunch at Rineen, in a Forest picnic spot. We had a picture box view out over the inlet, surrounded by forest.
After lunch we walked down through the forest to the Lough and back. It was drizzling heavily, but not cold, so again it seemed a bit more like rainforest. A curlew called and we saw a heron.
We drove on to Union Hall – very pretty and Devon looking and then over two fine bridges to a pretty little yachting place Glandore.
We now went off one map on on to another (they don't overlap) to Galley Head, rather stupidly signposted, as you arrive at the lighthouse saying private and nowhere to turn round. We did so with difficulty and almost got stuck.
There are lots of large sandy beaches in this area. Just before Clonakilty, on a large sandy inlet, we saw a whole host of curlews. We stopped in Clonakilty in Spar still drizzling heavily and very grey. The girl in the shop said what awful weather.
We drove across the Seven Heads Peninsula to Butlerstown, then up the middle a bit to Courtmacsherry looking very pretty beside the water. We were able to view it better later from the other side of the water.
We followed up beside this estuary to Timoleague, with fine Abbey ruins, then on coming down the other side we found a suitable spot for overnighting we settled in, then walked out along the shore. We saw another heron – we had seen lots today.
Thursday 7th August 160 miles
Awake early after a good night, to a grey morning. We left our earliest yet at 8.45! We had again watched the curlews.
We headed first for the Old Head of Kinsale – a long promontory pointing south easterly into the sea. We didn't drive right to the lighthouse. We had passed through tall fuchsia hedges. At Old Head there was a Memorial to 1198 people lost from the Lusitania off Old Head in 1915.
We then had a phone call from Tom from Wexford and we arranged to meet at Dungarvan. We soon came to Kinsale with a fine bridge. Kinsale was large with lots of fishing craft and pleasure craft and reminiscent of Dartmouth.
We now made our way to Cork and through Cork and then on to Dungarvan. We arrived in the square a couple of minutes after Tom had arrived with Val and Mike. We all piled into the Tiv for elevenses and much chat.
By now the sun had come out to to give a beautiful afternoon. We decided to have lunch together and with difficulty located a beach area just around from Dungarvan where we had a late and lengthy lunch in the sunshine, leaving at 4.45 with us now taking Tom.
Friday 8th August 103 miles
Woke up to a beautiful morning and had breakfast outside. We had a short walk on the beach and left just after 10.00.
We drove cross-country to the Blackwater River estuary. It did become misty once or twice and listening to the radio it was obviously foggy in other places. The water was very still and we could see reflections clearly in it as we drove around. We had to join the N25 which we had travelled on yesterday to cross the river and drive down to Youghal.
Here we parked by the quay and shopped in Supervalu. We had driven through here yesterday and it had looked bustling but attractive. A fine stone tower straddles the main road through.
However, the flower beds were trampled on and there was sign saying "no ball games" which rather detracted from its attraction.
We sat by the harbour in the sunshine and ate our yummy cream cakes with tea/coffee (and discovered that we had completely run out of water) and looked at Tom's University stuff. It was midday when we left.
We continued southwards round Ballycotton Bay. Trying to find somewhere for lunch proved difficult – we came across several static sites and Ballycotton itself just ended at a harbour where we turned round with difficulty.
We then drove a bit and came down to the sea at a place which at first didn't look promising, but we managed to park above a pretty cove where a group of children were playing in the sea. We climbed over a little walland sat on Hunnocky grass to eat our lunch and then to laze for a long time afterwards. The place was called Ballyandreen.
We then drove towards Cork harbour reaching it at Whitegate and driving up the eastern side. There were some lovely views over land and water, but some parts were very muddy
We looked at a site near Middleton but it was very mediocre.
We drove on down to Great Island, on which Cobh (Cove) is situated. We drove along the northern side to a little point at the eastern end where we passed gate saying "Private" and down the lane afterwards cameras were fixed. At the bottom (just shown as a main road ending at the sea) a guard was watching from behind the wall and a sign said "no parking". We turned round (again with difficulty) and left this pretty spot quickly, driving back through the lane of green trees.
We drove on to Cobh where we stopped and walked around in the warm sunshine and buying an ice cream. We reminisced over our 1991 visit. Things have definitely smartened up a lot since then, with houses prettily painted and decked with flowers. We went briefly into the old railway station, restored to be a sort of Museum, but not open, although we could walk around it. We left at 6.00 pm and it was still hot. The drive back to Cork and round to Blarney was hot and sticky. We reached the campsite just outside Blarney. Adrian refilled the water tank and then we enjoyed sitting in the sun with a beer and preparing for a barbecue.
The Sun went as we began to eat and the evening felt colder than usual, with the clear sky from which shone a thin slice of moon. We moved inside and Tom Adrian had a game chess.
Saturday 9th August 47 miles
It was a greyer morning than we had hoped, although the sun had woken us and soon came out to give a sunny day.
We did the "emptying and filling" and left at 10.30.
We drove back into Blarney and went into the Castle, going first to climb the Castle tower and kiss the Blarney Stone. This was a good move, as we didn't have to wait long, but when we went to come back down, there were crowds waiting. Adrian and I had both kissed the stone before but it was the first time for Tom. Knowing what to expect, it was no big deal this time. Tom couldn't believe the £6 they were charging for official photographs (We took our own of him).
I had commented on our October 1991 visit how dark it was climbing up. This time there were lights.
There was a lot of congestion waiting to come down the spiral staircase. Afterwards we walked round the pleasant Castle grounds and then had a quick look around Blarney itself, shopping in Supervalu. We left at 12.40.
We had hoped to have lunch at a nearby picnic spot, but there was a height barrier, so we retraced our steps to Cork and through it. There were no signposts at all afterwards and consequently we missed the next bit of coast road, so backtracked a bit to Monkstown where we sat beside the water (height restriction in the car park again) on a seat overlooking Great Island.
We then drove down to Ringaskiddy where the car ferry goes from. Right at the end was a little beach where we stopped a while then drove around the inlet of the Owenboy River to Crosshaven and then down to Myrtleville – a pleasant little cove, but they had decided today to clear seaweed from the beach using a JCB and a lorry, which was rather noisy and smelly so we didn't stay long.
A bit further on was Ringabella Bay – another river inlet with a large sandy estuary. There was a large car park here (no height barrier). We bought an ice cream – wafers already made up on a tray in the freezer, – then walked a long way along the sandy spit quite a way up the river (crossing it – it was shallow). We spied another small car park on this side of the river. On returning to our car park, where we had thought we might stay, we decided to drive around the other one, which was much smaller. This entailed a long trek inland to cross the river and back again on the southern side. It was 6 o'clock when we arrived.
Tom went for a cycle on Adrian's bike. We enjoyed sitting in the sun and listening to curlews and watching herons, then both separately cycled along beside the river and back.
Late in the evening both Tom and I went for a short swim. We all played Perudo and Tom and Adrian played chess, then Tom went out to sleep on the roof!
We retraced our steps to Kenmare, arriving there at 12.45, just in time to wave to Renee and Lena who were leaving with Pippa and David just as we pulled in. We walked around and went in Supervalu.
We took the road to Kilgarvan looking for somewhere to stop for lunch and eventually stopped just after Kilgarvan having turned off on a different road to Macroom. The scenery was hilly and rocky with a stream running by. It was warm but windy. We passed the apparent highest pub in Ireland on this road. It was 2.40 when we set off after lunch, so we headed towards Cork as quickly as we could. We reached Cork at 4.30 and enjoyed driving through this pleasant town which Simon likened to Dublin (Simon, Tom and Emma were all travelling with us).
We retraced our steps to Dungarvan, getting there just before 6 o'clock. We now needed a campsite. The first one we located at Clonea Bay was voted a miss – very resorty and "holiday camp-ish". We continued north easterly up the coast, past Stradbally Cove which we had visited before.
We hit the jackpot at Bunmahon with a little campsite adjacent to a sandy cove, with a river running beside it and a village close by. It was tattily static at one end, but pleasantly "touring" at the other. Best of all it cost only £7 for all of us – including the small tent – and free hot showers too!
Simon prepared and cooked a delicious meal of chicken in lemon sauce and Emma made an excellent apple crumble. Tom cycled to the shop to get some cream and both Adrian and I had a short cycle – mine a puff to the top of the hill.
We all walked out across the wide sandy beach which was misty in the fading light, with a large moon shining on to the sea from a lovely sky. We walked back beside the river which joins the sea here over rapids.
After a mammoth wash up we played 'Perudo' – all of us ending with one "die" each but finally one by me!
Si and Tom retired to the tent and Emma joined us in the Tiv.
Sunday 17th August 112 miles
A lovely morning. I walked on to the beach. We had breakfast and left at 10.40.
We were completing today our drive around the coast of Ireland, begun last year as our "Road around Britain and Ireland" by driving eastwards to Rosslare.
There is some very pleasant coastal scenery here. We drove past Tramore, supposedly one of Ireland's biggest resorts, but what we saw was very low-key. We saw the long sand spit we had walked on before.
At Clohernagh we turned off to Ballymacaw where we happened upon Ballymacaw Cove, a dear little sandy cove between high rocks.
There were only two cars when we arrived, but then church must have turned out, as cars were coming thick and fast by the time we left.
Dunmore East was an attractive little place with a busy fishing harbour.
We went into a small supermarket and used up a lot of our Irish change on food and had a last ice cream. We ate them looking across the entrance to Waterford Harbour. On the way out we passed lots of restored thatched cottages – some were in the process of being thatched.
At Passage East we took the ferry across the Barrow River (£5).
By now the weather was hot. The scenery was very Devon looking.
We now needed somewhere for lunch and headed south on the "Ring of Hook". We passed a nice beach at Duncannon and just afterwards drove on to a beach with a sign saying "no ploughing", but the sand was soft and we feared getting stuck.
We eventually stopped just before the Hook Lighthouse beside a tiny, stony rocky cove with "Pancake Rock" type rocks. Waves came crashing in. We sat outside on the hummocky, tufty grass to have lunch. Miniature Michaelmas daisies grew beside the sea. We put up the table and put out the food on that.
We had bought some home-made meringues in the shop at Dunmore East and these made a delicious desert with bananas and cream. We lazed around in this idyllic spot for some time before walking the short distance to the lighthouse and left about 4 o'clock.
We drove up the eastern side of the Hook Peninsula, passing a lot of painted farm implements at Fethard which we had photographed before and looking across to Bannow Bay at Saltmills before heading for Wellington Bridge. Just beyond here was "Neville's Garage" which we had visited in 1991 and viewed the collection of vintage cars waiting to be restored. Adrian peered through the window to see what there was now (it was closed, being Sunday). There was still a lot of cars, but not as many as before.
At Hilltown we turned south and eventually came to Kilmore Quay which was busy and had a large harbour with lots of fishing boats. There were also lots more attractive thatched cottages here.
This most south easterly corner of Ireland is very flat and the roads seem like a maze. We eventually reached the sea at the south-western corner of Lady's Island Lake. The beach here was very long and sandy with sand dunes looking like New Zealand's 90 mile Beach. The lake matched the blue of the sky and had white swans swimming on it.
The remains of a steam engine stood nearby. This would have been a nice place to have "overnighted".
At the northern end of Lady's Island Lake we passed the Tacumshane Windmill – like last time, not where we expected from the map and likewise the "Lobster Pot" which we had eaten at in 1991.
We had trouble in finding Carnsore Point and found ourselves at the south eastern corner of Lady's Island Lake but there didn't seem to be a road to the point itself.
We drove back again through the pilgrimage place called "Our Lady's Island" and looked at a campsite just to the north, but Emma thought she had seen one at Rosslare Harbour itself – there wasn't however, and we drove back to one at St Margaret's Beach. It was still sunny but cooling quickly (7.45).
Simon got busy making omelettes for everyone and we ate outside before walking out under an almost full moon to the beach itself and another collection of fishing boats. We returned and had a game of Yahtzee before our last night in Ireland.
Monday 18th August 204 miles
A beautiful morning. We awoke early and got organised to leave at 7.45. We drove back to Rosslare Harbour, stopping for diesel and to try and spend our last Irish change. We found out that the purple and gold flags and paraphernalia everywhere belong to Welford hurling team, the finals of which were yesterday.
We had a moment's anxiety while approaching the ticket booth as we suddenly thought we may have had to collect our amended ticket (adding three more adult passengers) elsewhere, but all was well and we boarded – eating cereal on the way and bread and marmalade organised by Simon, settling down on board with a cup of coffee.
The crossing was smooth and passed quickly with reading/sleeping/discussing. Around midday Simon got some sandwiches together and we had a snack lunch. We all went out to watch as we came up Milford Sound to Pembroke, arriving just after 1.00 pm.
By the time we left Pembroke it was 1.30. We had a trouble-free journey home, stopping off once. We crossed the "old" Severn Bridge, prettily painted in blue and white and reached the Aust services (now called Severn View) at 5 o'clock in blazing sun.
We had a cup of tea and Stuart arrived and "collected" Emma. We left at 5.30 and arrived home at 6.45. It was still very warm and the garden looked good.
We drove on to Helvic Head which we had visited in 1991 and located the cove mentioned then. There was evidence on the roads that it had rained very heavily here recently. We made our way cross-country to Ardmore where we stopped to buy diesel and ice creams, and after viewing the beach, sausages for tea. We then located a suitable night stop overlooking Whiting Bay.
We spent some time reorganising the Tiv for three and then Tom cooked supper. Afterwards we all walked along the sandy beach, crossing a stony stream. Sand hoppers pinged up at our legs.
Emma phoned while I was preparing supper – excellent chicken breasts again followed by a superb bread-and-butter pudding.
Muckross lake and the waterfall
Looking north from the Beara peninsula
Bere Island from the campsite
The bay from Castletownbere
Looking across to the hills of Kerry
Adrian at Travara Strand
Early morning swim
Heather and gorse
Adrian by the lighthouse
Paddling at Barley Cove
The old railway viaduct at Ballydehob
Adrian at Lough Hyne
Red sails at Glandore
Looking across to Courtmacsherry from Timoleague
Lunch with Val, Mike and Tom near Dungarvan
Overnighter by Whiting bay
Breakfast outside by Whiting bay
Barbecue at Blarney
Tom in his 'bedroom'
Tom kissing the Blarney Stone
Tom being 'sacrificed' at Blarney
The estuary at Ringabella
Tom in 'last night's 'bedroom'
Tom & Adrian at Ringabella bay
Our family on the last night at St Margaret's beach campsite and beach
Saying goodbye to Emma at 'Severn View'
Dad & daughter on Whitesands beach
Passage East & the ferry
'No ploughing on the beach'
Lunch near Hook Head
Lady's Island Lake