Low and behold we woke to a dry morning and more importantly a dry awning, plus it was Pods 2nd birthday and would be celebrated later. A 7 a.m. start on the cards for us but necessary as we had over 4 hours drive in front of us. Rain may have stopped but the wind had picked up a little and you’ve heard the phrase of ‘divorce by awning’, it came close and we’re not even married ..
Nevertheless, Pod was eventually packed up but it took a little longer as everything that had been on the ground was covered in mud so needed a quick wipe over.
On the road for 9.30 and on our way to Glenross Caravan and Camping Park. We travelled along motorways, N and R roads with ease, hardly any traffic and roads in great condition, the other great addition was local radio, it was fab listening to folk music but as for the presenters we couldn’t understand a word they were saying, not because of their accent, it was to do with the fact they were speaking Gaelic.
Satnav did its usual trick of giving us the wrong location and we ended up down a very narrow uneven road, after about five minutes we decided that this couldn’t possibly be right and did a three point turn in the driveway of a derelict cottage. Once back on the main road we carried on for another 50 metres and low and behold found the site.
Information relating to the site was given and after giving our thanks we chose a pitch with a view down to the coastline and Dingle Bay, pitches were again concrete but this time round we decided to pitch on the concrete, including the awning and try to secure the awning by other means. Trial and error but it was worth ago, only problem was the wind had picked up even more and it was going to be fun trying not to look complete fools if we ended up chasing the awning across the site.
With a bit of patience and planning the wind didn’t beat us, everything was soon set up and the awning was pegged down with every guy line we could find, the wind had turned to strong gusts and whilst one of us hung onto the awning for dear life the other pegged it down.
As the base of the awning wasn’t pegged it would need a little extra grounding so we drove down to the shore line and came face to face with the Wild Atlantic Way, no mincing with words here we thought, it was wild and it was the Atlantic ocean. The awesome power of it was clear to see and hear with the combination of the strong winds and high waves bashing into the rocky coastline.
After being blown around during a short walk we eventually picked up some sizeable stones and once back at Pod these were soon piled round the outsides in the hope that along with the guy lines these would stop the awning from doing a scene from the Wizard of Oz.
During our drive we passed a few pubs so now all was in order with Pod we decided to take a chance and leave her unattended for an hour or so whilst we partook of a beverage or two, sole purpose to wish Pod a happy 2nd Birthday of course.
We picked the Towers Hotel in the centre of Glenbleigh and soon had a couple of pints of Guinness in front of us, the pub appeared popular with the locals and whilst sat discussing our plans for the following day we noticed some sat with a pint of milk with their meals, we’d seen this before and it seemed to be the norm between young and old and not the stereotypical view of the Irish, very healthy indeed.
We eventually moved from the pub and into the local take away. Pizza and chips were bought and we then made a mad dash back to Pod as the food was piping hot and we wanted it to be eaten that way. This was easily demolished and enjoyed whilst watching a wonderful sunset from the back of Pod.
Showers were next and they worked out well, a whole 8 minutes for 1€, we felt quite spoilt, the showers were powerful and hot and not wanting to waste even a second once done with we stood idle under it resisting the urge to tap our feet whilst waiting for it to finish. Individual showers we hasten to add, just conferred once back at Pod.
Woke to a windy but dry morning so we decided to explore more of the coastline and the Wild Atlantic Way, after consulting a map provided by the site we began the tour by heading in the direction of Portmagee, the route there was along the WAW designated route and took us along narrow winding roads which were lined by tall dense hedgerows, the return of the rain didn’t help as it cast a thick low mist preventing us from seeing anything beyond the hedges and down to the shoreline.
We rolled into Portmagee and cruised around looking at the small multicoloured terraced cottages that lined the harbour, rain was doing its best to obscure anything further than the car windows as we crossed the bridge over to Valentia Island, it is accessible by ferry further down the coast but we fancied the bridge and the option to arrive anytime, doubt very much that the ferry was running today anyway because on crossing we noticed the sea looked a tad choppy.
Our little site map provided us with information on a couple of walks so the first on the list was Bray Head, this was right on the coast, once in the carpark the wind had turned the rain horizontal and those who were attempting the walk looked like they were battling a tornado with one step forward and two steps back. Needless to say we didn’t even get out of the car, we’re usually game no matter the weather but lots yet to be seen and we didn’t want to spend it looking like we’d been dragged through a hedge backwards.
On round the island we drove, along the coast, past the lighthouse and into Knightstown. Rain and mist surrounded us and as thought there were no ferry rides today, we’d half hoped we’d be able to get a boat ride to Skellig Michael which housed an 8th century monastery and where after a 12km boat ride there was something in the region of 600 steps to climb, but this wasn’t possible on this visit.
We continued our drive round and eventually ended up at the bridge which had brought us to the island, once back over we continued along the WAW and ended up on the Sellig Ring, another circular route of the area. This route took us into St. Finian’s Bay and even though the wind could easily of knocked us off our feet one of us got out of the car to do a Facebook live moment, had to be done to be believed and even though the footage is there on our page, should you wander over to it you can’t hear a word said but you will see a woman doing yoga on the beach whilst her loony dog runs round having a fine old time.
From here we went onto Ballinskelligs, a lovely golden sand beach on which we observed two women running out of the sea and up the beach to their cars, both were laughing and falling over, not sure if it was from the exhilarating swim they had just had or the realisation they were both mad for doing it in the first place. Seems these Irish woman are made of sterner stuff, explains LadyB too ;).
Waterville was our next stop and the rain had reduced itself to drizzle, a walk along the prom followed and a fab little statue of Charlie Chaplin was found, there was even a queue forming to have pictures taken with him, apparently it was a favourite holiday place of his.
Tummies were beginning to rumble and after having a five minute wander through the Comedy Film Festival Centre we called into O’Dwyers for lunch, full Irish breakfast for one and homemade vegetable soup for the other, all went down very well and on leaving the weather had remained much the same, great shame really because the coastline we had seen had been wonderful but had the sun come out it would have been breathtaking. Maybe next time.
The drive back took us through the countryside, there were fields rolling away in every direction and all of various shade of green, some were emerald rich in colour and you couldn’t help but stare as the breeze slowly wafted the tall slim grass, mesmerising.
Back at Pod pictures were downloaded and scrutinised and we had a right old giggle over the footage taken at St. Finian’s Bay. Dinner time was soon on us and the multi cooker came out again for Chilli, veggie sausage paella, delicious.
After a potter round Pod we made plans for the next few days, Blarney Castle and the stone was our next day out but we had to fit some boring stuff in too, this for us was the laundry and required tokens for the site washing machine, these were available for 10€ at 5€ each for the washer and dryer, easy enough we hoped.
Off we set for Blarney Castle, 2 hour drive ahead but it passed quick enough and the weather seemed to be more mixed than just a continual down pour. Carpark was next to the castle entrance and was free which was good to see, we found a spot easily enough and as two coach loads had just arrived we decided to find somewhere for a bite to eat.
A short walk into the village and we saw a few places that looked good but opted for the Muskerry Arms, huge place inside, seating went all the way through the back and was also available upstairs, we grabbed a nice little table near the bar.
Food ordered and whilst we waited for its arrival we scanned the bar for the list of Irish whiskeys on offer and boy there were a few. Above the archway into the rear of the pub was a very large black board listing 43 named whiskeys of varying age and value and the prices per shot ranged from 3.75€ to 495.00€ ! amazing.
Lunch arrived and was easily disposed of and the time came to walk back to the castle in the hope the queue had gone down. As we turned the corner what should draw up metres from the entrance, a coach, from which people poured out onto the road, they were all congregating on the pathway and we took this opportunity to speed walk to the entrance and made it just before they turned and headed in our direction.
Payment of 15€ each was made and we were told there was a 1 1/2hr wait to kiss the stone, it’s primarily what we had come to do so this wasn’t an issue and joined the queue at the bottom of the tower.
The queue moved along nicely and we could clearly see people above us leaning backwards over the edge and ‘doing the deed’. Mad really, all kissing a huge rock embedded in the wall because in 1446 a block of carboniferous stone was built into the battlements of the castle and according to which version of the legend you believe, those that kiss it are endowed with the gift of the gab.
We passed a small shop and a unit set up to receive/print pictures of the kissing in progress, you know, like the ones you see at amusement parks usually with faces screwed up with expressions of varying forms of horror and/or surprise.
Once passed we entered the ground floor of the tower and saw two local young looking lads who were playing musical instruments to an extremely good level, say instruments because we’ve no idea what they were, they seemed to be doing quite well out of it as tourists were literally throwing money at them.
Slowly edging our way along we began to see people going through the process, there wasn’t any hanging around though, sit, bend back, grab the rails, kiss the stone and up. The guy who was sat next to the stone wasn’t taking any messing and had everyone up and out with lighting speed and opposite him was another man who clicked the camera with the same systematic rhythm.
Our turn arrived and Mr.B went first; down, over, grab, kiss and up. LadyB just managed to snap a picture and the same was repeated on her turn, it was good to see that this was allowed and if a memento of the occasion was wanted you didn’t have to buy one.
First off we passed a cannabis plant in what was the biggest black wrought iron cage on view, there was no way anyone was getting their hands near the plant, this was next to catmint which if eaten by humans ‘could make them quarrelsome‘ and as we walked through it took us past plants like Wolfsbane which is now only heard of in Harry Potter novels, plus Poison Ivy which appeared determined to out grow its cage, it was fascinating to see and to read all the information boards describing the plants history and myths in great detail.
From here we walked to the stables passing very colourful Romani caravans and called into shop for ice creams, we then strolled through and round the grounds, passing the Fairy Glen and main house before arriving back at the castle, have to say, no fairies were seen on this occasion.
The sun had shone for most of the afternoon but the time had come to return to Pod and get on with the laundry, but not before we did a little food shopping whilst on the way back. We’d seen a Lidel en route so it seemed like the ideal opportunity to call in on the way back.
Food bought and once back at the site washing was put on in the laundry room, two sizeable washing machines and dryers were available and through the afternoon they did both jobs admirably.
Friday morning arrived soon enough and it looked like it was going to be a dry day. Muckross Abbey and House was on the menu but first off we had to find a hardware shop that sold outdoor mats. The first site, River Valley, their ground had been so sodden our little doormat had succumbed to the rain and mud, even attempts to clean it had failed and it was beginning to give off a very peculiar odour.
Shop found and mat bought so we carried on with our journey to the Abbey, en route we passed horse drawn carriages parked up in the middle of a roundabout.
Parking at the Abbey consisted of approximately 10 spaces if you were lucky, not us on this occasion, so we carried on up the road to the main carpark at Muckross House. Parking was free and we were pleasantly surprised by this, the only costs were to actually enter the house and as we were up for exploring the grounds we didn’t need to buy tickets for anything.
The gardens were incredible, everywhere was in bloom and the paths lead you through the grounds and along secret little paths which ran along the sides of streams and up through the woodland, a very peaceful experience.
Our walk took us to the lake and along Loch Lein, if you were quiet you could see the huge fish along the shore as they came up for air and further out on the lake lone fishermen were in their small wooden boats gliding along.
A few people were milling around and we entered the monastery to see memorial stones and tombs in all the rooms, this lead us through into a courtyard which was so serine, the stone lined walkway surrounded a wide tall yew tree whose branches were reaching up to the sky and out to the courtyard walls, people were quietly listening to someone playing a small harp and one gentleman was stood next to the tree with head bowed and one hand gently placed on the trunk of the tree.
We took our leave and went up a narrow spiral staircase to the first floor, this brought us out into a large room with a central fireplace, this then had corridors with tiny wooden door leading off in many directions, one side of the wall was lined with small oblong windows which looked out onto the yew tree in the centre.
The abbey had been truly spectacular and we were so pleased we’d made the effort to find it.
Our drive back to Pod was spent planning tactics for the following day as our time on the south west coast had come to an end and we were moving onto Knock the following day.
Back at the site the wind was picking up and turning into some quite blustery powerful gusts, as the awning base wasn’t tied down we knew if it got any worse we would be in for a challenging evening. Dinner was eaten and yes, we did spend the rest of the evening listening to the wind and on more than a few occasions we were jumping up to grab the awning and prevented it from doing a back flip over Pod, have to say though, our poppers we’d put down the side did a sterling job.
This went on for a good few hours and around midnight the wind eventually dropped enough for two very tired Podders to climb into bed, the fun would begin soon enough on the following day as our journey would begin up to Knock.. all to be revealed in Part 3.