Days 68 to 70 April 23 to April 25th 2017
Sad though we were to leave Loughrea and our lovely new family there, as we waited for the Galway bus for the final time we agreed it felt good to be on the move again. Much excitement as we headed for the Aran Islands.
Our specific destination Inishmore the largest of the islands via bus and boat. On previous trips to Galway we had scouted out the bus transfer depot and got our tickets. Accommodation was decided when we found a perfect us title – “glamping”. How romantic it sounded ”Ireland Glamping, In the Center of the Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s famous Western Seaboard“ and yes it was!
The bus trip to Ros a Mhil (the ferry landing) was a picturesque 45 minute trip along the coast – through the seaside Salthill resort buzzing with people and activity on a rare sunny day. On through other small villages of old stone houses. The ferry trip was again on a sunny blue sky day with a calm sea.
Checking into our ‘glamp’ was accompanied by the feeling we could stay for so much longer. Out little cabin was right on the waterfront with views to Galway and the mountains around us. Inside was a light filled large room with a bed built in at the back, a small bathroom and a little kitchenette. The lovely Patricia who checked us in suggested we could move the table outside to enjoy the evening with a wine – great idea and pleased we did it on night one as night two was somewhat stormier.
Despite wanting to settle in and do nothing we headed back to see if we could a) get bikes for the couple of days and b) get a bike that fitted me (small). We accomplished both and had a whole lot of fun doing it. Dangerous Dave at Aran Bike Hire organised bikes with much fun-poking at Australians and our Strine turn of phrase.
After a quick test ride back to camp the next small challenge was dinner – we had all the makings but the cabin had only microwave. Success – close by the cabin was the camp kitchen – well stocked and very attractive – being fairly new and filled with wooden benches and tables. As the only guests we had the large kitchen to ourselves for the evening.
Fortunately our full day on Inishmore was great biking weather so we forced ourselves to leap out of our comfy “Glamping” bed, eat our porridge, make our delicious lunch with delicious treats from McCambridges in Galway (the significance of this later) and off.
For the early part of our ride we ambled slowly along the low coast road stopping often for photo opps involving endless mileage of stone walls; and for scenery gaping out over the greenest fields, dotted with old but well restored homes and cottages.It required a restriction on photos. Horses and cattle were photogenically everywhere – including in people’s yards. Extra curricular tourist spots included a seal colony down on the coastline.
The little limewashed white cottages often trimmed with red were gorgeous. My favourite house was a rough stone cottage of multi-coloured stone walls, grown over with vines, and a thatched roof sitting forlornly overlooking the coast.
After about 30minutes cycling we came to a perfectly shaped bay with shining white sand. Beyond this a small village – well set up for visiting tourists – where we turned off to ride the short distance to Dún Aonghasa a prehistoric stone fort built on a towering cliff face.
Returning from the fort we decided lunch was in order. As we returned to our bikes I realised the lunch I had left in a brown paper bag in my bike basket was no longer there. A little shocked I picked up what remained – my collapsible water bottle only to discover it was behaving like a watering-can with holes everywhere. I looked around and realised it was birds not humans who had eaten my delicious simple lunch and pecked holes in my water bottle! Oh all that delicious McCambridge ham and treats gone to the birds!
Realised we had not completed the map of sites to see and needed to ride on. On we went to a site described in Irish as Na Seacht dTeampaill or the Seven Churches. Many grave stones – old and more recent – filled the grounds around the ruins, The oldest were Roman grave markers hidden away in the furtherest corner. In a quiet corner on a slab near one of the church ruins we sat and shared the remaining lunch Chris had before beginning our return loop.
Cycling back the high road passing younger than us pushing and puffing up the hills and roaring past us on the straight obviously having not heard of the hare and the tortoise! Eventually wefound the signpost for Dun Eochla announcing a 1km walk to the fort. Up the hill along the wide track we went. No fort. Eventually we gave up and walked back. As we passed a mound Chris looked over the fence and laughed – there before us early on path we had walked up was a large round circle of stones. A fort thought to be first constructed in the Iron Age. Possibly 5th Century.
Off we trekked, Chris disappeared into the structure while I with my shorter legs tried to find a way in. Inside was quite an experience – a circular wall of stones surrounding you, quiet all around, on a hill with visibility all around, Suddenly I realised I could not see or hear Chris. The thick, high stone walls prevented sight out or in and a loud “Coooooeeeee” did nothing. Finding an exit was another small challenge, once completed I headed down the hill to find Chris coming back up. A bit of tooing and froing over who left who and who lost who till we returned to our bikes and back into town we went.
Arrived back home deciding an antipasto-like dinner was preferable to going out again. Tired, sore and happy we decided we would visit the final fort the Black fort in the morning before leaving on the midday ferry.
Our final night was interrupted by strong winds and rain though we were very snug in our pod. The morning saw more wind, threatening grey-black skies and locals suggesting heavy rain was afoot. Our legs were tired and it took little to decide we would forgo the fort. Packing, lying in, a short bike ride and a little more fun with Dangerous Dave as we returned bikes then on the ferry and reluctantly back to Galway.
Inishmore we hope we come again.