Wednesday saw us say goodbye to Wavecrest campsite and head over to campsite number 4 on the list which was supposed to be Garrettstown, Kinsale however we changed tack and decided to head for Dunmore East Holiday Park instead. Ever since we got the 2017 Ireland Camping Guide booklet from Galey Bay campsite (our first stop) we have been in two minds whether to go to Garrettstown campsite or not, and this indecisiveness has shown that we are not fully committed to the site. Since we haven’t pre-booked and paid for the site (thank god) we are free to go somewhere else, and this is what we decided to do.
The better half thought two long journeys of 6 hours or so close together would be a bit stupid so we decided to head over close to Rosslare and spend a few days in that area. The journey from Wavecrest campsite, County Kerry to Dunmore East Holiday Park, County Waterford took around 6 hours and it was a journey less than 200 miles. The journey did involve finishing off the Ring of Kerry as well as other slower roads, but the extra time behind the wheel was well worth it for the views. If you’re interested in reading about the journey (which I thought deserved its own post) you can read about it here.
When we reached Dunmore East getting to the campsite was a bit of a faff, but we eventually found it and got a pitch. After the views of Galey Bay campsite, Nagles campsite and Wavecrest campsite I have to admit Dunmore East was a huge comedown but then we had been spoiled up until now. All in all the campsite at Dunmore East wasn’t too bad, and the campsite had a nice vibe about it. Because of the time it took to get to Dunmore East campsite we didn’t have much time to go and explore so we spent the rest of the day in the van, in the dry, chilling out.
The following day was cloudy, but dry so it gave the perfect opportunity to head off in to the village and see what Dunmore East had to offer. Going to Dunmore East was an off the cuff decision and I didn’t get a chance to research the place, therefore I had no clue about how big the village was, what there was to do, what the “must see” places were or anything. With no ideas what to expect we donned the hiking boots and went off to explore.
"And this is what confronted us on our walk"
Dunmore East is very small however there is loads to do and see, which surprised me somewhat, and we managed to spend around three hours – which for us is pretty good. Starting at the harbor, we worked our way back towards the campsite stopping off at every cove on the way, having a stroll through the park to admire the flowers and also stop at Bay Café for a quick drink and to wind up the sparrows. If you want to read a detailed account of our trip around Dunmore East (which I thought deserved its own post) you can do so here. If you want to see some photos of Dunmore East you can do so in my “gallery of Dunmore East”. I have to say this little village surprised me and we definitely struck it lucky choosing this site. The decision could have been a disaster, fortunately it wasn’t.
"A short slide show of Dunmore East - It really is a great village"
With the second night over at Dunmore East it was time for the short journey (about an hour) over to the final campsite of our tour and the final overnight stop at Carne Beach Holiday Park. The drive from Dunmore East to Carne Beach was pretty uneventful in all respects. The scenery, whilst pleasant, wasn’t spectacular but then given the sights we had seen during our Irish adventure this didn’t matter too much. In some ways it was nice just to get behind the wheel and drive without rubber necking at the scenery and trying to take it all in.
Arriving at Carne Beach Holiday Park I instantly knew it was not my kind of campsite. The site is huge and is a static caravan site with a field out the back for tourers. We only needed it for one night, as the stop over point for the ferry back to Blighty so I wasn’t overly concerned about the site.
"The last night at Carne Beach Holiday Park"
We had managed to pack a lot in during our Irish adventure and since it had effectively come to an end we decided to stay in the van for the last afternoon and not venture out. As the afternoon turned to evening the locals started arriving for the weekend and the field rapidly filled up. All of a sudden there were loads (and I mean loads) of kids running around, screaming and yelling, riding bikes and kicking balls etc. Our peaceful day changed in an instant. The kids were running riot until gone 11.00 pm and the parents (of which there didn’t seem to be many for the number of kids running around) were up until gone 2.00am. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep, which given I needed to be off the site by 7.00am at the latest to catch the ferry and then endure a 7 (which actually took 9!) hour drive across Blighty, wasn’t ideal. It’s a shame our trip in Ireland had to end on this note, but I guess that’s the problem with family sites – we don’t have this issue in the UK as we always choose to stay at adult only sites (and adult only sites with curfews) to avoid any similar issues.
When we normally leave a campsite early doors we make a conscious effort to pack up as quietly as we can, however this time we didn’t bother. We didn’t purposefully make excessive noise or anything like that (I am not that petty) it’s just that I didn’t go out of my way to be super quiet.
The drive from the campsite to the ferry port took hardly any time at all, which is good as missing the ferry would have been a total pain, what with two sailings a day, and we arrived in plenty of time. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive regarding find the port, checking in, boarding etc. but it all went very smoothly and is very easy.
The ferry back to Blighty was the Isle of Inishmore, which is larger than the Dublin Swift we sailed on to Ireland. The Holyhead – Dublin crossing took an hour and fifteen minutes whereas the Rosslare – Pembroke crossing took four long hours. Even though the journey back to England (Wales) took longer it was a more comfortable crossing because the boat wasn’t so packed. The Dublin Swift felt claustrophobic and there weren’t many seats available. There were loads of club class seats, but I am not going to pay an extra 36 Euro just to sit in a red leather chair for an hour and fifteen minutes!
Approaching Pembroke our Irish adventure had well and truly come to an end, however our holiday was not quite over as we still had to drive from Wales over to East Anglia, a journey (according to the sat nav) of 448 miles comprising getting through Wales and on to the M4 right across the country to the M25, around the London orbital to the M11 and then picking up the A14 back home.
There journey home was pretty standard and uneventful. The thing that instantly became apparent back on British roads was the driving attitude and behavior of British drivers, and how impatient, rude and aggressive they are. Having had two weeks driving around Ireland with other road users that are courteous, polite and everything the British drivers aren’t as soon as I got out of the port it became clear I was back in my home country.
"After 2 weeks of little traffic - It's back on the M25 orbital and a jam!"
"All pitched up at Wavecrest"
Campsite number three on our “Irish Adventure” is Wavecrest, Caherdaniel which is on the Ring of Kerry. This is the Campsite I have most been looking forward to, partly because I have to drive some of the Ring of Kerry to get to it, partly because it is where I can get a rib boat trip to see some whales, dolphins and other marine life and partly because it is possible to fish on site, and I am desperate to cast a line before I return back to England.
The drive from Doolin to Wavecrest Campsite went very smoothly, and was much easier than I was expecting. It was a long journey, but the scenery along the way was absolutely stunning and it well worth it. If you want to read a detailed account of my journey to Wavecrest Campsite please feel free to
After a few wet and miserable days it was nice to see the sun break through the clouds and the skies turn blue again. We have been fortunate with our travelling days in that they have all been nice and sunny, but most importantly dry. As we pulled out of Doolin earlier in the day it looked like the drive over was going to be a wet one but it soon cleared up so happy days!
First impressions of Wavecrest Campsite are positive. There is a well-stocked shop, café, deli and fishing supplies shop near the entrance so we won’t need to go out and find any food/drink which is good. The way the pitches are laid out is a little haphazard, which is cool. The toilet/shower block is nice and clean although there doesn’t seem to be that many toilets/showers for the number of pitches. This shouldn’t create too many problems though. The pitches aren’t the biggest and once your unit is on them there is no room for anything else. The views from the site are absolutely stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. All in all I have to say I am very impressed.
With the boat trips sorted, as much as it could be, it was time to take a tour around the site’s coastline and find a suitable fishing spot. Getting to the water is much easier at Wavecrest than it was at Doolin, and after a bit of rock hopping I found what looked to be the ideal spot. The expedition to find a suitable fishing spot was, un-beknown to us at the time, carried out at high tide which presented another question. “What would the coastline be like at low tide and would it still be possible to fish from the identified spot? There was only one thing I could do, and that was wait for low tide and then go on another recce. Low tide wasn’t going to be anytime soon, in fact it was going to be mid-morning the following day so there was Little I could do until then.
The first night at Wavecrest Campsite was windy, and the van rocked around a bit, but it was not half as bad as the previous three nights at Nagles Campsite in Doolin. Even though we are higher up and closer to the sea at Wavecrest Campsite there is more shelter from the wind, so it didn’t affect us that much.
The first day at Wavecrest was a dry one, however there was no way I was going anywhere until I had heard from Mr O’Shea regarding a rib boat trip. Getting a boat trip was priority number one for me. The call came around 11.00 am, and with no boat trip for the day confirmed (and a promise of a call back the next day) the decision was made to take a walk from Wavecrest Campsite and head to Derrynane National Park via Caherdaniel and Derrynane Bay. I am not a serious walker so we devised an easy circular walking route (using some of the brochures and literature from reception) to take in some of the sights and points of interest. The walk took us to the Oghman Stone (although we couldn’t see any sign of the ancient alphabet), to Derrynane House (which is not as impressive as I thought it was going to be), through Derrynane Bay (which is absolutely stunning), up to some fort (little more than a pile of rocks on the ground), past the Blind Piper Pub (a horrible pub that is a complete rip off) and up the N70 Ring of Kerry back to Wavecrest Campsite. The whole walk took around three hours but there were loads of stops for photos and a ten minutes pit stop at the pub to wet the whistle.
If you want to read about our walk from Wavecrest to Derrnane you can do so here. If you just want to see some of the wonderful sites of the area take a look at the following slide show, courtesy of Youtube.
The rest of the day was spent chilling out, looking out to sea (my wife was adamant she was going to see a whale tail striking the water’s surface – although the only place we were likely to see this (if at all) was on a rib boat trip), trying to identify the various birds and soaking up the awesome scenery. Unfortunately, we missed the low tide so the fishing recce had to wait for another time. One thing I did see was another resident fishing off the pontoon, which I was specifically told to stay off of when I asked reception if it was okay to cast a line off the pontoon. Hmmmm……. The phrase of “One rule for one and all that” springs to mind! I have to say the rugged shoreline of the West Coast of Ireland is something else, and I can see why many tourists come back year after year.
The second night was stiller and more peaceful than the first however we woke to mist, fog and poor visibility. Once again, I didn’t want to do anything until I had heard from Mr O’Shea about the boat trip.
The better half was keen to head on over to some fort (a 14 mile round trip) which obviously required the Brompton bikes. I wasn’t too keen on the fort (I didn’t fancy the 4km hill climb up to it) and we agreed the better half would go alone and I would wait for the call. There was an issue in that if the call came and the boat trip was before she got back what we would do, but we thought it best to deal with this if it happened.
As the day went on I was getting more and more concerned about the boat trip, and Mr O’Shea had not called with an update. I have to admit that I thought this wasn’t very fair, since he knew we the rest of the day and tomorrow before we had to move on and he knew if there was going to be a trip or not, yet he was keeping me in the dark. If there weren’t going to be a trip I wish he would just be honest and say so, it would at least give me the chance to phone around and see if I can find an alternative. As the day went on I got more and more riled, although I had been assured by Mr O’Shea he would call and all I could do was trust him.
The day came, went and turned in to evening. Since I had still not heard from Mr O’Shea I assumed there was no boat trip (although I wish he had the common decency and courtesy to tell me himself) so I went to reception and asked if there were any alternative boat trips. The lady behind reception was fully aware of what was going on, turned funny and snapped “Take a look through the brochures and see what you can find”. Okay, I appreciate Skellig Boat Tours and Wavecrest Campsite are affiliated and they help each other generate income but this reaction was rude, unprofessional and totally uncalled for. I gave Mr O’Shea as much time as I could – we went to book a boat tour as soon as we arrived and I was willing to accept any boat tour. If he couldn’t provide one, that’s not my problem but I should have been told as soon as he was aware so we didn’t waste our holiday time waiting around for a call that never came. This is not how I do business back home, this is not how I treat my customers and I don’t expect to be treated (i.e. kept in the dark like a mushroom) either. The whole affair was a real disappointment and it left a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s such a shame because Wavecrest Campsite is fantastic, but the way the receptionist suddenly turned during this episode has kind of put me off returning here when I next come to Ireland for a holiday, which I can tell you won’t be long at all.
Whilst waiting for Mr O’Shea’s call (that never came) I managed to catch the low tide and do a recce on the fishing spot I found. As I made my way around the rocky shoreline to the spot I was stunned to see the rock I had sat on at high water, with my toes in the water was now about seven feet above the water line. Despite this there was still a good depth of water, there were no huge rocks I could get snagged on to worry about and I had some idea of the depth of water I would be fishing in. Now I had an idea of what was going on I could make a definite plan to fish the spot as the tide was coming in right up to high water and probably a couple of hours the other side too.
I was hoping that the third, and last full day at Wavecrest was going to be spent on a rib boat trip, however Mr O’Shea failed to call and provide any update and it was now too late to try and find and alternative the boat trip was no a confirmed non-goer. I was disappointed but I was more angry about being gullible and stupid enough to put our trust in Mr O’Shea and Skellig Boat Tours. I won’t be making that mistake again, and I will warn others of my experience so they don’t get burnt like I did.
The weather was a bit dull and misty, but at least it was dry so that’s something I guess. Before I came to Ireland I was told by many people the charm of this country is the changeable weather. Hmmmm…….. If weather that is misty one second, heaving down with rain the next and then bright and sunny the next is their idea of “charm” they are welcome to it. I don’t find it charming at all, and having to go out with a rain jacket, warm jumper, sun cream and hat all the time is a right faff. I digress……
Other than a boat trip we had done everything that was on the ‘tick list’ however there was another point of interest, as pointed out by the lady on reception that may be worth a look – Lambs Head. Lambs Head even has its own sign post on the N70 Ring of Kerry, where there is “rock fishing. Dog fish, wrasse and conger eel”. Being a keen angler Lambs Head seemed a suitable place to go so that’s where we headed.
Getting to Lambs Head involves walking along the N70 Ring of Kerry towards Caherdaniel, taking a left at the “Rock fishing……..” sign above and following the road all the way to the end, which is labelled as a pier, although I would refer to it as a very small harbour.
The walk to Lambs Head is an easy one and there aren’t many ups and downs, but it is quite a distance. The scenery to Lambs Head is, as with all of this area, is absolutely stunning and along the way you can see the sandy shores of Derrynane Bay and some rugged, rocky coastline too. Once past the caravan park the road becomes deserted, other than the grazing sheep and it remained like that all the way to the pier/harbor. If you’re interested you can see my “Walk to Lambs Head” photo gallery here. The entire walk was about two and a half hours, however it did include lots of stops for photos and ten minutes or so at the pier itself.
For a taster of some of the sights and scenery on the way to Lambs Head take a look at the following slide show, courtesy of Youtube.
After the walk I finally got to cast a line in the Atlantic Ocean and do a spot of rock fishing. I have never been rock fishing before and where I come from there are no opportunities to do this, so I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. I obviously did a bit of research before leaving home, although I couldn’t find an “idiot’s guide”. One of the biggest issues was I only had rubber lures for bait, and not anything natural so I wasn’t too sure if these fake rubber baits even caught fish.
I had a few casts and managed to get a bite. The fish wasn’t huge (maybe 50cm or so) and I managed to get it all the way to the rocks and just as I lifted it out of the water the damn thing came off the hook. To say I was gutted was an understatement, and whilst the other half kept saying it was a catch there is no way I could count it as one. I don’t even know what species of fish it was – all I could see is that it was brown. Maybe it was a wrasse? Maybe it was a Pollock? I’ll never know. I had few more casts before I got a massive bird’s nest tangle. I couldn’t be bothered to sort it out on the rock so I cut my losses, collected it all up, chucked it in my tackle bag and called it a day. It wasn’t the most successful fishing trip ever, but at least I can now say I have been rock fishing in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland.
After a reasonably quiet night the time had come for us to leave Wavecrest campsite and move on to our next one. I had managed to put the whole Skellig Boat Tours scenario behind me, as Mr O’Shea still hadn’t called when just as we were about to head down to the toilet block to empty the tanks he arrived in his rib boat and moored against the pontoon. Talk about rub salt in the wounds – I decided then the bloke is an unreliable waste of time, and if he didn’t want my money that’s his look out. The stupid thing is I offered to charter the boat for just me and the wife. It would have cost 350 Euro but I was prepared to do if that is what I needed to do to get a whale and dolphin trip. The thing is Mr O’Shea didn’t even give us the chance – IS that good business sense or what?
Seeing the rib boat moor up did affect me, I won’t lie and it left a bitter taste in my mouth and a negative on what otherwise was a great few days. Oh well, onwards and upwards to the next site, which was meant to be Garrettstown, Kinsale but is now going to be Dunmore East Holiday Park, Dunmore East.
After the wettest night of the Irish adventure so far the time had come to say goodbye to Nagles campsite an head on over to Wavecrest Campsite in Caherdaniel. Don’t get me wrong, Nagles campsite is very good but I was ready to leave, and would have happily done so the prior day. We had done everything we wanted to in Doolin other than fish – but this is only because I couldn’t find a suitable spot close enough to the water’s edge, despite spending several hours searching. Had I not pre-booked and paid for the stay at Nagle’s campsite a few months ago I would have left the previous day, but hey ho. Four nights was simply too much.
Packing up in the wind and rain is never fun, however it did ease up just as I drove over the motor home service point to empty the tanks. The cloud didn’t lift though and the visibility across the pier was terrible. In fact, it was so bad the ferries were sounding their fog horns – something we hadn’t heard before.
Turning out of Nagles campsite the sat nav found signal and displayed the 157 miles to Wavecrest campsite. I was apprehensive about this journey since it involved part of theRing of Kerry, and what I had read about it I had it in my mind the roads were going to be very narrow and tight (just wide enough for one vehicle), twisty and also slow. I am not a fan of single track roads and after my experience in the Lake District last year I have a bit of a fear of them.
Regardless of my nerves/apprehensions we were going to Wavecrest and we were going around the Ring of Kerry.
The Lonely Planet guide suggested driving clockwise around the Ring of Kerry which, as I found out on the internet many months ago, is against the flow of tour buses and coaches. Everything I had read online basically said you’re stupid travelling clockwise around the Ring of Kerry and should go with the tour buses and coaches.
I was secretly hoping to get caught behind a tour bus for three reasons. Firstly, being stuck behind a tour bus would keep me slow and there would be no pressure from other drivers to go faster than I wanted to. Secondly, I could follow the bus through the single track sections – no one argues with buses, and if you can get a bus through the gap there would be more than enough room for my little Accordo. Thirdly, driving slower would allow me to enjoy the view.
The journey to Wavecrest campsite was going to take us down the N67 (Wild Atlantic Way), N85, M18, N18, M20, N21, N22, N72 (start of the Ring of Kerry), N70 (Ring of Kerry). I know many people would have taken the Wild Atlantic Way to the Ring of Kerry, but we didn’t want to spend hours driving down tiny little roads to get to a busy campsite that could potentially be full and have no pitches on our arrival.
I appreciate the views would probably have been better following the Wild Atlantic Way (although some of the views on the route we took were stunning!) but we wanted to get to Wavecrest to get a pitch. We had travelled along some of the Wild Atlantic Way and we had little interest in doing more of it. Besides, we were going to navigate the Ring of Kerry, where the views (as we found out) are something else!
The journey to the N72 was easy and quiet. No matter how much driving I do around Ireland the quietness of the roads never ceases to amaze me. Even on a sunny(ish) Saturday afternoon there was hardly any traffic. We did have one dilemma on the N67, and that was the loss of one of the fridge covers. Whilst it was annoying (and it is going to cost us however much to replace it) in the big scheme of things, and thinking about what could have gone wrong, this was no big deal.
Supplies had run low during our trip so on route we had to get some food. I really didn’t want to drive the Accordo around a super market carpark, I have witnessed some sever damage to vehicles in supermarket car parks and I don’t want the Accordo to suffer the same fate so I vowed never to enter a supermarket carpark in it. Consequently, we found a large(ish) service station with a shop and bought some supplies from there. This was far from ideal because the lack of meat on offer (there was sausages and bacon – neither of which my better half is keen on) meant we were facing a vegetarian diet for the rest of our stay in Ireland – unless we went out for dinner of course.
Driving through the small towns and villages I kept an eye out on any side of the road parking we could quickly jump in and then have a bit of a search for some kind of food shop. We drove through several places where there were food shops but there was no parking, or by the time we had seen the shop and spotted the parking it was too late. Driving past a Tesco supermarket (the first one we had seen in Ireland) I offered to turn around and run the carpark gauntlet but the negative response from the other half, followed by “we need to get there” was all the instruction I need. Whilst driving through some small town I noticed a Tesco sign with an arrow pointing the way on the side of a building and just before it was a huge layby which was virtually empty. If I wanted to eat meat over the rest of our Irish adventure there was only one thing for it – just turn in to the layby without saying a word, which I did. The better half was dispatched to Tesco whilst I stayed with the van and, long story short, I was going to get to use my canine teeth over the rest of our Irish trip. Result!
As we reached the N72 and Killarney and followed the brown signs to the Ring of Kerry the traffic significantly increased. The time had come, it was time for me to face my demons and drive around the Ring of Kerry. The Sat nav was trying to send us clockwise around the Ring of Kerry since this was the quickest way to Wavecrest campsite. The plan was to travel the entire Ring of Kerry anticlockwise, i.e. the long way to the campsite.
As we commenced our drive around the Ring of Kerry the traffic seemed to almost disappear. Okay, there were some vehicles on the road, but not many. In addition to this, the road remained two way with plenty of room. I did encounter one or two sections that were only wide enough for one vehicle, but these were bridges and very short. There were a few tour buses around but all the ones we came across were parked up in laybys giving the passengers a leg stretch and chance to take in the views and capture a few photos.
ll the fears I had about driving the Ring of Kerry were dumbfounded. Driving the Ring of Kerry I had to ask myself what was going on? Where are the single vehicle wide sections? Where are all the slow tour buses? Where was all the traffic? It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in June and there was very little traffic. The thing that made me laugh is that man of the roads back home where I am from are narrower than the section of the Ring of Kerry from Killarney to Caher Daniel, and man of the roads back home are also far busier too.
The only criticisms I have regarding the section of the Ring of Kerry we drove is:
Almost the entire Ring of Kerry is stunningly beautiful however where the beauty really goes up a notch is when the rocky shoreline and islands come in to view, which is a few miles from Caherdaniel and around Castle Cove/Derrynane.
I have to admit that when I saw the Wavecrest campsite sign on the side of the road there was a moment of disappointment that the drive had come to an end, however it only lasted a few short minutes as the realization that we had made it in one piece kicked in and also that we would finish off the rest of the Ring of Kerry after our stay at Wavecrest Campsite.
The footage above is just a taster of what you can expect driving the Ring of Kerry. To see the entire playlist of driving the Ring of Kerry follow this link.
"Nagles Campsite, Doolin"
For our second campsite on our Irish adventure we took the decision to head over to the west coast, travel some of the Wild Atlantic Way and stop off at Nagles campsite in Doolin. Nagles campsite was the only campsite I had managed to pre-book and pay for (hence securing a pitch) for our Irish adventure so I knew there would be a pitch ready for our arrival – which is always comforting.
Nagles campsite is different to Galey Bay campsite in every way. Nagles isn’t huge, but it is larger than Galey Bay and can accommodate far more motor homes, campervans, caravans and tents and going from being one of two units in Galey Bay to one of the best part of a hundred is a shock to the system as there were people everywhere. I was told the west coast of Ireland was popular, but I didn’t appreciate it was this popular, and this is supposed to be low season. High season must be absolutely horrible! At Galey bay campsite we were fortunate to get a ‘private’ pitch and I could look out of all sides of the van and see no other units. Here, I can see units (plural) out of every window – there is no privacy whatsoever.
Doolin is a popular place and full of day trippers, which given the day trips available (boat trips to the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher) is not that surprising. Consequently, the pier is full of people, cars, buses, motorbikes etc. as is the main street of small shops. Some would call Doolin alive and vibrant. I would call it overcrowded and cramped. The scenery around Doolin is stunning, and I can see why people flock here, just like we did.
The first afternoon was spent looking around, getting our bearings and sorting out a trip to Inis Oirr, one of the Aran Islands. We also spent a couple of hours walking around the cliff tops trying to find a suitable rock fishing spot, which was a fruitless exercise and a total waste of time. That said, it did give us something to do for a while. After getting nice and sweaty climbing around on the rocks a drink was called for so it was time to venture to the local shops, which is around a one kilometer walk.
Whilst in the shop I thought I would ask the teen boy behind the counter about sending a post card to the UK. I enquired about the local post office and was told it was five miles away however there was a post box just over the road, so “there was no need to travel all that way” When I asked to buy a stamp the teen boy said that I needed to go to the post office to buy one! This was of little help, but the comment did make me smile.
With the second day’s activity pre-booked we made our way to the pier to board the ferry to the Inis Oirr, the smallest (and closest) of the Aran Islands. I really wanted to take the good camera (the DSLR) and my wide angle lens and super zoom (for the bird life and the cliffs of Moher excursion at the end of the day) however the dull, overcast and misty weather put a stop to that. There was no point lugging around my good photography equipment (which is very heavy) when visibility was so poor, so I opted for the small compact camera instead and decided to take snaps, rather than the photographs I wanted. I was disappointed as I was hoping today was going to be the day I saw my first puffin in real life (on the Cliffs of Moher trip) and I wanted to get some good photos, but hey ho……
A trip to the Aran Islands is obviously very popular, and as we got to the pier we were greeted with crowds of tourists all waiting to board whatever boat they had booked. The whole thing was chaotic however it didn’t take too long to sort everyone out, get them on the respective boats and head out to sea. The sea was pretty calm, although there were a few ‘bumpy’ moments, but the thirty minute crossing was pretty uneventful. I was hoping to see the wild dolphin that the lady selling the tours said lived between Doolin and Inis Oirr, but that never happened. I was also hoping to see some bird life, but other than a group of three (does that count as a flock?) razorbills there were none of our feathered friends around either.
Once on Inis Oirr we were all herded of the boat and instantly came across locals selling horse and trap tours and bike hire, and I instantly thought this was going to be one of those days of being exploited down every street – however it didn’t turn out like this in the end…..
We decided, before going to Inis Oirr, we were going to walk it so the horse and trap tours and bike hire were of no interest. We had a map of sorts (it was a touristy one given to us when we booked the tour), we knew what points of interest were a “must see” so off we went. Inis Oirr is a strange place, and totally unlike anywhere else I have been before. I suppose I don’t really know what I was expecting but that’s all part of the adventure right?
If you like walking, like being out in the fresh air and like to look at some history Inis Oirr is the ideal place. If you are looking for excitement, an adrenaline rush or anything like that Inis Oirr is not the place for you at all. It is a small and quaint island, and the Lonely Planet guide was useful providing a little history – although how accurate it is I wouldn’t like to comment. There are roads and pathways all over the island, and tourists are pretty much free to roam wherever they want.
For an island that is meant to rely on tourism to generate income the locals don’t make the most of it. Once the touting for the horse trap tours and cycle hire is over and done with you don’t get touted for anything else and are left alone. I thought there would be plenty of mobile food/drink outlets dotted around the island, but other than a solitary van at the ship wreck there were none.
After several hours wondering around the Inis Oirr, taking photos of the must see sites etc. we stopped off at the hotel close to the pier (I forget is name) for a bite to eat. The food was very reasonably priced, and whilst it wasn’t super cheap it wasn’t overly expensive either. Food/drink is a prime opportunity to fleece the tourists, but the locals on Inis Oirr didn’t do. I didn’t think 14.5 Euros for a ham sandwich, a cheese and ham toasted sandwich, a large bowl of chips and two soft drinks was too bad at all.
With the sites done, other than the Holy Well which was quite a trek (and I’d had enough of walking), full bellies and an hour and a half before the boat back we decided to sit on the beach. When we arrived on Inis Oirr I didn’t appreciate how pretty the beach was – it was dull, overcast and misty.
At this point in time it wasn’t exactly blazing sunshine (which was actually a good thing as there is very little shelter on the island and I would have burned to a crisp walking around it) and the skies were still grey, but it was a little brighter. Looking at the beach I realized what a stunning beach it is. The sea was turquoise and clear, the sand was golden and the surrounding area looked stunning. If I was the sort of person that liked to spend all day on the beach this would be the sort of beach I would make a bee line for. There were a few people on the beach, but the majority of them were like us simply killing time waiting for the ferry.
We sat on the top deck of the ferry (to get a good view of the Cliffs of Moher on the way back) and whilst waiting for the stragglers to arrive my wife pointed out something large near the surface of the water. The object ended up being the resident wild dolphin and whilst she didn’t show herself for very long she did treat us to a couple of jumps and dives. Seeing a wild dolphin has been on my wish list for many years, so to see one made the trip to Inis Oirr very special. I didn’t have time to turn my camera on or get the phone in camera mode so I couldn’t take any photos, but I saw her (I believe Sandy is just one of the names people have given her) and that was enough for me.
For some more photos of Inis Oirr take a look at the following slide show, courtesy of Youtube.
The trip over from Inis Oirr to the Cliffs of Moher was cold and breezy, the sea was choppy and visibility wasn’t very good either. The Cliffs of Moher are impressive, I can’t deny it, but we didn’t get very close to them and we couldn’t see the nesting birds either. My wife took some binoculars specifically for the trip and we couldn’t even see nesting birds through them! We did see birds flying overhead and around the boat, but these were seagulls, razorbills and guillemots – not the puffins I so desperately wanted to see.
We were told that puffins weren’t as brave as the other types of sea birds and tend to stay away from the boats, but “if you’re lucky you may just see one”. Hmmm……. To say I was not impressed by this statement was an understatement because the Cliffs of Moher tour was sold to us on the basis we would see puffins, and we would see them nesting to. The lady selling the trips was adamant we would see puffins and I (naively as it turned out) believed her. The luck of the Irish wasn’t with me, and I returned back to Doolin disappointed I didn’t see a puffin but excited I saw a wild dolphin – so it was a bit of a double edged sword.
Footage shot during our tour of the Cliffs of Moher showing how many birds we didn't see and how close to the cliffs we didn't get - what a waste of time and money!
The following day the weather deteriorated as the wind picked up and the rain set in. It was a shame because up until this point the weather had been great. Okay, the day we went to Inis Oirr was overcast and dull (but it was dry) and prior to that we had seen temperatures in the high twenties, blazing sunshine and bright blue skies. The change in the weather wasn’t so bad, we had made the most of it up until now and done a lot. Besides, my legs were absolutely trashed from walking around Inis Oirr so I welcomed a bit of a break.
Overnight the wind got stronger and, being stuck on an open site, the van took a bit of a battering. I don’t know how strong the wind was (we don’t travel with a radio and couldn’t get the TV tuned to any stations – so we didn’t have a weather forecast) but it was strong. Some of the tents looked a little worse for wear the following morning, and some of the occupants were busy replacing poles after spending the night in their car. I am so glad my days of “proper” camping are over.
Nagles Campsite is very exposed to the elements and when the wind blows off the Atlantic, it blows and hard too. A bit of wind doesn’t bother me, although the noise does make sleeping more difficult. The wind does affect the better half. Despite being safely tucked up in a motorhome with nothing that can be blown off and damaged she worries a lot – This is a throwback from our ‘proper’ camping days in tents and the folding camper, where strong winds damage things and makes for an unpleasant holiday.
On the last day I started to realize I had messed up and booked too many nights at Nagles Campsite as we had run out of things to do. There were other things, such as going on an organized walking tour of the Cliffs of Moher, but I am no walker (the day walking around Inis Oirr proved that) so this tour was of little interest. There were no other boat trips to do. I couldn’t find any (safe) rocks that were close enough to cast a line (although I am sure there are some spots out there – they just remained elusive to me). In hindsight three nights would have been sufficient, and if I didn’t take advantage of the ‘lazing around wet day’ two nights would have been enough. That said, before embarking on our Irish adventure we decided we weren’t going to spend the entire two weeks on the road and were going to spend more nights on fewer campsites so we could have some much needed downtime to chillax.
The last day and night on Nagles campsite was pretty uneventful, and it was now time to sort everything out and get ready for the 157mile trip to Wavecrest Campsite on the Ring of Kerry.
"Nagles Campsite, Doolin - Our destination"
This morning, after yet another god night’s sleep at Galey Bay campsite it was time to pack everything up, say goodbye to County Roscommon and make our way over to Nagles Campsite in Doolin, County Galway. It was sad to say farewell to Lough Ree, but it was also exciting to carry on with our Irish adventure and head on over to our next campsite.
Over the last few days the weather has been very kind to us (which makes a change) with blazing sunshine, blue skies, wispy clouds and high temperatures. I have used more sun cream over the last three days than I did during the entire four weeks away in the motor home last year (not all in one stint) so even if the weather goes to pot now (I really hope it doesn’t) I can say I saw some sun and have the red face to prove it. Even though I use factor 50 sun cream (and have to apply it with a trowel) and use loads of it I still get a bright red face. Hmmmm….. what’s that all about?
The journey from Galey Bay campsite, Lough Ree to Nagles campsite, Doolin should (according to the AA route finder) take 2 hours 20 minutes. Once the route was plugged in to the sat nav the time decreased to just over 2 hours, which seemed a bit of a result. It wasn’t until the sat nav instructed us to keep on going where the AA route was directing left of the M60 (and subsequently cross country) did it dawn on me why there was such a difference – I obviously had some strange settings on the AA route finder website when I was sorting out the route. Oh well…….
The first part of the journey from County Rosscommon was along the M6. Thinking about it, the M6 in Ireland (running from East to West, or West to East) is much the same as the M6 back home in the UK. The fact these two roads share the same “M6” name and also run from East to West or West to East is where the similarities end. The Irish M6 is a pleasure to drive whereas the M6 in the UK is one of the worst roads in the country.
The Irish M6 is quiet with very little traffic, full of courteous drivers and, what I would call a “slow pace” road – even though the national speed limit is faster than the England’s M6. By contrast the M6 is England is busy and full of a**e h***s tailgating, pushing you along and getting irate. It is a total contrast.
You have to see how quiet the Irish M6 is to believe it, so for your pleasure I got the better half to record some video footage, as below:-
What you see in the video clip is exactly what our entire time on the M6 was like. I really wish I had some video footage of our journey on the M6 last Friday for comparison, but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?
Once off the M6 we joined the N18 and then picked up the N67 “Wild Atlantic Way”. I was expecting the Wild Atlantic Way to run close enough to the coast to be able to see the Atlantic Ocean, and whilst there are parts of this like this a lot of it is further inland, and you can’t see water. The Wild Atlantic Way is a lot wider/bigger than I was expecting however there are sections where it squeezes right up. Even in these narrow sections there is still plenty of room to get two vehicles side by side – and large ones at that.
Since I included a short video clip of the journey down the M6 I thought I would include a (short) video clip of the N67 “Wild Atlantic Way” as well. If I had known how beautiful the Kinvarra section was (as detailed further on in this post) I would have got the better half to video that, but as it is – I wasn’t aware of what it was like and the following is all we managed to get:-
The Kinvarra section of the Wild Atlantic Way is where the road narrows up, becomes nice and twisty and you can see the coast line. This section is not only stunning to look at, but also great fun to drive (albeit you can’t go that fast – and nowhere near the 100kph speed limit). Corkscrew Hill and the Burren were two particular notable sections, and whilst it wasn’t as tight and twisty as the Stelvio Pass (in Italy) I drove a few years back it kind of reminded of it. There is a layby half way up Corkscrew Hill (for photo opportunities) but there was no room when we reached it as a tour bus, a large motorhome and two cars occupied the entire layby. Had the vehicles not parked selfishly (i.e. with a gap that was just too small to get in to between them) and moved up a little we could have got the Accordo in, but as it was we just had to drive on by. Perhaps it is a good thing we couldn’t stop at the layby – It is going to take some serious clutch slipping and engine revving to get going from the position of the layby.
After the slow drive down the N67 we picked up the R478 (which was also a surprisingly wide road) and followed it all the way to Doolin.
Overall, the journey from Galey Bay campsite to Nagles campsite went pretty smoothly. It took a little longer than the 2 hours the sat nave suggested it would, but then we are in a motorhome, I stuck between 95kph – 100kph on the motor way (where the national speed limit is 120 kph) and I probably drove slower along the Wild Atlantic Way than the Sat Nav was expecting.
The more I drive our little Accordo 120 the more I am warming to it, which given we have owned it for coming up to 11 months, is well overdue. I used to find the Accordo a little intimidating (especially manoeuvring it) however it is becoming easier and easier to drive and the more miles we are putting on it the better it sounds, feels and drives too.
"The sign says Gailey Bay, the website says Galey Bay. I never did find out which is correct"
The first night at Galey Bay was, as I was expecting, peaceful. There was some noise, but this was from the massive (and I mean massive) flock of starlings or fieldfares (we couldn’t identify what they were despite my wife having a bird spotters guide book) from flying around, settling in a tree (and chirping) and then repeating this several times. I have never seen such a large flock of birds behaving like this before, and I have to say it was quite a spectacle, and the wing noise from so many birds is indescribable. Once the sun set the birds obviously roosted and the campsite fell silent.
After a long (and much needed) night’s sleep we woke to a cloudy and dull day. It was very warm, but the sun wasn’t out like it had been the day before. Lack of sun doesn’t bother me, as not only do I burn very easily but bright sun makes the photography that much harder. Saying that, it is always nice to get a few snaps of bright blue cloudless skies which is why I hoped the sun would burn through later in the day. I should have got the camera out when we first arrived at the campsite, but there was quite a bit to do in setting up and after the long day I just could be motivated to get out there with the camera. Hind sight is a wonderful thing………….
Since the milk had turned to cheese (refrigeration had been a challenge with the travelling, overnight stop at the Road King and ferry etc.) it was a good excuse to get the Brompton’s out and find a local shop. I have to say the area around Galey Bay campsite is simply stunning. The backroads are a little rough (but plenty good enough for a reasonably comfortable ride) but they are quiet and the landscape isn’t too hilly – which suits me down to the ground. That said, we did come across one short steep hill, which was quite a struggle and got the heart rate up higher than I wanted. Other than this the ride was pleasant and comprised riding on quiet roads through lush green scenery and lots of livestock.
As the day went on the sun became brighter and hotter, and the temperature reached those levels where you sweat (or perspire – if you are like my better half) by just moving around. As a result the roll out awning was pulled out and the rest of the day was spent chilling out and being lazy, playing around with the camera and enjoying the peace, quiet and serenity (as well as the wildlife) around the site.
Lough Ree seems to be a popular swimming hole for the locals, and a couple of ladies on the next pitch have taken to wild swimming too. I have to admit that given the temperatures I was pretty tempted, however I left my swimmers at home. I can’t re-iterate what one of the ladies said about costumes, as it has put a nasty image in my mind and one that is likely to scar me for many weeks, if not months to come.
A couple of photos of Lough Ree - Anyone up for a dip?"
During our stay at Galey Bay the site owner devised a cycle route he claimed was on quiet and flat roads, as well as through nice scenery. The route was scribbled on a scrap of paper and given to us, and since the owner was kind enough to think of us and devise a bespoke cycle route, the least we could do was follow it. We did have a route suggested by the ladies on the pitch next to us, but ignoring the one so kindly provided by the site owner would have not only been rude but also disrespectful.
We followed the cycle route, which was indeed on very quiet (and small) roads through some absolutely stunning scenery. The more time I spend in Ireland the more I am starting to warm to the place. The small roads we took aren’t the smoothest or in the best condition (most of them had grass growing down the middle) and weren’t ideal for the Brompton foldup bikes, but they were tarmac and the Brompton coped with it.
There was a bit of a problem on the ride in that we got lost, which when you don’t have any map other than a sketch on a bit of scrap paper wasn’t much fun. We followed the directions to the letter and when we reached a t junction that was not on our map it dawned on us something had gone array. I don’t know whether I was an idiot and took a wrong turn (the most likely scenario) or whether the site owner forgot a step (the least likely scenario) but something went wrong. With a bit of a wing and a prayer we carried on kind of going the way we came until we found a lone house with the owner cutting the hedge outside. The time had come for me to swallow my pride and ask directions.
The property owner was very helpful and very friendly and after a long conversation about where we were from, what we were doing, our itinerary during our stay and a “welcome to Ireland” we were on our way with clear directions how to get back to the site. The Irish seem far more friendly and helpful than people back home and I very much doubt we would have received the same treatment in the UK. Had it not been for this property owner things could have turned out much differently, and our reasonable cycle ride could easily have ended up in a very long (not to mention hot) cycle ride indeed, and with no padded shorts it would have also been painful too.
Once safely back on site it was time, once again, to extend the roll out awning and do stuff that didn’t require too much energy or effort so not to get sweaty and sticky. The first part of our Irish adventure hasn’t been very eventful, but then we did plan it this way and thought it best to break ourselves in gently and use the first campsite as an opportunity to kick back, totally forget about work and the humdrum of daily life and to prepare us for the next part of our trip across Ireland to the next campsite.
Our first campsite in Ireland was a success and we definitely picked a winner with Galey bay (as per their website) or Gailey Bay (as per the entrance sign) campsite. The site may be small but it has everything you need. The site owner is very friendly and helpful, the facilities are clean, and the local area is stunning.
My better half said that if we had not booked (and paid for) the next campsite she would have liked to spend a few more days at this campsite, which just goes to show how good this campsite is – not that she’s fussy and hard to please of course. As much as I likeGaley Bay campsite and could easily spend more time here I am glad the next campsite is booked and we had to move. This trip to Ireland isn’t cheap and after spending so much money getting here I think it would be a shame to spend the entire time at one campsite and in one area. Had the next campsite not been booked getting the other half off Galey Bay campsite would have been pretty difficult.
Below is a quick slide show of Galey Bay (or should that be Gailey Bay?) campsite and the surrounding area you may find interesting.
After the ridiculously long trip to the Road King truck stop in Holyhead (check out my review here) it was time for part two of our journey to Dublin in the Emerald Isle, i.e. Republic of Ireland.
After a good night’s sleep (which was most definitely needed) we woke up to a breezy but sunny morning with a bright blue cloudless sky. The ferry, the Jonathan Swift, wasn’t due to sail until 11.50am so we had loads of time to get to the ferry port (some six miles away) by the last check in time of 11.20am. By 10am I was getting itchy feet and with the motor home packed up and good to go I made the executive decision to get over to the ferry port and wait there rather than at the Road King.
As you’d expect the journey to the ferry port was quick and painless although on arrival we ended up in a bit of chaos. It seemed many other people were like me and ‘couldn’t wait’ to get on the ferry and the queues were large and also haphazard. I hate waiting in queues (even though it is something the Brits are supposed to enjoy and do well) so I will gloss over this experience and move straight on to embarking.
The motor home/camper van queue consisted of three vehicles, and we were the last of the vehicles to embark. I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to getting the motor home on the ferry and was quite nervous but it was painless. I’d like to say it was quick and painless, but I can’t as I would be lying – it wasn’t quick (because of the long queues) but it was painless. Getting a vehicle on (and off) a ferry isn’t as complicated and daunting as it first appears.
Being the last on the ferry meant finding a seat was a bit of a mission and when we did it wasn’t one with a view. There were plenty of the “club class” seats available and if I wasn’t so tight I could have stumped up 36 Euros for two of them, but for an hour and fifty minutes (not to mention the fact I am tight and would prefer to use the money for something more worthwhile) the decision was made to sit wherever there was space. During the crossing my wife did make a valid point (that doesn’t happen too often!) in that most of the people with a sea view seat were actually asleep and not enjoying the view. These passengers could sit anywhere and sleep yet they chose a sea view seat (taking the opportunity from another passenger) and didn’t make the most of it. Being third from last on the ferry meant we didn’t have a choice of seats and had to take what we could find, yet we didn’t sleep and would have like the opportunity to enjoy the views. Sour grapes? Definitely – but it was a damn good point very well made.
The Swift is one of the faster ferries with a short crossing, which is great but the ferry itself is not all that. Don’t get me wrong, it is adequate and served a purpose but that’s it. When I booked the Swift ferry I looked at the pictures on the website, and you know that saying “The camera never lies?” Well it does in the case of the Swift. In the photos the Swift looks large, spacious, and luxurious. In real life it is nothing like this. It is small, it felt cramped and claustrophobic and it is far from luxurious. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Swift, but it served its purpose and that’s all that mattered.
Unlike embarking, disembarking was pretty quick. Once off the ferry getting to the M50 tunnel (I didn’t fancy heading in to Dublin and navigating around the city) was very easier, and much more so than I was expecting. Once through the tunnel we joined the M50 and followed it around to the junction with the N4/M6 and left towards Galway.
Driving across Ireland was nice and a totally different experience to driving in the UK. There was traffic on the motor way, but nowhere near as much as you get on UK A roads, let alone motor ways! The Irish drivers are also far more courteous than British drivers and rather than being “pushed along and tailgated” (like what happens in the UK) the Irish sit back and let you have some road space. Another thing I noticed is that Irish drivers seem more aware of what other drivers are doing and help them out. For example, when coming up to slower vehicles (especially HGVs) and getting ready to overtake Irish drivers hang back and let you pull out and get past. They don’t do what the British drivers do and don’t let you out or creep alongside making it difficult or anything like that. Driving in Ireland is a pleasure and the drivers respect each other, give plenty of room, are patient and courteous and also drive slower. Even though the motorway speed is 120kph very few drivers were doing this speed, and the same can be said when the speed limits were 100kph, 80kph or 50kph. Most drivers drive less than the speed limit.
I have to say that I did get an impatient (and unnecessary) toot of a horn from one driver on my way across Ireland – I was overtaking an HGV and gave him plenty of room as I pulled back in (like I always od) and the driver behind me obviously thought I was taking too long and gave me a long and aggressive toot for it. When the driver came passed me (staring at me giving me the middle finger as he did so) I noticed he was late twenties and driving a modified (spoilers, larger wheels, body kit – typical UK chav stuff) Golf that was registered in the UK. Yep – I got the horn (and finger) from a fellow Brit on Irish roads. This bloke’s behaviour was totally uncalled for and I wonder if I had been in an Irish registered car if he would have done the same? Unfortunately, I think the answer to this is yes. There are times (and they seem to be increasing as I get older) when I am ashamed to say I am British and ashamed to have the “GB” on my number plate and this was one of them.
Other than my (I am ashamed to say) fellow countryman I didn’t get any other abuse driving across Ireland. I, actually received the opposite and found the Irish drivers let me out of junctions, gave me loads of room to complete my manoeuvres, and were the ones that pulled to the side and flashed me through on the single track roads. Driving the motor home across Ireland to Galey Bay Campsite (the first of our Irish adventure) was a pleasure and much quicker, slicker and enjoyable than driving across the UK to Holyhead the day before.
The first stint in Southern Ireland was just under a hundred miles (99 miles) and took us just under 2 hours. Considering we had to navigate through Dublin port, queue up to get on the toll, get through the tunnel and navigate around a large section of the M50 I didn’t think this was too bad. We also had to stop at a service station with a payzone to pay the M50 toll, which caused a bit of a detour.
Our first site in the Republic of Ireland is Galey Bay Campsite in County Rosscommon and this was our base for the first three nights. Please do take a look at my “Review of Galey Bay campsite” for an honest, unbiased and “warts and all” account of this campsite.
Check out how quiet the roads are in Ireland - I had to get the wife to capture a quick clip to believe it myself!
The difference in the volume of traffic between the UK and Ireland is huge. On the M6 in Ireland there was a bloke on the other carriage way who was walking across the road to the fast lane to pick something up off the road. Now you couldn't do that on the M6 in the UK without playing chicken with the traffic could you!?!
After weeks of planning, thinking and anticipation the day of our Irish adventure had finally arrived. It would have all been good, had we not had to go to work for the morning in the first place – now there’s a reality check if ever there was one.
I have to say that it was pointless me being at work for the morning because I was in “holiday mode”, i.e. basically there to drink tea and make up the numbers and I achieved nothing. I had finished what I needed to get done by Thursday lunchtime and with a two week break ahead of me there was little point in starting a new project - I did have ‘odds and sods’ to do but these were things that could wait, so I couldn’t see the point in busting my b***s to get them done. I had previously requested the entire day off but my boss wanted me there (I really have no idea why) and we ended up with a compromise of me working a half day. Basically, I spent the morning clock watching, re-printing the ferry documents, routes, campsite terms and conditions etc. (just to make sure I definitely had a copy) and drinking copious amounts of tea – which isn’t a good thing before a long journey.
With the clock finally ticking over to midday I was out of the office like a bullet and running home to finish packing the motor home ready for the two week tour of Ireland. Even though we had spent the entire week sorting tings out, loading up cupboards, packing clothes etc. there was still quite a bit to do, which I can never quite get my head around. Fortunately, I live a fifteen mile drive from the office so I was home in no time, got everything finished off and pulled off the drive at just gone 2.00pm ready to get to our overnight stop at Holyhead.
The first stint of the journey was a 327 mile stint across the country from (almost) the most easterly point of the UK (East Anglia) to Holy Island, which seems to be one of the most westerly points from what I can see on the map. The journey seemed quite daunting, although it was going to be on all big roads. We had been to the Welsh border before (when we stayed at Church House Melverly) but we had never ventured in to the deepest, darkest part of the Welsh countryside before.
The AA Route finder website had the journey at 5hrs 41 mins, which didn’t seem too bad to me. Whilst we had never done such a long stint in one go in the motorhome before I had driven some pretty long hours in a banger rally to Naples I did a few years back, so driving for several hours wasn’t too daunting.
The trip over to our overnight stop, Road King Truck Stop was a bit of a mixed bag. The journey from home to the western side of Birmingham was full of hold ups and traffic jams because of road works (on the A14 before we were even out of East Anglia), road works on the M6 and two separate accidents (both of which were pretty serious) on the M6. With Birmingham a little distance behind us the sat nav presented tow options, one of which was to carry on the M6 and head further North (and of course West) and the other to take a more direct route on smaller roads. According to the sat nav the M6 option would have taken an hour and ten minutes, but given our travelling speed was 55mph – 60mph we didn’t think the time saving would be that great and decided on the slower scenic route.
The slower route definitely was beautiful and a good choice. Whether it was the best choice, I can’t say but given it was mostly clear and we managed the 55mph – 60mph almost all the way. We did stumble across a broken down vehicle which required a police officer to direct the traffic but this only added an extra ten minutes, which was fortunate.
Once in Wales the journey became a little easier, but then given it was a late evening on a Friday it really should have been - the traffic was heavy but moving so we did make good progress. I never realised how pretty Wales was before, but then given I had only ever stayed on the Welsh border, and never ventured any further why would I? The journey to the Road King took us through Colwyn Bay (which is stunning and somewhere I am going to return to for a few days in the future) on to Anglesey and finally on to Holy Island to the Road King.
We eventually pulled up to the Road King at 9.23pm, some 7 hrs 50 minutes after leaving home! We only stopped twice on-route to the Road King with the first being two miles down the road to fill up with fuel, and the other for a quick (10 minute or so) pee stop and leg stretch. I appreciate the journey from home to Holyhead is a long way but to cover 327 miles in 7.5 hours behind the wheel isn’t that great by any stretch of the imagination.
After such a long day I was happy to reach the Road King and more than ready to get some well needed shut eye in preparation of the next part of our journey – getting the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin.
If you’re interested and/or want to know if it is a suitable stop over point for your trip to Ireland please feel free to take a look at my “Review of the Road King truck stop, Holyhead”
Dunmore East wasn’t on the original route for our Irish adventure but the more we thought about Garrettstown campsite, and the more we discussed it the more and more we thought it wasn’t the most suitable campsite for us, and this resulted with us scrapping the idea of staying at site and finding an alternative and this ended up being Dunmore East Holiday Park. We only needed two nights at Dunmore East Holiday Park leaving us one day which to explore the village of Dunmore East.
With our visit to Dunmore East unplanned and of the cuff we didn’t have the chance to do any research on Dunmore East or what there is to do in Dunmore East so it was a case of winging it. Since we needed some supplies we had the perfect excuse to walk down to the village and see what’s what. In the past I have made the mistake of going to a village, spending a few hours walking around it looking for a shop before returning to the site, unsuccessful. Since that day I have always asked campsite owners/staff where the nearest shop is, so this on the list before heading off.
Dunmore East Holiday Park is located on a hill overlooking village and this was our start point. There is a private pathway from the campsite headed towards the village which meant we could avoid the golf course and make the journey to the village a little shorter. The view from the meadow looking towards the village is stunning, and right away I knew there were going to be loads of photo opportunities. The route to the village was downhill, very easy going and also pleasing to the eye.
Finding the shop in Dunmore East (a Centra and a Spar) didn’t take too long, and rather than getting the essentials and heading back to the campsite we thought we would walk down to the harbour and then work our way back to the shops.
I like water, I like boats and I like fishing so I found a tour of the harbour interesting. The fishing industry has all but died where I live back home so it was great to see a harbour full of fishing boats all rigged up and good to go. The harbour was a busy area, not from tourists milling about but from fishermen and dockworkers going about their daily lives. I found observing a working harbour fascinating and I could have stayed there for hours, and had it not been for my better half whinging about moving on I would have. I wanted to get closer to the action, not least to take a few photos, but I couldn’t identify whether the harbour/docks were open to the public or not. I didn’t see any “no entry” signs and the like, and I did see a few people (who were clearly not fishermen or dock workers) walking around but I couldn’t work out what the etiquette was.
I don’t like getting in the way, especially when people are trying to get on with their lives and earn a living so I thought it best to stay near the harbour wall out of the way, and watch from a distance. I was gutted I only had my wide angle lens with me and that I left the tele-lens back in the motorhome, but that’s the way it goes at times. I did manage to fire off a few shots, but none I am overly happy with. Oh well…….
During our Irish adventure we had not experienced any “real life” and had only come across the tourist trade and workers in the tourist trade. Seeing a bit of the real Ireland was good and definitely added something extra to our trip.
After the harbour we started the walk back to the shops, and but first in need of refreshment we made a decision to stop of at Bay Café for a drink and a sausage roll. This café, together with the Lemon Tree café was mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide book of Ireland and since we reached the Bay café first we stopped there. The other reason for stopping at the Bay Café was because (according to our guide book) it was cheaper, and I refuse to spend loads of money on a pot of tea and a straight coffee.
The Bay Café is very nice, and has an interesting selection of food and drink on the menu. The day was dull, grey, miserable and also in low season so getting a table outside was easy. There are great views over the harbor from Bay Café although I was more interested in playing with the (very tame) sparrows and trying to encourage one to take a bit of sausage roll off the edge of the table. I have to give credit to one particularly brave sparrow who would hover a few centimetres from the edge of the table but was not quite brave enough to claim the prize. I did brush the piece of sausage roll on the floor at the end (I am not that cruel) and when the wife went to use the rest room the brave sparrow decided to come and sit on the table opposite me – one of the highlights of the day
Full of caffeine and sausage roll (minus a bit for the sparrow) and shopping all done and dusted we decided to stop off at all the coves and bays along the way back to the campsite. The coast where we live is sandy and flat, and the Irish coast is totally the opposite. The numerous bays and coves, and the rugged coastline is still a novelty to me (even though we have seen plenty of it during our trip) and it is something I will never tire of. The bays and coves we visited comprised Stony Cove, Bishop Cove and Ladies Cove, and whilst they were all pretty much the same each one had its own little quirk and all of them were beautiful. I had carried a fishing rod and some tackle on our Irish adventure and I was desperate to cast a line when I left home. Despite looking for fishing spots in all of the coastal sites we have visited I only found a couple and both of these were at Wavecrest campsite and because of the way the tide fell, our itinerary etc. I only managed a few hours fishing. The clear waters of all of these coves looked “fishy” and I could easily see myself spending a few hours at any one of them with a line in the water. Whether any of the coves are suitable for fishing, I have no idea but I am sure someone around the village would know. Because of the time restraints fishing at Dunmore East was out of the question, which was a real shame. If only I’d known about Dunmore East before we left for our Irish trip……
As well as checking out the coves we also took a trip through the (small) park to admire the flowers and the tropical looking plants/foliage. For such a small village Dunmore East has a large (and beautiful) park. Walking out of the village and towards the campsite it was time to start hiking the steep incline all the way to the campsite.
Dunmore East is a small village, but there is plenty to do and from our whistle stop tour we found you can:-
For such a small village there is plenty to do, and it is definitely an area I could easily spend two or three days. It’s a real shame we found this gem of a place on the last leg of our Irish adventure and when we only had one complete day to play with.
A taster of Dunmore East......
About the author
A total motor home newbie with a six year camping background in a folding camper. A keen blogger sharing my experience of researching, choosing, buying and owning a motor home. and every thing that goes with it.
The Motor home