Up and breakfasted while watching blue tits and great tits feeding just outside the window, and packed and out of the house at 1100 again.
We're planning a route that will take us through a bit of Northern Ireland today and headed out towards Enniskillen. We soon crossed the border which was mostly noticeable from a sign
advising that the speed limits were now in mph. We went through Enniskillen and looked for the roads that followed the shores of the big Lower Lough Erne. Very nice and mostly deserted
roads again. Driving here is just great. The roads got quite high and the views down to the lough, with mountains behind, were terrific.
Went over the top of the lough, including a drive over Boa Island, and crossed the border back into the Republic of Ireland. Drove to the coast, through Bundoran, and out to Mullaghmore
hoping to find a cuppa. Found a nice bar overlooking Mullaghmore harbour and with some spectacular moutains behind. Had a nice drink and talked about the great photos we'd take when
we got back outside. As we finished up a big cloud drifted over the mountains and hid half of them - so that was that for the great photos. Had a quick walk on the harbour wall and
turned back when it started raining (again - not so nice today - showery and windy).
Went off in search of the Gleniff Horseshoe, a very scenic drive I'd read about. Found it surprisingly quickly - we were already right on top it with no planning at all. It's a route
of 3 miles or so around a valley surrounded by very steep mountains, Quite spectacular. The mountains look quite imposing, seeming to loom out over the road. We slowly ambled back to
the main road, continuing to admire the mountains from different angles as we went. Now about 5pm and we discovered that we had 90 miles to go to the next house, so set off.
Hit a little bit of traffic in a few places but not very much, and the roads were great again. Saw quite a lot of the coast as we were driving on the "Wild Atantic Way" route, and
drove through some nice towns. Westport was a particularly nice looking market town. Mum remembered that we needed some E2 coins for the electricity at this house so we did a quick
shop and got some.
Found the house with no problems - arriving a bit after 7pm. I thought this looked the best house we booked, and it's everything I'd hoped for. A very nice looking detached bungalow,
loads of space, great facilities, and fantastic sea / mountain views in all directions - and we've got all this for 3 nights ! It's quite exposed and it was blowing a gale as we
unloaded the car.
As soon as we got in and I looked out the front windows at the view along the beach with the waves crashing in, I just had to get down there - right now! I left M&D to sort themselves
out and settle in and dashed down to the beach to catch the remaining daylight. It was blowing like crazy down there. About 300m down a track and I was on the beach. Rocky bits to
the right (north) and big pebbles and sand to the left (south). I climbed around the rocks while the light was good, watching the waves crashing in, and then battled against the wind
and stumbled over the pebbles for about a half a mile south. It was bloody lovely out there - so wild and desolate. Watched the sanderlings darting about for a while and turned back.
By this time the tide had gone out far enough that I could walk back on the sand so, with the wind now behind me as well, the walk back was a gentle stroll in comparison. It was just
about dark when I got back.
We quickly got on with dinner and cooked up another great feast. A quiet hour with the TV and M&D went off to bed. Well, quiet expect for very strong winds howling down the chimney. I
sat up and caught up the diary - the words at least - still got photos to sort out. Now caught up and it's 2am, and the wind is howling just as much, and it's absolutely hammering down
with rain. I wish I could see outside - it's probably wild out there.
And another great day. Great sights again. Great roads again. No problems again, and I absolutely love this house, beach and general area. The weather wasn't as good. Cloudy all day and
showery and windy as the day wore on. Looks like tomorrow will be a very wet day. Maybe it's time for a quieter, more restful day to recharge the batteries a bit.
186 miles today: 843 miles total
Wednesday 20th September 2017
Dad hadn't slept well and was feeling a bit groggy so we had a slow and relaxed breakfast and sat around a while looking at maps and staring out the windows at the tremendous views.
The weather was looking surprisingly good. Very cloudy but mostly dry and the wind has dropped right off. At about midday we set off for a walk on the beach. The tide was out so we could
get down onto the sand for easy walking. Had a very nice stroll - got wet feet as the sand still had shallow water on most of it. Watched the sanderlings skitting about - they're really
funny to watch as they scurry around at great speed with their little legs a blur. Mum and I scrambled around on the pebbles on the way back looking for nice stones - all different
kinds of stone in there. Wandered back to the house a bit after 1300 all feeling better for the fresh air and exercise, and had some lunch.
Decided to go out for a while, and thought we'd probably eat out tonight. Headed out about 1430, aiming for Achill Island, specifically Achill Head. Mum remembered The Tavern being
recommended in the Guest Book at the house and we found it after about 10 miles. Went in to check what time they stop serving food, etc. 9pm. Carried on through Westport, Newport,
Mulranny, and onto Achill Island. Didn't see much of the many (dozens, maybe 100's?) little islands in Clew Bay on the way round, so planned to get nearer the coast on the way back.
Great views of mountains and cliffs and sea and islands as we drove across the island. Stopped at a pub for tea / 1/2 pint at Achill Sound.
Carried on and the views just got better. Finally up and over a mountain with great views of the sea and down to little Keem Bay, which was the end of the road. Had a little walk around
and read the notices about historical (to 1960's) local industry of fishing for basking sharks - with curraghs and harpoons. Lovely little cove that looked perfect for some adventurous
kayaking. Turned back and started back up the mountain stopping for a few photos on the way. On one stop I saw something in the sea - something big. Decided it had to be a basking shark
- we watched it for ages but never saw much more than it's ragged dorsal fin - still pretty exciting though - we couldn't take our eyes off it.
Got going a bit to make some progress back towards The Tavern. Great views again all around as we drove back across Achill Island. On the road back to Newport we took a couple of right
turns down very narrow twisty roads and found some great views of the sea and islands as the sun started to get low in the sky.
Through Newport and Westport, a couple of sunset/mountain photos, and we got to The Tavern a bit after 8pm. Had a very nice meal, with starters, for a slightly pricy E103. The pub
soon got very quiet and we were virtually the last to leave about 2215. Easy journey back to the cosy house. The sky is amazingly clear and, with little light pollution, there are many,
many stars. Still very little wind as well, so it's looking pretty good for tomorrow.
Yet another great day. A sluggish start but it feels like we've had a full day and seen lots of great things, and at the same time it has felt unrushed and quite relaxing - and the
weather's been hugely better than expected.
124 miles today: 967 miles total
Thursday 21st September 2017
Had a fairly slow start again - recharging the batteries - and this is supposed to be a holiday! Weather is looking great again - very sunny and not too breezy. We can see
showers around, especially in the mountains - and frequent rainbows too.
Heading south today, just following the coast down towards Galway. Set out about midday and first went for a quick look at Roonah Pier just around corner from us, where the ferries for
Clare Island and Inisturk Island operate. A nice little bay and harbour with the predictable great views.
Set off south - great views towards the coast and islands on the right, and mountains to the left and in front. Took a few dead end right turns down to the coast to see the lovely
beaches. Got a bit lost on the wrong road at one point, and lost a fair bit of time, but it was all great to see anyway, so it didn't matter. Got flagged down by a local.
I thought he was offering directions but he was just looking for a lift. We declined and moved on.
We got onto the right road and soon found ourselves in the mountains. More great views and great roads, etc. Got to Aasleagh and stopped in a nice pub for tea. Headed west through Leenane
and then took some smaller roads to follow the coastline. Even more great views across sea and islands - the sea is so blue today in the bright sun. Out to Rinvyle Point and around the
head and back in to the main road at Letterfrack. From Moyard we headed back out towards the coast - Cleggan - a fantastically lovely place with lots of loughs and a couple of little
harbour-bays, and island and sea views. Another kayak paradise. Then around the head and back to the main road again. Saw a sign for The Sky Road Loop - knew nothing about it but it
looked like it might be interesting so we went for it. Fantastic views across the sea and islands again - a great lucky find. This diary is getting a bit repetitive . . .
Did a quick bit of shopping in Clifden - a very nice market town that seemed to be very busy. As it was after 6pm we decided to head back home. Took the main road east to Straith Salach
and turned off north through the mountains to home. Lovely roads all way except these are quite bumpy so it's not a smooth ride. Got back to Louisburgh around 1930 and went to have
another quick look at Roonah Pier on the way home - watching out for the rain that we could see approaching fast. I'd read that it's a good place to spot dolphins in the evening so
wanted to have a quick look. The wind was much stronger and the sea was choppier than I'd anticipated so it didn't look promising, and we saw nothing, and the rain caught up with
us before we got back to the car. We didn't get too wet and then it hammered down while we drove the mile to the house, and stopped again by the time we got there.
Made dinner in tonight and talked about plans for the next few days. Then I checked the weather and it looks like tomorrow is very good. The following day (Saturday) looks terrible
(rain, rain, rain and 40mph+ winds) and we were planning to visit "The Burren" and "The Cliffs of Moher" - both very exposed. Looks like a change of plans - we'll drive a bit further
and do those tomorrow.
Another great day. We had mostly blue skies which showed all the great sights at their best. Quite a few heavy showers too (especially in the mountains) but we're mostly in the car so
it's no bother - and lots of rainbows. The views were outstanding. Strong winds and hard rain outside now - about midnight. We'll be sorry to leave this lovely house / area tomorrow.