WALKING #STAYCATION VACATION IRELAND 2020
This year’s holiday dates were booked last year, long before the spectre of Covid 19 shadowed our daily lives. Gone were the fantasies of travelling with families from across the water to sun-kissed foreign beaches where we would sip cocktails in plush and exotic bars. We were dealing with the new normal and as the holiday started on 30th June, a lot of uncertainty still abounded about going anywhere outside our safe space. So we chose a campervanning and walking holiday. A #safehouse on wheels, socially distanced from others, dog-friendly and mobile (Luna the Lab has been such a daily comfort we couldn’t possibly leave her at home!) The weather forecast was rubbish so there was NO WAY we were using the tent (Yes! I am a creature who craves comfort.)
Touring Ireland in The Van
The first hurdle was the camper. (We had concerns about the financial stability of a couple of the companies and if we had had to cancel, they were only offering vouchers, not a refund), We discovered Indie Campers and they were well-reviewed, based in Portugal and had other outlets in Europe. We booked a four-person van and we started to get excited and headed off to lovely Adare (Ireland’s prettiest village) for alfresco lunch and wander.
Walking tour of Kerry
Kerry was the dream for the first couple of days, we drove down past the stunning lakes of Killarney and stayed in Glenross campsite which is in the little village of Glenbeigh, next to the sea. Cathy, the owner was there to greet us and the place was spotless and regularly made #covidsafe. That night, the weather arrived in full fettle – the BBQ’ing was done under an umbrella (sure that wouldn’t be the first time!). We walked loads and the next morning was bright so we took to the sea (wetsuits on of course, it is Ireland!). The waves were decent and suddenly I felt human, worries sloughed away by the rugged weather and the salty sand (the chips helped too). Ate our first meal out in 4 months! It was ‘only’ pizza but my goodness, it was so so good. Lovely little place called Emilies (also a bakery), we had a wonderful evening (socially-distanced and time-limited) walked on the beach after dinner and retired to the van for a few gins…
No early mornings – it’s a holiday! Explored loads the next day. Discovered Kerry Cliffs on a wild, sunny day full of colour and scudding clouds, travelled down to Portmagee saw Valentia Island and the Skelligs and headed on to Dingle via Inch beach. The weather defaulted to driving rain but we found an AMAZING bakery BACUS craft bakery right next to a fantastic cheese shop. Eat-in continental meal: sorted. The sourdough from Bacus dipped into the pesto from The Little Cheese Shop actually blew my mind. Best Pesto Ever. (the olives were pretty damn good too, as was the cheese..). Coffee and Desert before dinner (sure why not) Murphy’s Ice Cream deserves to be savoured with a fine coffee from My Boy Blue.
Walking and Touring in Connemara and Mayo
Weather warnings aplenty, we headed towards Cong via the stunning Cliffs of Moher and the incredible martian landscape that is The Burren National Park. I saw the Cliffs of Moher on a winter’s day years ago and their majesty and menace stayed with me (just as well, they have disappeared. Gone away. There were no cliffs to be seen, just mist, rain and the sound of seabirds far below). Lovely visitor’s centre and delicious seafood chowder though. We repaired to our campsite in the village of Cong actually, right beside Ashford Castle. Excellent site with a hostel and glamping as well as the usual pitches for tents, vans etc. The owner Gerry was super helpful when we had a puncture from a nine inch nail (well, almost nine inches, it sounds more rock ‘n roll than 5 inch nail). Good friends came to join us for a few days and we walked, explored the Abbey, the Castle and took a boat tour on Lough Corrib (Gerry’s cousin runs Corrib Cruises, it wouldn’t be a true Irish experience if they didn’t at least know each other). Luna came with us and we had a wonderful time being regaled with stories about the massive freshwater Lough the landed gentry and the locals, great craic.
Galway and then Home
Our friends showed us two incredible beaches. Coral Beach – a beach made of coral – I had no idea such a thing existed in Ireland. Absolutely beautiful turquoise water and the sound of the sea over the coral sand, says shhhhhh. The perfect place to make a break for it.
Travelling home, the sun came out to see us off! Stopped in Athlone to explore the stunning river Shannon and decided we definitely need to come back and see more!
An Irish holiday with a difference! There was not one tour bus to hold us up and, if you wanted a pint of Guinness, you had to have a meal with it! It felt like we were discovering for the first time.
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