This weeks post seems very long - so have split it in to 2 parts.
Tues 15th May.
As the last photo on yesterday’s blog shows - our stunning view was gone on waking today.
No worries we are travelling on to Glengariff to explore the Breara peninsular. After a lovely bacon sandwich - van rules - poor weather = hot breakfast , we headed back on the Ring of Kerry towards Kenmare. Needless to say the views were more atmospheric than stunning today.
Compare a view from yesterday.
To on the road today
Actually this is the road between Kenmare and Glengariff - around 500m altitude (a bit like the high Yorkshire Dales) and which was very hilly, rocky, with tunnels through the high bits. Very different to the Ring of Kerry road.
It was misty and raining throughout the journey.
To cheer us up we decided to have a coffee stop at roadside tearoom at Molly Gallivan’s 200 year old farm and tea room.
It was done in the style of a home around the time of The Famine. There was a visitor centre with a recreated room , but also many small shops at the rear of the place selling Irish artisan knitware, pottery etc.
The two (male) staff were dressed in waistcoats and neckerchiefs like in a period drama and far too irishly cheerful for us grumpy yorkshire folk. We asked which one was Molly (they looked vacant as though this was the first time anyone had asked them that) and ordered a capuccino and a coffee with hot milk. No capuccino so two coffees. Molly One shuffled his feet and asked what we meant by hot milk. “It’s milk heated up”, said Graham. More shuffling ... “in a microwave, just to stop the coffee from getting cold”. Ah, said a relieved Molly.
We sat in the very dark tea area - a bit like a Nellies (Old Beverley Pub) and actually the coffee was very good, hit the spot with a Guinness cake. We imagine the next time someone comes in for a coffee Molly will cheerfully ask with his new found skills whether they want hot or cold milk with it.
And Carol succumbed to buying a wee artisan ceramic dish with a sheep handle as Graham muttered that it would be much cheaper elsewhere.
It will be a lovely souvenir of a really strange place - a German couple who also stopped for a warm drink left with looks of bemusement.
Said wee dish with nuts served before dinner later with a pre dinner drink - how civilised!
Said wee dish with nuts served before dinner later with a pre dinner drink - how civilised!
We arrived in Glengariff just before 2pm - so pitched up at Glengariff campsite - 2 kms out of the village and had lunch in the van as the rain continued to pour.
Around 4 pm the weather looked to be improving so to prevent us going stir crazy we headed into the village on the bikes.
The site had a menu at reception advertising Fish and Chips in the site Bar - hurrah a night off van cooking to look forward to!
We walked along the village street which looked a little worn - perhaps not fully ready for the season yet.
We found the ferry quays - we hope to visit the famous Garinish Island tropical gardens tomorrow if the weather bucks up. In the meantime we took a short walk through some woods with nice views of the small islands of the coast. This would really lovely in the sun.
Then back to the site - to see that the menu had been taken down and for the receptionist to inform us the bar was only open at weekends! Mon dieu! Luckily we have the remnants of a Tesco value meal - gammon with a long sell by date - so we can look forward to another van supper ...... Oh joy (C)
Weds 16th May
Woke to blue skies - hurrah!
Carol decided to shower in the site facilities and was very impressed - a new large shower room with wc, sink and large shower with great hot water! The last time we’ve seen showers as good as this was in Scotland in 2013 - so a big well done to Glengariff Camping.
After packing a picnic lunch we cycled to the Bluepool ferry.
What a stunning place to catch a ferry. When we came last night the tide was in and the moonlike rocks were submerged. Much nicer this morning.
A pleasant 10 min crossing with pictureque views we passed a house that once belonged to Maureen O’Hara the actress and a colony of seals basking in the sun.
Garinish Island also known as Ilnacullen was a barren outcrop until Annan Bryce with his wife Violet decided to create an Italianate garden on it in the early 20th century. He commisioned the English architect Harold Peto to design the garden. It is planted with exotic plants which thrive in the micro climate - there is a walled garden, an Italian garden, a Grecian style temple, a “jungle” area leading to a 19th century Martello tower built to watch out for a possible Napoleonic invasion. An area called Happy Valley. The whole place is spectacular.
There is also a sweet cottage built in the 1910’s and extended by Annan’s son in the 1940’s - called Bryce House. Originally the plan was to build a grand mansion incorporating the Martello tower as a music room but the family fell on hard times - having to sell their London home and live in the cottage on the island - Roland the son still managing to fund an extensive extension.
We had a fantastic(free) tour of the house led by an enthusiastic young guide called Maeve. The house has been left as it would have been at the time - the cottage part very Arts and Crafts style and the ‘40s extension rather up to date for it’s time - with a master bedroom with ensuite! Many family objects and paintings decorate the rooms - stuff which would have been rescued from grander days before they had to sell up. The family had an outstanding Scottish gardener Murdo Mackenzie who remained in charge of the gardens until 1971 well after the death of Roland Bryce in 1953 when the house was gifted to the state..The housekeeper Maggie remained in the house until the 1990’s. Mauve spoke with affection about the whole family and stated that even in her 90’s Maggie would take herself by boat to the mainland accompanied by her terrier dog to midnight mass at Christmas. In it’s day the house was visited by the great and good - including prime ministers, authors, painters including George Bernard Shaw.
This is the Italian Garden
And the view from behind the garden
The walled garden
The Grecian temple
And the view from the temple
We spent 4 hours there and could have spent more - a beautiful place. The views of the surrounding countryside and hills were fantastic from it’s highest points.We climbed to the top of the Martello tower but our photos didn’t do the view justice.
Back to the site where we enjoyed sitting out by the van in warm sunshine sheltered from the wind. What a difference a day makes!
Tonight off to have dinner in Glengariff - probably at Mccarthys Bar - Carol has fond memories of reading a book by Pete McCarthy about his quest to have a drink in every McCarthy Bar in Ireland - now Graham is feeling a tad better we could follow his footsteps for the rest of our trip!
Actually just looked and this is not the same spelling - oh well - near enough!
Had a lovely meal including locally caught Bantry Bay mussels to start and fresh today Hake. The bar is attached to a hotel so we enjoyed nosily observing the American, French and Russian residents as they interacted. Can’t resist the snatched conversations of others!...
Score for Glengariff Camping 9/10 - friendly site with good facilities - just too far out to walk into the town and we were attacked with midges the last evening!
Thurs 17th May
Today we will drive the ring of Beara. We set off just before 11 am heading in the direction of Castletownbere.
The scenery was fantastic as we drove along the coast with the high hills the other side. Pass the highest Sugarloaf (think every region of Eire has one of these) and Hungry Hill.
A view coast side.
We headed for the furthest point where Eire’s only cable car carries people across to a small island called Dursey Island. Evidentally the submerged rocks and rip tides make a ferry too restrictive and dangerous so they installed a cable car to get across. (Why go across in the first place I’m not too sure). Nowadays the traffic is sheep and walkers. Sheep take preference over walkers.
Before we got there we called in to a lovely community centre with café which called itself Cable Car Café. Actually it was not near the cable car and did not have a view. After a lovely warm homemade chocolate brownie and coffee, - on advice of a sweet Irish lady and her husband who were returning from Dursey Island the road was too narrow for a campervan and we’d be better to bike down. They assured us the road down was relatively flat. Well it may be relatively flat in a car but not on a bike! About 3 miles later up hill and down, mostly down - the pain is always in the return - we arrived at the cable car to find a large parking area filled with cars and several larger-than-ours campervans - What!!
The views down were lovely though, and we were glad we biked - some of the best views of the holiday.
As the cable car had stopped for lunch we had lunch from the mobile café - as Graham had forgotten his wallet - we shared a portion of chips and 1 sausage (deep fried) - all the change in Carol’s pocket could afford. Graham commented “this is the second meal out we have had in a row” - Carol choking on her 1/2 sausage tried to agree.
We ate our feast near this sign overlooking the cable car.
We watched the cable car arrive from the island.
On the rather strenuous ride back (for Graham - Carol has her battery!), Carol spotted this use of a Mark 1 cable car as a chicken hut. You can see the development work on the Mark II version was well worth the investment.
We continued on stopping off at Allihies where there was a copper mining museum and café. In the 1800’s the landowners the Puxley family found copper deposits and developed mining which at one time numbered a workforce of 1300 men, women and children. Experienced miners from Cornwall were brought in.Working conditions were dangerous and unhealthy. By the 1960’s the last mine was closed. The museum was uninspiring - just a room with information boards but the tea and cream scone was great!
The evidence of a mine in the distance as we drove by.
We continued on travelling through rugged countryside and beautiful coastline and passing through pretty villages.
This village is supposed to have been use for many films
After completing the full ring of Beara we settled on staying over at a farm site just north of Kenmare.
A basic small site with a view of the sheep and lambs....aww....
Well until a late arrival of a thumping great lump of an Austrian campervan mountain blocked the view!
Score for Kenmare Camping 6/10 - convenient stopover, actually the only stopover, the facilities in the old barn were a tad rustic!
Fri 18th May
Today we set off to the Dingle peninsula passing through the lovely looking town of Kenmare - unfortunately too far from last nights stopover farm site to find a McCarthys Bar!
En route we completed the east side of the Ring of Kerry on the road back to Killarney, passing the outstanding view of Lady’s View. Queen Victoria’s lady in waiting (one of) said it was the finest view in the realm, actually, her boss’s realm. It is very very nice, and it brings into focus the lochs, sorry loaghs, that feed all the way into Muckross Lake, where we cycled round in week 2.
A couple of views along the way.
From Killarney we drove on to the Dingle peninsular and headed for the Inch spit - a 6km long sand spit that runs in to Dingle Bay.
A location for the film Ryan’s Daughter.
We were delighted to see you can park right on the beach.
We headed off for a walk with Graham offering encouragement to Carol like to a toddler - “look we’re nearly there”
An hour and a half later we returned to the van with Carol’s knees protesting.
Had a lovely cup of tea overlooking the beach and the latest surf school recruits - they’ll be nithered when they take their wetsuits off!
Another rather hazy view as we left.
Graham had driven so much yesterday so we decided to just set off for this nights campsite Anchor Caravan Park on the north of the peninsula near Castlegregory. We’ll see how the weather fares tomorrow with the aim of doing the Ring of Dingle and returning to the campsite for another night.