A Celtic Carry On – Part 4

Very little to report from Thursday, as by the time I’d finishing faffing about with the blog it was early afternoon. We ended up in Killarney town for a late lunch/early tea. It’s a place quite obviously geared now for tourists – think ‘Traditional’ this and that, shops selling shamrock, leprechaun and Guinness novelties and lots of pubs. Lots. That having been said it’s a very pleasant place to stroll around – at least after you’ve hurtled back to the site to collect your wallet. The food at our chosen hostelry was average and but the beer went down well. When doesn’t it!

Friday saw us follow in the wake of countless tourists and drive around the route known as the Ring of Kerry. On the advice of the site owner we headed anti-clockwise because that was the way the coaches did it apparently. The first thing you will note from the photo’s is the weather – it was pretty grim at times but It didn’t spoil our enjoyment. Not much anyway.

There are plenty of brown tourists signs indicating places of interest on route but we inexplicably missed the one for the Gap of Dunloe which is one of the highlights of a tour around the Ring and a place which the chap on the Tesco’s checkout back in Wexford mentioned too.

The first turn off that we took was for Lake Caragh. Lakes are usually good for photo’s even on less pleasant days, so we dutifully followed the road and even caught glimpse’s of the lake through peoples gardens who must have had a stunning view of it. On we drove, looking for a view point as the road became narrower and narrower until it became apparent that we were moving away from the lake and off in a different direction entirely!

Unperturbed, we retraced our steps pausing at the gates of aforementioned residences and snapped away. We even saw evidence that a competitor in the Tour De France had clearly got lost on the way from Yorkshire….

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Next up was the beach at Rossbeigh, pretty enough but of course sunshine would have helped:

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We paused at a couple of places along the road then took the turn off for Kells Beach – an narrow, winding and seemingly never ending single track road and to be honest I wished we hadn’t have bothered with this one:

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The Ring of Kerry route continues south after Cahersiveen or you can carry on for the ferry to Knightstown on Valentia Island which is what we did. Again you get a hint of the beauty even under all that mist and cloud:

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Once on the island we headed along the north coast and came across this graveyard with what looked like the remains of a church. Pausing here for snaps also gave us a glimpse out in to the bay, again through some lucky buggers garden:

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Further on was the Valentia lighthouse, again down an increasingly narrow single track road but by now the conditions had worsened again. As you came closer the angle of the road meant that the lighthouse became more and more obscured and by the time you got to the entrance you couldn’t see it at all – unless you handed over 5 euros and went in. We didn’t.

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A bridge at the south-eastern tip of the island brings you back to the mainland, where you join the Skellig Ring. As we climbed out of Portmagee conditions got even worse, with visibility down to just a few metres, but started to improve again as we approached and eventually arrived at the beach at Ballinskelligs:

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We stopped briefly at Waterville, mainly thanks to my bladder. There is a statue of Charlie Chaplin here which was being well photographed. I decided not to join the queue and we set off again, getting ahead of all the coaches that had pulled in lunch – or food anyway.

The skies were clearing a little as we continued around the southern portion of the Ring and there were more opportunities for lens clicking before we stopped again to stretch our legs, this time at O’Carrols Cove.

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To the right was what looked like – at first glance anyway – a lovely caravan site almost on the beach. However, there was no sign or any sort of reception, just a barrier with a keypad. The vans were quite tightly packed together and a large number were big twin axle Hobby’s. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!

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Further on we refuelled with coffee and cheesecake (for me) and apple pie for Trev at a pleasant little cafe called Gossip in Sneem. It had at least now stopped raining and more lens clicking opportunities presented themselves:

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We were firmly on the last corner now. The pretty looking town of Kenmare would have to get a look in another day. The road bears north’ish and away from the coast, passes through Moll’s Gap (bless her) then soon happens upon the first of the Killarney Lakes:

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We passed the Torc Waterfall but agreed to leave that for another day. We’d been on the road  – on and off anyway – for eight hours and grog and grub were rising rapidly to the top of the agenda. Rosie had clocked up another 140 miles and proved herself to be increasingly comfortable. I’m finally starting to warm to her.

I’m often suspicious of ‘must -do’ tourist things when travelling. Often they are thinly veiled attempts to extract the maximum amount of money from the naive tourist for the minimum of effort. Every brochure or leaflet you read about this corner of Ireland talks about the Ring of Kerry, but in our experience, even on a wet day it is a genuine must do and need not cost you the earth either. Most parking spots are free on route and if you are organised you’ll take a packed lunch – but check the weather before you go!

Look out for part 5 coming soon, with yet more photo’s and mercifully little text to wade through!

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