Wanderung 24

Spring Fling

From March to May 2011

Tuesday April 26th: Connemara Mountains, Ireland


This was the day we visited the Connemara National Park that was just back down the road from our B&B. Entrance to the park, like all Ireland's National Parks, was free and the Visitor's Center had some intriguing exhibits as well as some nice maps and souvenirs for sale. One exhibit explained the history of the area with special emphasis on the peat bogs so common in some parts of Ireland. The maps on sale included an overall aerial view of the entire country, which we purchased, as well as more detailed regional maps. I also broke down and purchased one of the wood-shafted pens with "Connemara National Park" engraved into it.


This was the day to get serious about some walking. After breakfast, we drove to the Connemara National Park Visitor Center. At our B&B we had seen a map of the walks available at the park. There was the short walk, 1.5 km, the medium walk 3 km, and the long walk 7 km. The last one was the one that went up to the peak of Diamond Hill, at a height of 1500 feet. We looked at the map, and I said, "Seven kilometers, that's easy!". Then we got to the park and I looked up at the peak and I said, "Oh my!"




Stowing all that in the car, we attempted to walk a 7 or 8 kilometer trail up to the summit of Diamond Hill, but it ultimately defeated us. The first 500 feet up were easy and we had tremendous views westward over the Atlantic Ocean as we ascended the west side of the hill, but during the second section of the climb the trail turned into a never-ending staircase of stone steps that gradually turned our legs into rubber.

By the time we had walked up 1,000 feet or so we were way out of breath and stopped at a small plateau on the shoulder of the "hill". While catching our breath for the Nth time, we watched the intrepid hikers ahead of us zigzagging their way the last 500 feet up a rough rock staircase set carved into the side of the "hill", and we decided we just didn't have enough juice left to get to the top and then walk safely back down the other side. So we turned around and completed the lower loop trail to get back to the Visitor's Center and rejoin Lois, who had in the meantime walked a shorter loop and was calmly having tea in the coffee shop.


But we were fresh and off we went. Lois accompanied us on the first km, which already started to climb but not at too bad a rate. It led to a beautiful viewpoint over the town of Letterfrack and the Renvyle Peninsula, out to the bay. When we said good bye to Lois, the climb started with a very nice set of steps and a very nice trail. This was part of the second loop. After another 1.5 km, the third loop started that went up to the top of mountain. Although we had climbed already for some time, the top still seemed way above us.

But we were still good to go. The next kilometer was mainly steps with a few more level stretches. We rested a while and let more energetic folk pass us, and then kept going up. When we turned a corner, I had hoped to be close to the top, but there was the craggy top probably another 500 feet up. We watched the people ahead of us zig-zagging along the rocky wall and getting smaller and smaller. I looked at Bob and he looked at me, and we decided we had had enough climbing for the day. Next time we come, we will make sure, that we are in better shape, but 19 days on a cruise had not done our conditioning any good. So we very carefully walked back down all the steps we had just climbed up. But we did enjoy terrific views of the surrounding country side. We followed the 3 kilometer trail back down to the visitor center, taking pictures of the mountain we had ALMOST climbed. Back at the Visitor's Center we looked at a great exhibit about the creation of bogs around here and then found Lois at the coffee shop enjoying a cup of tea.


But the shop didn't really have solid lunch fare, so we hopped back into the car and drove down the cost to Clifden, the largest town in that area, where we hoped to find a decent restaurant, which we did. Monika and I had stuffed baked potatoes while Lois had a tuna melt on a huge ciabatta roll.


The luncheon menu at the teashop was not too great, so we decided to drive on to the little town of Clifden at the western edge of the Connemara mountain area. The town was a cute little town with plenty of atmosphere and a coffee shop, where we had a nice lunch,


After buying some groceries we drove out the backside of town to try the "Sky Drive", a rural road that followed the spine of the hills in the center of the peninsula down to the see and then looped back to the downtown area. Along the drive we found a map indicated several bicycle loop tours, and one included the landing place of Alcock and Brown, the first flyers to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1919


From here we decided to do a scenic drive, called the Sky Drive, that went on top of the cliff of a little peninsula sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean. Again we were rewarded with wonderful views. At the top was a parking area for us photographers. They also had a sign showing other loop drives.


Well, I am an aviation enthusiast and wanted to see that historic site, so we drove South from Clifden to start that loop and worked our way back on a spur road through a farmer's sheep pasture to find the actual landing place of that intrepid duo.

The actual landing zone was only 500 feet from the Marconi radio transmitting station that had occupied the site from 1907 until 1922. I can well imagine that as they flew over the coast they saw those mountains looming ahead of them and the radio station with an human operator right below them, and they wisely decided to land while it was safe to do so.

Unfortunately, the flat, unobstructed landing field they chose next to the radio station was in fact a peat bog, so the wheels caught and the plane was damaged as they landed, but at least they were safely down after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and that was a first!


In particular, we found out that the memorial to Alcock and Brown, the first Americans to cross the Atlantic and crash land in a bog in Ireland, and the remains of the Marconi Station, the first wireless station, were not too far. Of course, Bob had to see these.

So off we went, back through Clifden and onto the next scenic road. In this area, no matter where you drive, its scenic! I found the turnoff easily enough with map and GPS and we went onto a one lane road, that ended in a gate. We weren't sure what to do, when we saw a car coming from the other side. Bob backed into a lay-by, while I opened the gate , the other car went through and then Bob went through and I closed the gate and jumped into the car. Shades of James Herriot!

We now were in sheep country. Here the sheep roamed freely, and the road had turned into a gravel road. So Bob took it very, very slowly and we arrived at the memorials with all parts of the car intact and no dead sheep. It was easy to see why Alcock and Brown would try to land here. There was the Marconi station, meaning people were around. The ground looked relatively flat and yonder were mountains. They did not know that the ground was bog!!!


As we continued working our way around bicycle loop number 4, a light and intermittent rain started that discouraged me from taking pictures although the scenery was quite pretty, lush and green pastures on all sides. As we returned to Clifden via the main road we espied a Lidl store and stopped in again for groceries. Monika found Easter candy on sale and I found pretzels although they were called "Salted Sticks" in Ireland. Still, that was the first time I'd found them in Ireland, and I was happy.

Returning to our B&B, we had the scones our landlady had thoughtfully baked for us as well as some rolls and cheese before once again tackling the jigsaw puzzle, but this time on a coffee table in the living room that our landlady said we could keep it on until we were finished. We enjoyed hacking away at that puzzle for several hours until it was time to retire for the evening.


We enjoyed the memorials, the sheep with the little lambs hopping about and the whole pastoral atmosphere. Driving back went as slowly as coming but luckily no other tourist wanted to see the site. I opened and closed the gate and we went on to the road that wound around another larger peninsula. What is so fascinating here is that the change from coast with its rather stony land to bogs to lakes to mountains comes quickly and always unexpectedly.

At the bottom of the peninsula was one of the oldest fishing towns in Ireland and we enjoyed the boats, beach, and coast. We then went back through Clifden past the mountain we ALMOST climbed back to our B&B. Tea, coffee, and scones were waiting for us. Ah, life is good.

In the evening Bob and I started the puzzle again, but put it on the little table in the living room, so we would not have to demolish it again. We did not finish it that evening but had great hopes for the next evening.


Copyright 2011 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt
Prolog Map of Transatlantic Cruise Map of Drive in Ireland Epilog

March 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31
April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
May 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

Return to the Wanderungs Homepage.
Sign the Guestbook or Read the Guestbook.
Comments about this site? Email the Webmaster.
Contact Bob and Monika at bob_monika@hotmail.com.