Over the last 2 weeks I have been lucky enough to get out to more of my favourite locations around Ireland. I have continued my blogging journey to the Dingle Peninsula on a beautifully grey Sunday afternoon with my trusty walking companion, my collie Layla. We walked a number of sections of the Dingle Way and enjoyed the stunning views over the Dingle bay while I tried to ensure Layla didn’t go over the edge of the cliffs! I feel that you are most definitely missing out if you have not visited Ireland in the winter – standing on the shores of Dingle Bay watching the Atlantic Ocean raging set against the back drop of snow topped mountains is a wonderful experience.
This weekend I headed north to cover some of the plethora of routes contained in the counties of Clare and Galway. My luck with the notorious Irish weather continued as you will see from my photos the weather was stunning on both days which again begs the question why we don’t see more walkers or cyclists’ in the winter months. The weather is so good even the sheep and their lambs playing in the fields think it must be spring time!
On Saturday I walked the beautiful route from Hags Head to Doolin along the infamous Cliffs of Moher. This is a most enjoyable 14km walk with very little elevation change and with views like this you wish the walk went on for twice the distance.
After some lunch in Doolin it was on to Rosaveel in County Galway to catch the ferry to Inis Mor. Inis Mór – (meaning big island) as its name suggests is the biggest of the 3 Aran Islands. Lying in a North-westerly direction across Galway Bay, Inis Mór is approximately 12km in length and 3km in width. Inis Mor is a beautiful place with many of todays’ modern conveniences, comfortably co-existing with traditional practices and culture. Despite all the hardships they have endured over the years, the Aran Islands have stubbornly retained their strong, unique culture and way of life.
Sunday brought more sunshine so I borrowed bike and off I set off to explore this unique landscape.
As it was a Sunday in January the island was eerily quite which I loved. Cycling the 5 km up to Dun Aungus along what the locals call the “low road” meant I met no one but the seals sunning themselves on the rocks, just meters away, giving me the feeling of being the only person on the Island. This sense of tranquility is something very hard to find in the modern world. When you look up at Dun Aonghasa, prehistoric stone fort, from the approaching road you can only imagine the feeling of intimidation that attacking clans would have felt as they approached this imposing structure perched on top of the hill in a landscape so bare.
After a visit to the information centre at Dun Aonghasa it was back on my bike in search of the “Serpents Lair”- Poll na bPeist as it is known In Gaelic. This naturally formed rock pool is a fascinating wonder of nature and well worth the short walk over the Inis Mor moonscape. With the sun beating down on me and taking inspiration from the recent Red Bull Diving Contest held here I was tempted to dive in but knowing the Atlantic Sea temperatures at this time of year I thought better of it!
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the different bays and cliff faces of the Island before flying back to the Mainland in the smallest plane I have ever seen! With just 6 passenger seats the Aer Arann flight from Inis Mor is an experience not to be missed. The flight is only 10 mins in duration but you get a sweeping views of the Island and there are also options for specific scenic flights –
The west coast of Ireland is a wonderful place rich in history, culture and endless amazing views. I look forward to my next adventure as we prepare for a busy year showing our guests this country we love so well.
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