Tea in the Park

van

After an evening hiding from the midges, we woke to another beautiful windless day and seemingly even more midges. There was only one thing for it, run for the coast and hope there would be enough breeze there to scupper the winged menaces.

beach

Able to squeeze under the height barriers at Rossbehy beach we breakfasted on the rocks and watched the tide quickly recede, revealing miles of sandy beach. We took long and thankfully midge free walk along a beach, paddling in the water, dodging jellyfish and startling hermit crabs.

Selfie

wrecked

After brushing the sand from between our toes it was time to get back on the Ring and head inland. For the next few days we would make our base Killarny, gateway to the Killarny National Park.

Starting from Muckross House, we took a walk around the lower lake, the trees sheltering us from the scorching sun for much of the route. All around us were purple hued mountains, some of the colour coming from the rock, some coming from great swarths of rhododendrons, an invasive species that has all but conquered the mountainsides.

trees

boats

Trees

bridge

It was too all too much of a temptation. After a stop for a cup of tea at a conveniently placed tea shop we decided to head up a hill, despite the heat. Following the well trodden path over Torc mountain we found a rarity in mountain walks as tree cover provided much needed shelter from the unrelenting sun. As we ran low on water a nearby stream constantly teased us, but we could find no way to get to it. Finally we happened across a small gully with enough water flowing to fill our bottle from.

sign

path

view

water

As we took a break at the bottom of the descent we chatted with Noel, an elderly gentleman who’d been out for his afternoon walk to the local waterfall. We learnt from him that it was Queen Victoria who had introduced the dreaded Rhododendrons to the area, but there wasn’t much they could do about it now and despite one of us being English, he didn’t hold us personally responsible. We thanked him and he recommended a trip to the Torc waterfall, so we took his advice and were rewarded with a lovely refreshing supply of water, although the fall was clearly not in full flow.

Torc falls

In need of a shower we picked a campsite for the evening and were settling in when another Westfalia California arrived, this one with Dutch plates. They parked up next to us as Westfalia law dictates. We chatted a while as we got our diner underway, making use of our dutch oven by strange coincidence.

Westfalia for the win!

Vanlife


 

Betty’s Recipe of the Day – Potato Wedges

Get a fire or bbq coals going.

Preheat the dutch oven using 1/4 of the coals below and 3/4 on the lid, we want an oven rather than a frying pan.

Ingredients:

A couple of potatoes, cut into wedges.
A couple of cloves of garlic, chopped.
Handful of mixed herbs, chopped. We used those old classics, Rosmary and Thyme.
Oil, we used Rapeseed.
If you want a little punch to your wedges, add a chili, chopped.

Method:

Mix the oil, herbs and garlic (and chili if using).
Mix in the wedges, coating each one liberally.

Fold a piece of tinfoil into a tray the approximate shape of the dutch oven base, with edges so that you can pick it up when loaded with wedges.

Place the wedges thick side down, pointy edge up, on the foil tray. drizzle with any left over oil/herb mix.

Quickly, so as not to lose too much heat, remove the lid of the oven lower in the foil tray of wedges and replace the lid.

It depends on the amount of heat you have, but roast for for around 40 mins or so, until they have a nice colour and are cooked through.


 

There are many ways to follow the road through the gap of Dunloe, a horse and cart can be hired for the journey, some cycle and many enjoy it on foot. Although the signposts recommend not to, the route can also be driven bearing in mind that it is a single track road filled with walkers, cyclists and horses.

horse

We chose to follow the route on foot, starting from Kate Kearneys Cottage. The Gap of Dunloe was formed by glaciers, leaving what is now a scenic pass between Purple Mountain and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. It looked like it was going to be another scorcher of a day, so we set of early. Well, as early as we could manage, which probably isn’t exactly the same thing as early.

The road zigzags across streams, passing fields of horses and sheep. It’s all paved, so the walking is easy. The horse drawn carts pass us at regular intervals, some asking if we want a ride, others already full of customers, many waving at us as they pass us. The occasional car comes through as well, but not so many as to be a bother.

The heat is starting to do strange things to us. Dan starts dreaming of bacon sandwiches for some reason, while later on the return leg Rosana develops a craving for pizza. As we reach the end of our walk our thoughts turn to more immediate matters, tea and cake from the local cafe.

pretty

more pretty

sheep portrait

bridge

We examine our map of Ireland while we rest our feet, drink our tea and eat our cakes. We’ve heard there is something akin to a continental aire in the town of Cobh and knowing nothing about the place, we decide that should be our next destination.

Sign

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Footprints in the Sand

Dry land. We’re staying on dry land, Rosana insisted. Sure, lied Dan. Well, not lied exactly, but he had his fingers crossed.

Mannix Point

Our fist stop was in Ballinskellig and something we’d seen while looking for a camping spot the previous evening, a chocolate factory. Skelligs Chocolate Factory is located near the coast and as well as offering tasting sessions, provided a great view of the Skellig Islands, certainly a better view than we’d had the day before when we were actually on them. An enthusiastic young chocoholic guided us through the various chocolatey offerings before we settled on some we really liked, rather than liked a lot, or merely just liked. Since we had a working fridge this year we bought a few bags with the intention of bringing them home. One bag even made it that far.

Beach

Stopping for lunch and a cup of tea on a lovely sandy beach we considered our next move. Valentia, suggested Dan, leaving off the word ‘Island’. Rosana was immediately suspicious. She was cleverer than that and knew it to be an Island. Ah, but we can get onto the island on the bridge at the southern end, explained Dan, failing to mention the ferry crossing back to the mainland from the Northern end of the Island.

An interesting and pretty place, Valentia Island takes you back though history. Quite a long way back as it happens.

Clock

Before we sent satellites to circle the planet, but some time after that era when dinosaurs were masters of the earth, all electronic communication across the atlantic was achieved using some very long strands of copper and Valentia was home to the first permanent communications cable between America and Europe. It was a story of real perseverance and there were a number of failed cable laying projects before a successful link was established. Today the site is marked with a memorial stone.

Stone

Speaking of dinosaurs – which we might have been a few seconds ago – if we step back in time a little more, say about 385 million years or so, we would have found little dinosaurs running around the place. Luckily the little critters left their footprints and dragged their tails through the mud to let us know that they’d been there. We’d had the argument before when we visited the Isle of Wight. Rosana didn’t believe that they were dinoprints. Dan will believe anything you tell him about dinosaurs (and still hasn’t forgiven Steven Spielberg over the whole Velociraptor thing). Slightly closer to now a man of science found some holes in the rocks and declared them to be Tetrapod footprints.

Sign

Dan saw the holes and agreed, declaring them to be wee footprints left by our prehistoric friends. Rosana declared Dan to be an fool who’ll believe anything you tell him.

Dinoprints.  Or not.

The argument raged on to the point that Rosana almost failed to notice the ferry crossing off the island. Back on the mainland we headed a little bit north around the Ring and found a picnic area to camp in. Up half a mile or so of unpaved, potholed, bumpy and suspension killing track, the spot would have been idyllic if not for the midges that descended upon us when the wind dropped.