Thursday 30th July 2015 and we have safely arrived at Day 4 of the #WAWIn1Week Challenge, and at this stage of the game I am really enjoying myself. The niggles I had over too much traffic and what can only be described as piss poor driving are still there but only so very slightly. I am much more in tune with it, I know what to expect and to ‘get out and round’ as soon as possible and when ‘they’ are holding me up, to just relax and take in the breathtaking scenery. All is good as we commence Day 4 and I am now finding it all going a little too quickly, when you look at the map this journey is not too far away from being completed and that’s actually a little sad. So best get enjoying it!
Today the journey takes me from Clifton, Co. Galway to Sligo, Co. Sligo. My panning stages have me to be believing this section of the route to be about 250 miles but if I have learnt one big thing from planning this trip is that I have always under estimated. Normally by a good amount, Day 4 was actually closer to 300 miles, it was a long day and that was the greatest downfall of the day.
This is also the Day that instead of booking into a B&B I got a cracking deal on a hotel and stayed at the Yeats Country Hotel at Rosses Point, Sligo. This is where the long day fell foul, this hotel is lovely and I would have loved to have factored in an earlier finish so I could have relaxed and enjoyed their facilities. The bar looked great, there was a brilliant fitness centre and the restaurant as I was arriving was closing but the place smelled great!
I ended up with a curry chip from the only take-away in the town, a Chinese that was getting ready to close as well. As I say that is the only disappointment and it was self made, I didn’t get enough time to enjoy this brilliant spot!
Although from the route above it looks like there are four signature points shown on this section there are again 3, the one closest to the bottom is just before Clifden and it was done the previous day (Derrigimlagh).
- Killary Harbour.
- Keem Bay.
- Downpatrick Head.
Killary Harbour :
Located in the heart of Connemara, Killary Harbour (‘An Caoláire Rua’ in Irish) is a fjord that forms a natural border between counties Galway and Mayo. Here, you will find some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland. From the northern shore of the harbour rises Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht at 814m. To the south you can see the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens. There are two small communities in the vicinity: Rosroe on the southern side and Leenane to the east. In the former, you’ll find a hostel that was once a residence where philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein stayed for some time after WWII, using it as a quiet place to write. Nearby you can also explore the so-called Green Road, a route that travels eastward along the side of the fjord toward Leenane. This road stretches for 9km and was built in the 19th century as a famine relief project. Additionally, this area is known for aquaculture, with a salmon farm operating at Rosroe and mussel rafts commonly spotted to the east.
Keem Bay :
Keem Bay is a sheltered rural beach surrounded by cliffs on Achill, Ireland’s largest island. Located at the head of a valley between the cliffs of Benmore and Croaghaun Mountain, to reach this idyllic spot just follow the Atlantic Drive to Keel and continue westward via a cliff-top road with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach, which is lifeguarded during the bathing season, is very popular with swimmers and is the site of a Blueway snorkel trail. If you’re feeling inspired there are several activity providers in the area that offer equipment hire and tuition. In the past, this area was a key location for the Achill Basking Shark Fishery, which operated in the 1950s and 60s. During that period, spotters were stationed at Moyteoge Head, which borders the beach, to identify the sharks and direct hunting boats to them. The sharks were targeted for oil which was used as a lubricant in the aerospace industry.
Downpatrick Head :
Downpatrick Head is a majestic heritage site found about 5km north of Ballycastle village. Jutting out into the ocean and rising almost 40m above the waves, it provides unparalleled views of the Atlantic, including the unique collection of islands known as the Staggs of Broadhaven. You can also spot the nearby Dún Briste sea stack, with its different coloured layers of rock and nesting sea birds. In addition to the natural scenery and wildlife, Downpatrick Head is home to the ruins of a church, holy well and stone cross, which together mark the site of an earlier church founded by St Patrick. Ireland’s patron saint is also honoured with a statue that was built in the early 1980s. Given its religious associations, Downpatrick Head was once a popular destination for pilgrims, who came here each year on the last Sunday of July, known as ‘Garland Sunday’. Today that tradition lives on, and mass is still celebrated at Downpatrick Head on that same day.
Downpatrick Head is another spot along the route that is clearly having a lot of money invested in it, there is the starting of a visitor centre coming along nicely. It also has some great significance around WWII, there is a lookout point which guards the Irish Coastline and a huge EIRE 64 made in stones designed to be visible from the air so that aircraft flying over head knew that they were now over the neutral Republic of Ireland, rather than the UK or some other Allied / Axis land.
Oh and be careful the rocks are dangerous.
One this section of the route I found County Mayo is slightly plain and green, compared to some of the more rugged landscapes I encountered, however there is still plenty to see and keep an eye out for!
Take this sign for example telling you Paddy Coynes Bar is on the right…Really is it? Brilliant!
It looks like some wishes have been made at this tree!
If you find yourself on this road, you’re wrong!
Yep this road is as good as it looks!
The Coast is spectacular throughout…
Healy’s has this town sewn up, fuel and funerals, life’s two absolute certainties!
Cliffs are dangerous, but beautiful…
The first line of defence for the Irish Coast…
EIRE 64 :
The Accommodation : Yeats Country Hotel
As I have mentioned already this hotel massively impressed me, it was my first deviation from a B&B and from walking in through the doors I was well greeted and, quickly checked in and the room itself was really comfortable and well kitted out. A good TV, great bathroom and good WiFi, streaming my wind down session of Sky TV was no problem at all. The only regret I have on this leg is that I didn’t arrive here sooner to relax and enjoy the facilities. A really nice spot.
So tomorrow this is the ground I will need to cover…