It was a dry but blustery day as we headed down towards Hook Head. A few miles out of Wexford we spotted a small stall by the side of the road selling strawberries. Wexford, we discovered, was the home of Irish Strawberries. We came to an abrupt halt, scaring the vendor half to death, bought a couple of punnets of fresh local strawberries for the princely sum of five euros and started feasting on them before we’d even pulled away. These stalls would be a common sight all the way through the county of Wexford, many also offering raspberries and potatoes for sale.
It was as we were rejoining the road a little red light lit up on the dashboard.
After the moment of panic passed, having noticed it was the battery light and not the oil light, we continued on and decided to stop at Tintern Abbey for a look around and to check what was up with the van. We could see that the leisure batteries weren’t charging either, so clearly something alternator related had happened.
Popping the bonnet open we found the alternator belt to be missing. A quick look under the van found the remains dangling from the undertray. We had a spare, so it was just a matter of getting it fitted. In the mean time, we connected an invertor into the leisure batteries, plugged in the battery charger and went off for a wander around the Abbey. It didn’t look interesting enough to go into so we carried on past and into the surrounding woodland where we were met with an oh-so-familiar smell.
Lush green Ransomes, better known as wild garlic, grew everywhere. Although getting late in year for them, edible leaves were abundant. We leapt in harvested a few handfuls under the suspicious gaze of passers by.
Finished with our foraging we continued on with our journey to Hook Head and pondered our next move. Being Sunday there were no garages open to help us and without a decent jack or the axle stands it wasn’t a job we were going to do ourselves. The decision was made to find a campsite and get an electric hookup for the night, ensuring we could charge all the van’s batteries. We’d hoped to wildcamp on the headland, but we keeping the van’s starter battery charged was of higher priority.
The narrow and winding roads that lead down to the lighthouse brought new meaning to the definition of bumpy. As we bounced and crashed our way along the road, darting into passing places when meeting oncoming traffic, the number of cyclists grew and grew. Clearly Sunday bike rides are very popular in the region and it was a joy to see so many people enjoying themselves on two wheels.
In the windy conditions the headland feels a wild place. Waves crash over the rocks soaking anyone who ventures too near the edge. There has been a light on Hook Head as far back as 500AD, originally a fire kept alive by monks to guard sailors against shipwreck on the rocky shore. In the thirteenth century a tower was built to guide shipping into the port of Ross, further up the estuary. By the seventeenth century the tower had fallen into disuse and ships began to be wrecked on the headland, leading to the refurbishment of the tower, which included the introduction of a lantern arrangement to protect the fire that provide the light. In nineteenth century the lighthouse was took the shape that we see today, although the light would have been burning whale oil rather than the electric light we see now. We took the tour up the tower to the balcony which gives fantastic views over the local area, but we weren’t allowed in to see the light itself.
A coastal path leads away from the lighthouse which we followed for a while, watching a solitary seal hunt for fish just offshore, before returning back the way we came and heading off to find a local campsite, discovering that campsites in this area are even more expensive than Wexford. We settled in for the evening, Rosana preparing a dinner of pasta with wild garlic pesto.
Betty’s Recipe of the Day
Wild Garlic Pesto:
A couple of large handfuls of wild garlic, washed and finely chopped.
A small handful of toasted nuts, finely chopped. We used pine nuts and cashew nuts.
Grated Parmesan cheese.
Oil. We used Rapeseed oil, but a good Olive oil would be better.
Mix it all together in a jar, great on pasta, potatoes, bread or in soups.
As the evening drew in and the wind dropped we flew kites in the ample space of the campsite which encouraged the young girl in the only other van on the site to drag her parents out to fly her kite as well. As the wind became more fickle and flying less fun, we retired to the van to search for a garage that could help us fit the new alternator belt.