We knew we wanted to go to a remote, coastal location in the South of Ireland but we didn’t have a clue where so it was all a bit of guess work. Someone had suggested going to see the Skellig Islands so after a quick google search we found a lovely looking B&B in the Ring of Kerry. It turned out to be a great bit of guesswork because the location was perfect, although we never made it to the Skellig Islands, the boats do not go out in the winter because it’s too dangerous.
Our accommodation was about a three hour drive from Cork airport. Our host, Amelia, had given us coordinates because the B&B was in-between two towns, on an unnamed road, with no postcode. We loved the remote location, it gave us a sense of adventure!
We stayed at Picín cottage, a wonderful 200-year-old stone cottage (www.picincottage.com). It has one double bedroom with its own garden and the most fabulous bathroom with a cast-iron bath and a lovely, old wood-burner. Breakfast includes homemade bread, granola and fresh fruit. A full Irish breakfast and local smoked salmon are also available. Amelia is the perfect host, always on hand and full of helpful information. She made us feel very welcome.
We arrived quite late in the day so our first question was ‘Where is the nearest pub?’. It turns out the local pub is about a 50 minute walk from where we were staying, it was too dark to walk so Amelia arranged a taxi for us. It was the only taxi in the area who also picks up other locals on their way to the pub so we had a car full by the time we arrived at The Blind Piper in Caherdaniel (ww.blindpiperpub.com).
The Blind Piper is a proper Irish pub steeped in tradition, it did not disappoint. It was a cold night so we sat around the open fire slowly getting merry with the locals. We made a few friends that night, Jeremiah was our favourite!
The next day we set off along the Wild Atlantic Way (www.wildatlanticway.com), the name alone is enough to excite! First stop, beach trekking along Derrynane Bay with Eagle Rock, one of Ireland’s best known and oldest equestrian centres (www.eaglerockcentre.com). I must admit, I am a nervous horse rider but my boyfriend loves it so the chance to go trekking along the beach in the stunning surroundings of Derrynane National Historic Park could not be missed. Our instructor, Caroline, was brilliant – she gave us the right horses to suit our levels (scaredy cat beginner and confident basic).
After taking in the views by horse we jumped in the car and continued north along the coast. The Wild Atlantic Way offers some of the most breath taking views I have ever seen – we explored St Finian’s Bay, the Skellig Ring and Valentia Island before eventually stopping in Portmagee. Portmagee is a small fishing village on the south western tip of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. There is a great view of the Skellig Islands from Portmagee, it was a shame we couldn’t get a boat over to see them. The Skellig Islands are two small islands lying about 13 km out to sea, famous for their gannet and puffin populations, and a sixth-century Christian monastery that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On our third and final day we took the magnificent, scenic route through the Killarney National Park to Cork airport. The inland drive is a completely different experience to the Wild Atlantic Way, we drove through snow topped mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls. The sun shone brilliantly at the summit of Molls gap and then descending into Killarney we discovered Ladies View, a view point where the lakes of Killarney can be seen. We looked down on a thick layer of fog that floated over the town below. Descending further we were immersed in the thick fog, it was both magical and eery at the same time.
By the time we came out of the fog we were about an hour away from the airport, our trip was almost over, it was short and sweet. I can honestly say the West coast of Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, it was three days full of scenic beauty and unforgettable experiences. I plan to come back and explore the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way one day, picking up where we left off, there is only another 2350km to go!