June 21 to July 5, 2016
Tuesday june 21 : Departure today for Ireland. We take off at 1:05 pm for a 1:20 flight to Dublin. A blue sky welcomes us. We will then retrieve the car from Avis, an Opel Corsa. We're losing ourselves when going out of the car park. Oh yeah, think about driving left! We head to our hotel, the Best Wersten Sheldon Park. It is class ! Large room with 2 queen beds and 1 single bed, without air conditioning ... so it's hot. To finish the afternoon, we decide to visit Dublin. We take the tram near the hotel. We see Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trinity College, Temple Bar Street.
The buildings are pretty beautiful. Dublin is much built of red and orange bricks. Some streets are a bit dirty. We walk 6 kms before stopping to eat at the Thunder Road Cafe on the busiest street, Temple Bar Street.
Wednesday june 22 : this morning, the sky is overcast and it's windy. With a few rain shower, we go to Newgrange. We arrive at 9:20 am. The person at the entrance tells us that we have to go to the Visitors Center in Slane and pay for a guided bus tour. We cannot visit now. Shame, we are just in front !
We go to Slane to hear that the visit is at 6€ and the next departure at 11:15 am (duration of the visit : 1h15). We find it a little fair and we don't care about the visit... We leave and stop for shopping in a Aldi store in Drogheda. Then we're heading towards Tollymore Forest in Northern Ireland. After getting lost (!), we arrive at 12:40 pm. The entrance for the car is 5£ but there is no one at the ranger station. It's closes and opens at 1 pm. The self pay box accepts only coins and of course all we have is bills ! We finally start the River trail hike which is 5,2 kms. under the trees, tiver, stone bridges … a good start !
Then we walk on the Arboretum Path (700 m). We should think we are in Oregon : river with rhododendrons, mossy trees … We leave at the end of the afternoon and drive to Clonmur B&B for the night. Well, we literally get lost : we go to Ballyroney and Ballynanni Road and it's not here at all. We stop on a small road : we look our map, GPS and the confirmation mail for the B&B. It talks about Hilltown. We stop to ask people in their garden : they help us by looking at Google maps and show us the good way. We go back to Rathfriland and Hilltown to the south and not north as we did. We finally arrive à 7 pm. The place is quite remote. The welcoming is a bit cold, but the room is nice and very clean, with bathroom and shower. It's modern and new. We eat on a table outside, with a nice view over the mountains and cows.
Thursday june 23 : this room is really great : it's quiet, sheets and towels smells very good, the shower gel too ! The duvet is very cozy ! We wake up at 6:30 am for a breakfast at 7. The hostess asks us what we want. It's irish style : sausage, bacon, black ans white pudding, eggs, beans with tomato sauce, toasts, marmalade, coffee, hot chocolate and orange juice. The lady is more talkative this morning. She explains that on the Booking website, the adress of the B&B is not good and while she asks to change, they never did it ! In a book in our bedroom, we saw that we are 5 minutes away from a «magic road». We ask where it is. We leave at 8:20 am to see this magic road. At the Spolga Dam, we have to take down the small road that goes to the dam and stop before the gate but not to close. We stop the engine and the car starts to go up the slope ! Incredible !
Optical ilusion or magic ?!! After playing for a while, we hit the road to Larne. We bypass Belfast with no problem. Then we stop often along the road to take pictures of the coast : Larne, Ballygally, Glenarm where there is a marina and a church, Glenariff. From here we reach Glenariff Forest Park. At 1 pm, we start the Waterfalls Walk, 3 kms long with 3 nice waterfalls. Some parts of the trail are closed. The whole walk is on pontoon, there is no way to get closer to the falls. Damn. Then we take the View Point Walk of 0,6 kms, but there is nothing to see. We return to the coast where the sky is overcast with a few rain drops. We drive on the Torr Head Road, which really climbs. We stop at Torr Head. Access is via very small roads. We dress with our windbreakers to go up the hill where there is an old red bricks building. We somtimes can see the sun which gives a very nice light that lighten the green grass.
We leave in the rain. We arrive at Dark Hedge, the alley of enormous trees which served as decoration to the series "Games of Throne". It rains a lot and we are rinsed. We go back a little in the car while waiting for it to pass. When the rain finally stops, we take pictures.
It's nice, the trees are impressive. Two girls are here, dresses like in "Games of Throne". It starts to rain again. We arrive at the Lodge Hotel in Coleraine at 7pm. The room is large, it is for 5 people with 2 beds in mezzanine. We will eat at the hotel restaurant.
Friday june 24 : departure at 8:20 for the Giants Causeway. The entrance, £ 9 per person, includes parking, access to the Visitors Center, shop, wc and movie. In fact, by parking a little further, you do not pay the entrance to access the strolls of the roadway. We take the red trail, noted difficult but it is not. It climbs a little at the beginning and then you overlook the coast and you see the alley of columns of basalt which makes the Giants Causeway. We go to the area called Amphiteatre, it's the end of the trail. Then we return by the Blue Trail (moderate) which runs along the sea.
It's full of people. We take a lot of pictures. The sky finally cleared and the weather is nice and warm (28 °). Then we go to Carrick a rede bridge. The entrance fee is £ 5.90 per person. There are a lot of people here too. We walk 1km to go to the rope bridge.
The view of the coast and its turquoise waters is magnificent. You have to wait in line to cross the bridge which must make 20m. It is high ! We take a walk on the island and we leave. A bit pricey for what it is! We go back to Dark Hedges. But it is not top in the sun, not easy for the pictures. At 5 pm, we take the road to Dunluce Castle. The visit to the castle costs £ 5, but access to the castle is free. There is not much to see. In addition, a tower is under construction. We go back to Coleraine to do some shopping and then eat at 7 pm in the restaurant of the hotel. A lot of people, definitely! So the service is a bit long. At 8:35 pm, we take the car to go to watch the sunset on the Giant's Causeway. There is a band of clouds so the sunset is average. The rocks light up very lightly.
It's less crowdy than this morning, around 20 people only. It's 14 °, we are well ! We leave around 10:30 pm.
Saturday june 25 : we arrive at Glenveagh National Park at 12 pm. At the Visitors Center, we buy tickets for the shuttle that takes us to the castle (3€/pers). We start the visit with the Walled Garden that also goes in front of the castle. The garden is nice and colored. Then we follow the View Point Trail (2 kms). It climbs a lot at the beginning but we have a nice view of the castle and the lake.
The sky slightly clears. We take the shuttle back and we take the Nature Trail (2 kms) close to the entrance. It's not very intersting if not a view of the lake and the Mount Errigal. We take our car at 3:45 pm to Donegal and the Atlantic Guesthouse. The room is very kitsch ans very small with 2 small beds side by side, sink and TV ; shower and toilet are on the landing. After leaving our bagages, we head to Glengesh Pass using the Wild Atlantic Way. We arrive at the pass at 6:45 pm, we take a few pictures and we drive to Slieve League. The road is pretty cool, small with a lot of turns. At 7:30 pm, we arrive at the entrance to Slieve League. We open a gate to enter and we walk along the coast.
It's nice, very green but very covered in the sky. There are many sheeps. We return to our car and stop to take pictures of the green hils. The landscape looks like the one in the movie "The Lord of the Rings".
We reach the parking to picnic et we return to our hotel at 9 pm.
Sunday june 26 : it's raining once again ! We leave for Connemara at 9:15. On the way, we wanted to see Mount Benbulben but it is too covered, we see nothing. The next stop is for Glencar Falls. The waterfall is 300 m from the parking lot, easy access on a paved driveway. It is still raining. It is pretty pretty but not easy for the pictures : you need a high tripod because of the barriers. We then pass through Sligo, Charlestown, Westport. It looks really nice as a city, full of color, it moves for a rainy Sunday but hey ... it's football game day Ireland / France at 2 pm (this is the European football championship) ! We take a picnic break and then continue in the rain. We stop at the cascade of Aasleagh. It's muddy enough to get there. It's not great. We finally arrive in Connemara and the roads turn all the time.
There are sheeps on the roads. We find our hotel in the city of Clifden : The Inn to the West. It's nice. The room too. There is a relaxation room, a kitchen and a place to eat. It's half-way between a hotel and a youth hostel. Around 4:30 pm, we enjoy a better weather to visit Clifden. It's a succession of bars and restaurants. Houses are of various colors.
We return to the hotel to take showers before going back to eat in the city. We go to the Mannion's : mussels and fries for David, pastas, chicken, vegetables and pesto for me and for dessert a hot toffee pudding and an orange & almond cake, while 2 men are playing irish music? Everything is very good.
Monday june 27 : the breakfast buffet is top, plentiful. We go to the Visitors Center of Connemara National Park. We will start by following the Connemara Loop by car. It drizzles (17 °). We make several stops for photos: Kylemore Lough, Highway 344, Inagh Lough, Highway 336, Maunvee Lough, Killary Harbor, Gowlaun Beach, Rinvyle Beach. It is certainly very beautiful under a less loaded sky! At 2 pm, we take the road 344 which we liked well while there is a little more luminosity. Then we take the road 341 to the south. We stop in the town of Roundstone, we'll see the port. We follow the Wild Atlantic Way. The sun finally arrives ... Then we stop at Dogs Bay, it's a large white sand beach on the back of which there is another beach.
On the way, we take pictures before Ballyconneely, then in Mannin Bay. Finally, we do some shopping and we cook to eat. At 8:30 pm, we take the car to tour the Sky Road while the weather is nice. It's also the Wild Atlantic Way. It is 18 kms long. It is not exceptional but there are some nice views with the evening light.
Tuesday june 28 : big showers this morning, so we take our time to prepare. We leave at 9:50 for Kylemore. The entrance is 13 € per person. We start by visiting the castle: 5 rooms are accessible and we watch a video in French that tells the history of the castle. Then we go to the abbey and the mausoleum. On the return, there is finally a thinning. We take the opportunity to go out and take pictures of the castle that is reflected in the lake. It's nice.
When we return to the castle park, it begins to rain again! Should not miss the "sun niche"! We go for a walk in the Victorian Walled Garden. The garden is very large and nicely laid out. We go back to the car at 1:15 pm, we nibble before we leave. We are going to try the Diamond Hill Trail while the weather is not too bad! Hardly, we start the walk that it starts to rain. Fortunately, it only lasts 5 minutes. The total hike is 7.7 kms with a vertical drop of 400m. But it climbs especially at the end for 3.9 kms with a slope of 10%. At the top of Diamond Hill, the wind is cold but the view is magnificent.
It's worth the pain. In the distance we can see Kylemore Castle and Abbey with the lake. It took us 240. The descent is hard for the knees. We offer ourselves an ice cream once at the bottom !
Wednesday june 29 : once again it's overcat and rainy. We drive on the small lake road in the south of Clifden between Ballynaboy and Cashel. There are many lakes but they are hard to see, we're not high enough. It's raining and 13°. We take pictures at Derryclare Lough.
We leave Connemara where we saw a lot of french and sheeps on the road. We arrive in Ballyvaughan and we look for our hotel. In fact its name has changed : it's now the Wild Atlantic Lodge. The room is nice but the view on the iron roof is less. We go to visit the Burren. We drive along the coast passing by Black Head. It's an area of limestone with narrow cracks. It is very impressive. There are sometimes blocks in the form of large balls.
We spend 2 hours walking on those rocks on both sides of the road, the most interesting being the one on the ocean side. We leave at 4:10 pm to go to the Cliffs of Moher. Parking entrance is 6€ per person. We start with the south side to avoid backlight. Cliffs are impressive : 214 meters high. It's superb.
It's windy but the sun is here. Then we walk at the foor of the O'Brien tower on the north side. We leave at 7:10 pm. Before returning to Ballyvaughan, we go to see Poulnabrone dolmen. Not bad.
A few pictures and we leave. We arrive at our hotel at 8:15 pm. We eat at the restaurant of the hotel : veggie luelques photos et on repart. On arrive à l’hôtel à 20h15. On mange au restaurant de l'hotel : vegetarian lasagne, apple and berry crumble, toffee. Very good.
Thursday june 30 : very light buffet, no croissants. This hotel one notch below the others. Departure at 9:45 am. We stop at the Caherconnel Stone Fort: it's 7 € per person. We do not want to pay for a stone circle, it's too expensive, we'll see other. The least bit is paying in this country !! We go again and we go round in circles to try to find a Visitors Center and Eagle Rock but not way ... We always find ourselves on pedestrian trails. We leave and head towards Tralee in the rain and fog. We arrive at Tralee at 1:30 pm. We take the key to the room but it is not ready. So we're going to the Dingle peninsula. We start with the Blennerville mill. It is all white. It is possible to visit it by paying. We are satisfied with the outside view. Then we take Route 86 towards the southwest of the peninsula. Small picnic at 2:30 pm with a view of the sea. And we leave again under the fog and the rain. We stop at Minard Castle near the seaside, lost in the middle of nowhere.
Then it's the city of Dingle. The more we approach of Dingle, the more the clouds are low, the more it rains ! We can't see the mountains anymore. We arrive at a parking at Slea Head. The sky clears a little and we go down on the beach. As the sky remains clearer, we go by foot to Dunmore Head at 5 pm. A box at the entrance of the trail asks for a donation of 1€ per person for maintaining the site. We pay and start the walk 2,3 kms to the head.
It's nice. We see gannets. We go back to the car at 6 pm and it starts to rain again. We returned to the hotel without going to Connor Pass. Seeing how the sky is hyper-clogged, we will not see anything. Pity.
Friday july 1 : departure at 8:45 am under a covered sky towards Killarney National Park. We arrive 1 hour later at the parking of Muckross House. We walk in the park, we go to see Muckross Abbey,
the garden, the lake. It rains, it stops, it rains again ... not fun in the end ! At 12 pm we go to Torc waterfalls. It sometimes rains. The waterfall is nice, large. We take a lot of pictures.
We climb a little on the side of the waterfall but there is no view from above, only on the lake. In the early afternoon, the rain stops. We take the opportunity to walk up to Old Weir Bridge (4kms round trip). The stone bridge is beautiful.
We go to Meeting of the Waters where we have a view of the bridge. Return to the car and head towards Glenbeigh. We arrive at the hostel The Sleepy Camel at 5 pm. There, you go down in the range : small room, 2 separate beds, a washbasin, an armchair. Bathroom and toilet on the landing. Kitchen and dining room dated, it smells musty.
Saturday july 2 : there's a bike race today, it's gonna be busy on the road. On the program the ring of Kerry. First stop at Rossbeigh Beach to see the boat carcass but there is not much left, just the vertical sides. It's about 1km from the end of the parking lot. We then stop at Kells Bay, but it's average. Then we arrive at Cahergall Stone Fort : a circle of stones stacked, very large and high.
It is in very good condition. We go to a second fort but it starts to rain very hard. We take refuge in the car. Between two showers we see the Leacanabuaile Stone Fort. It is more fitted inside, it makes several rooms. It is nice. Continuing, we arrive at the Ballycarbery Castle, a beautiful castle ruin covered with greenery. It's very beautiful.
Then, we cross the city of Caherciveen. We stop here to visit Daniel O'Connell Church. At the end of the peninsula, continuing on the Skellig Ring, are located the Kerry Cliffs. «The most spectacular cliffs», they say ... 4€ per person for the entrance and the parking. Those cliffs are in fact really beautiful.
From here, we can see, in the distance, the Skellig Island, a place where some scenes of Star Wars were shoot. At 3 pm, we take the road again. Stop at Coomanaspic view point and then at St Finian's Bay, beach of surfers. We take the opportunity to nibble. Other stop at Coumanchiste view point. We made a quick passage to Cove Beach. It's full of people and caravans almost on the beach. On the south of the peninsula, we go to see the Staigue Stone Fort. We put 1 € per person in the box. It is not bad either. Good condition. Then we take the road R568 to Gap of Dunloe. We make pictures of the hill and its lake, then a river and its small waterfall. Arriving on the Gap of Dunloe, we make a lot of photos stops.
It's the most scenic road we used in Ireland : black mountains, rivers, lakes, meadows... It's very beautiful. We finish the tour of the Ring of Kerry at 8 pm.
Sunday july 3 : no rain this morning ! We go to O'Sullivan Cascade. We take a road that becomes a rocky track with holes. We don't go any further with this car with a low clearance. Furthermore, we are not sure that the waterfall is here. We join Killarney. We visit the huge cathedral, which is impressive, and the city. It's quite alive for a sunday morning. At 11:30 am we leave for Ross Castle. Sunny, covered, warm, 20°. We make a walk around the castle.
For a visit, it's 4€ and it's guided. We leave to go to Ladie's View. The view is nice.
We stop a little farther to picnic. We are not bad with a nice view ... when a bus of about 50 people arrives. And there comes to my mind the song of Renaud "I was quiet, I was painful ...". We take the road to Molls Gap. It's not as good ... except for the ice cream, too good! We then return on the road to Gap of Dunloe. We stop for a moment at the lake at the bottom of the descent in laces.
Then we go to Cromane Point on the seafront, but there is nothing to see, not even a beach. We go back to our hostel and go to eat in a restaurant where the footbal game "France vs Iceland" is showed.
Monday july 4 : it rains, to change ! Departure at 8:55 for Rock of Cashel, in the land. We arrive at the end of the morning. It's 4,50€ for the parking and 7€ per person for the entrance to the church. There is a lot of people. A little farther, there is a chapel, Hore Abbey, in ruins, accessible by foot from Rock of Cashel. We start our visit by this one. It's well preserved and it's less crowdy.
Then we visit the church of Rock of Cashel and its adjoining cemetery with Celtic crosses.
We picnic by the parking lot and then we leave at 2:15 pm in the direction of Cork. We arrive at the hotel, the Commons Express Inn, around 4 pm. The city of Cork looks big and has a lot of traffic, it does not make you want to go for a walk. We look at the map looking for a walk to avoid getting locked up until the evening and decided to go to Blarney Castle, not far from the hotel and easy to get to by car. The entrance is 13 € per person. The park is very large, we stroll in the castle,
then we cross the poisoned garden, the fern garden with its waterfall and finally we visit the Druid garden. This park is very beautiful. We spent our last evening in the restaurant of the hotel.
Tuesday july 5 : we pack up our belongings. Then we leave for Avis to return the rental car. It is not very well indicated. It is necessary to follow "airport" and "car hire" then park the car and enter the airport to reach the Avis counter. The keys are returned without verification of the vehicle. We made 2757 kms. We then go to the departure and boarding areas. We take off at 12:00 pm to arrive in Paris at 3:15 pm (local time). We pick up the luggage and call Parkineo to pick us up. We get our car and then we find ourselves in the traffic ... We put 3h00 to arrive at the house instead of 1h30.
Copyright Magali and David BELLEC