The land of green hills, steep cliffs, ancient castle ruins and the mythical leprechauns. It’s not hard to guess what we chose as our first destination of this year. No, we were not looking for a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end, but for some impressive landscapes and a dose of adventure.
With our VW minibus on the ferry
As if the landscapes of Ireland were not green enough, we traveled from Cherbourg, France with our olive green Volkswagen T2 ‘74 dormobile. For the next two weeks, Ireland would be our first trial for our oldtimer bus.
Once arrived at Rosslare, we set course towards, Lough Hyne, a small lake in the southwest of Cork. The lake is unique since it’s fed with tidel currents from the Atlantic Ocean via Barloge Creek, a section also known as The Rapids. The tide makes that you can paddle from Lough Hyne to the ocean twice a day. We had to wait till next morning before we were able to launch our kayak in the lake. The incredible weather (are we in Ireland?) ensured us an amazing view on the cliffs of the Irish coastline.
Wild Atlantic Way
A kayak tour on the Atlantic Ocean and a exploration is a sea cave later, we stood back on solid ground at the shores of Lough Hyne. The next few days we would spend driving our VW bus on the Beara Peninsula, Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, all sections of the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2500 kilometer long coastal route claiming a reputation of being on the world’s most scenic routes. And with a weather forecast looking like it came from Spain, it would live up to the expectations. But the peak – literally – on the Iveragh peninsula would be our climb on Carrauntoohill. Oddly enough, it would seem harder to find the starting point of the climb (thanks to our failing gps) than to climb it.
The basking sharks of Dingle
‘What’s the weather gonna be like?’ A question you have to ask yourself everyday when you’re traveling through rainy Ireland and there is only one answer to, according to an Irishman we met on Dingle: “Opening the curtains and take a look.’ The weather on Ireland is too volatile to predict. Unfortunately, on Dingle we experienced the backside of our four-leaf clover. Right at the moment we were getting closer to our two biggest adventures: kayaking in front of the Cliffs of Moher and kayaking at the extreme tip of the Dingle peninsula, Slea Head, near the Blaskets Islands. This is the place where the basking shark (second largest shark species in the world) is often spotted. (Read our post on how to see the Basking sharks?) Kayaking while the wide-opened mouth of a basking shark reaches the surface was the moment we were looking forward to the most. However, the many gusts of wind made it impossible to kayak at the ocean. Despite a last attempt at Wine Strand to see the sharks, we were left disappointed.
Cliffs of Moher
Not only did we not get to see any sharks, but our kayaking adventure near the Cliffs of Moher came under pressure. Kayaking on waves reaching three meters above your kayak isn’t the safest activity if you’re paddling on the ocean in front the of famous cliffs. We stayed two days in Doolin, so we decided to spend the first day hiking the coastal path. An impressive as well as scenic trail, getting real close the the edge of the 200 meter cliffs at some point and which made us forget the terrible weather we had experienced these last few days. Unfortunately, the wind hadn’t diminished and we decided to stow away our plans definitively. Or at least, till our next visit to Ireland.