So came my next adventure, a 996km road trip down the west coast of Ireland. The drive is aptly named the “Wild Atlantic Way” and I can see why it’s ranked one of the best driving routes in the world. The views, as you’ll soon see, are stunning. So stunning they bordered on distracting and I found myself stopping to take in the scenery around me.
Day one brought along a mixture of excitement and mild stress. The flight went without a hitch, on time, great. Picking up the rental car was again sorted with no issue. Timing, it seemed was the thorn in my side. When originally planning this trip, it didn’t get dark until 6pm. When the light started to fade at half 3, it was a race to fit in as many picturesque stops as possible before I reached my first Airbnb.
I’d flown into Shannon airport, which is just under half way down the West coast. On the first night I stayed in a lovely house not too far from the beautiful Banna beach, in a place called Ardfert. (Where I stayed on night one..) I’ll link all of the Airbnb’s I stayed in if you wish to follow my journey for yourself!
Day two I was up and about bright and early, wanting to make the most of the, what seemed good weather. As the drive reached it’s first hour, the weather didn’t fancy being kind. Mist, drizzle and a chill in the air. Good job I was driving and not hiking! One of the more picturesque stops I made on day two was at Slea Head.
As you can see, the weather looked awful. But with the road hugging the coast so tightly, it didn’t matter. If you love driving, you HAVE to drive the “Wild Atlantic Way”.
It’s for views like this that make the crappy weather totally worth it. I must admit, it didn’t improve throughout day two until I reached the destination of (Where I stayed on night two..). It was a little town called Caherciveen. I was hosted by the most wonderful lady. Her name was Uschi. She was full of stories of her travels around Europe, her time in Ireland and her dreams of opening a rock cafe for the language students and local children that live in the town. In the evening we went to a local pub and watched the Ireland vs Denmark World Cup qualifier. The atmosphere was fantastic after Ireland scored in the first five minutes. The end result however, 1-5 to Denmark dampened the spirits a little. But still a very enjoyable time was spent in Caherciveen.
Day three was welcomed with open arms. As was the sunshine that came with it. My first stop of the day was at Ballinskelligs castle. This was one of my favourite locations, not only because I got some great snaps of the castle, but I felt like a kid again, scrambling up the stairs and across the top walls. Fun fact about most of the castles in Ireland. When the English invaded, the inhabitants of the castles actually took to destroying their once were homes, in a sort of “if we can’t have it, neither can you” attitude.
Where I stayed on night three.. was in a beautiful spot. Near to the town of Glengarriff, but a steady 15 minute drive round amazingly windy and narrow roads made the stay there even more fun. The accommodation was in a plush loft. With a big screen tv and a heap of DvD’s too choose from. Cool Runnings was one of the choices, obviously I couldn’t turn down a watch of that classic!
Day four was, for location reasons, my most anticipated day. It certainly didn’t disappoint. The gem of the day would be Mizen head, but we’ll get that in a bit. As I drove down the West coast, I met lots of interesting people. Mainly in pubs to be quite honest. I got chatting with an older gentleman about where I’d visited and he started telling me about the 4 different types of tomb that once existed in Ireland. Here is a brief description and history behind the four different types.
My drive continued very South and a bit West. So much so that my next location was to be the most South-Western point in the whole of Ireland. Mizen Head. Now when it comes to the top spots of outstanding natural beauty, obviously somebody has put a gate there. This said gate was shut, being “out of tourist season”. Luckily me being a giant, I had no issue hopping over and continuing the path down to this view. I hadn’t travelled all that way to be denied the chance to sit on the cliff top and watch the world go by. I even saw three seals playing in the calmer waters back around the headland!
I wasn’t finished there. After a beef in Guinness stew for lunch in a local pub and a little top up of fuel I was back on the road to my next destination. Baltimore. Not much happens here, just another little coastal harbour. But the views were stunning, as was the sunset.
A short climb up a hill and over some rocks led me to this next picture. It was such a relaxing spot, sat watching the waves crash against the rocks. It gave me a good excuse to try out my camera in some different settings. As I was leaving, a wedding party turned up for a photoshoot. I can’t name them for choosing this location, it was magical.
After all the excitement of the day it was time to head to (where I stayed on my fourth night..). This time it was a beautiful farmhouse, in the County Cork countryside. I always love turning up at Airbnb’s, you never know what you’ll find. This time I was accompanied by this adorable trio, who’s names escape me. Although, the one on the right is nick-named Churchill. I think we can all see why!
Onto day five. “I wasn’t ready for my adventure to end”, I thought to myself, then remembered I still had a whole day of exploring to do. My first location of the day was only a 5 minute drive from where I stayed.
It was called Drombeg stone circle and is said to be the second best example of a druid stone circle behind the famous Stone Henge. I get an odd feeling whenever I visit ancient places like these. To imagine what it would have been like at the time of building this structural feat. To stand where others had done over 1000 years ago, puts things into perspective a little, but at the same time saddens me. To think back then the world was a much purer and healthier place. No factories making harmful plastics, no chance of global warming coming from anywhere but the geothermal activity created by the planet itself. I’d have loved to have witnessed that planet.
My next location on my drive allowed me back in time again. Timoleague Abbey, still used as a burial site to this day, although you have to question its structural integrity. Renovation work is being undertaken to repair outside walls. You can still walk around the collapsed halls of the Abbey, visiting the library, common rooms, chapel and garden areas. Standing in absolute silence, you can try to picture what it must have been like when in use.
Lunch time coincided with my next location and a 45 minute drive to get me there. The Old Head of Kinsale. Someone had a clever idea and decided to build a private golf course of the tip of the headland, so that’s no longer accessible for everyone to enjoy. Although there’s not a bad view from the cliffs that look out to the tip of the headland. The glare from the sun was so bright, I genuinely couldn’t get a decent picture. But I did manage to get one of just how turquoise the water looked.
The weather was coming over grey and the wind was picking up. I didn’t care, sat tucking in to my lunch and watching a seal bob around in the calm waters. One of my Airbnb hosts described them as “dogs of the sea” and I can see why. Their brown speckled heads and long whiskers really do show some similarities from a distance.
This was to be my last stop before my drive to Cork city where I would spend my last evening. I sat contemplating the journey I had taken and how incredibly lucky I had been to see all these amazing places. Then I started thinking about adventures to come and whether I’d ever come back this way. I think I will, most definitely. It’s a beautiful part of the world. Great people, great food and a great craic.
I’ll leave you now with a picture from my favourite location on my Wild Atlantic Way drive. A sunset view from the Baltimore beacon. I wandered around this spot for near on an hour, watching the waves crash against the rocks. A wedding party even turned up to do a photo shoot. Who can blame them?
Thanks a million, Ireland.
If you have enjoyed. reading all about my wandering along the Wild Atlantic Way, be sure to give this post a like. if you’re interested, why not check out my post from when I visited Morocco. Marrakech, a foodie’s rooftop tour. I’ll be soon heading out to Nuremberg to visit some friends. They’ll be showing me how Germany does Christmas, with their traditional markets and I can’t wait.
To see some more pictures from my wanderings so far, check out my Instagram on the side of this page. I also have a Gallery where I put all my favourite pictures from my 2017 wandering.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
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