We rolled into the wildcamping spot at around half past ten in the evening, a little carpark in a cove near Fishguard on the west coast of Wales. There were a few other vans overnighting there, but plenty of space for all of us and it didn’t feel crowded.
The final part of the engine rebuild had been completed at lunchtime the previous day, the last leak found and fixed and in an almost symbolic gesture of completion, the engine undertray that had been leaning against the back of the van for almost three months was bolted back on. As a consequence of not knowing if we’d be back on the road or not we were heading out on a trip that was even more unplanned that last year’s trip to Germany, where our intended destination flooded and the fridge started going wrong on day one. But the van had driven the long ribbon of tarmac of the M4 across England and Wales without missing a beat, we had our ferry bookings and we had a couple of days worth of water on board, it was time to get back to having adventures. We were going to Ireland.
Our basic plan, if we were to call it that, involved catching the two thirty ferry to Rosslare and a quick drive up to Wexford where we had a campsite booked for the night. After that we figured we would continue to head west for the Ring of Kerry on the other side of Ireland and then work our way back to Rosslare where we were booked on the nine o’clock ferry on the longest day of the year. That gave us two weeks of exploring.
It was fantastic to be sleeping in the van again and we got a good night’s rest. After a short wander around the coastal path that led away from our camping spot we set off towards the ferry terminal, stopping along the way to pick up some food for dinner from the local shops. Everything was running on time and we were soon onboard the ferry.
The Irish sea has a reputation for being a bit rough. Rosana doesn’t like boats at the best of times and was therefore not looking forward to the three and a half hour crossing. Dan loves boats and will bore anyone willing to listen with stories of crossing monstrous seas to get to Shetland, cramped conditions on salvage vessels in the tropics and fighting sea monsters off the coast of Belgium, so was quite looking forward to the trip. With a wind speed of around force three on the beaufort scale, the crossing was uneventful and the giant ferry hardly noticed the sea state as we crossed the seemingly still green water, losing sight of Wales before finally spotting our destination in the distance.
The ferry, the Stena Europe, was well appointed with restaurant and coffee shop and felt quite spacious. There was plenty of space outside too if you wanted to take in the sea air. For those that wanted to stay inside, they showed a film in the coffee shop, although we couldn’t hear it, so gave up on that.
The verdict: Rosana thought it was a bit rough, Dan thought he’d been on rougher train journeys.
Disembarking was quick and efficient and we made our way to the campsite for our first night in Ireland. Our first impressions were that the roads were bumpy and the campsites expensive. Feeling quite tired by now we cooked a quick dinner of vegetable rice and steak using our new toy. Over at Landcruising Adventure they were extolling the virtues of pressure cookers. They use much less water and because cooking time is much shorter and at lower heat setting, use less cooking fuel (meths in our case). It seemed obvious, so we got a small one to try out and while it may not be as cool as Coen and Karin-Marijke’s ‘dragon’, it was very successful. A simple meal, from start to table in around 15 minutes.
Betty’s Recipe of the Day
Add a handful of spinach leaves and grate a carrot into the rice. Cook in a pressure cooker (4 minutes once pressure is reached).
Cook to your liking in a hot pan (4 minutes per side for medium rare on our alcohol stove).
Leave to rest, then slice into 1cm strips.
Serve with a leafy side salad
While loading the van with water for the next few days travelling we chatted with David, an Irish T4 owner that was also staying at the campsite. We chatted about vans, his being a similar age but different engine and conversion to ours and about campsites and possible wild camp locations along the south coast. We wished each other safe journeys, his back home after a weekend away, ours only just beginning.
We looked at the map and had a flick through the guide book. It wasn’t a hard decision, our first destination was to be Hook Head and possibly the oldest working lighthouse in the world.