This is a continuation of our Ireland hike; see Part 1 here.
This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!
Day 3: Adrigole to Castletownbere (9.3mi, 5 hours 33 minutes)
We awoke the next morning, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, and trying to figure out how to proceed. Our clothes were still wet, even our boots (which had sat in a drafty entry way overnight) and our rain shells (which had hung in a shed at the host’s insistence), so we rearranged things in the air-out closet and on a radiator turned up as high as it would go.
We went downstairs to breakfast, which was as underwhelming as dinner had been in terms of food, but made absolutely fascinating eavesdropping. The other couple staying at this B&B had led very interesting lives, and seemed to be catching up with years of happenings. We procured a sack lunch (which absolute paled in comparison to our first hosts’ offering), headed back to our room, packed up our still-damp things, and headed out.
Our host dropped us off where he had picked us up the night before; Peg’s Shop in the village of Adrigole. The large sign describing the Beara Way in the parking lot describes the hike we had done the day before as “a hard walk,” and the prescribed path for today as “a long, hard walk.” This was the last straw for us, as yesterday had been a bit too much; we decided to follow the biking path marked on our map, and avoid climbing Hungry Hill and trudging through another bog.
The official path starts off down the main highway on the south side of the Beara peninsula, which has two lanes and nearly no shoulder. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic, we could stay visible, and our situation didn’t seem all that novel to the drivers; they knew what to do. We stopped to use the toilets and acquire a work of art at a quirky roadside house/studio/gallery. The weather was delightful and warm, and we shed our hoodies as we hiked along.
We stopped for a snack at the place where the hiking trail departs from the road. I scouted up the path a bit, but it confirmed our worst fears – it was steep and sodden and boggy, and we would not have a good time if we went that way. So we stuck to the road, keeping up a good pace and non-stop conversation, and stopped for lunch outside a village church.
By this time we were nearly ⅔ of the way to our destination! Road walking really is faster. We geared up again, but not long afterwards we passed by a sign for Berehaven Lodge, which turned out to be a fairly posh restaurant with a deck overlooking the bay. We said “yes please,” and enjoyed a couple of cocktails, some crab toes, and a lemon posset.
After that it was a short mile or two to our inn for the evening. The Sea Breeze is a lovely, modern place, and our room had an amazing view. We shared a tea tray with some motorcycling Welshmen, did some laundry in the sink, hung clothes out every window, and went into town (another mile) looking for dinner.
After passing through a raucous town center (the Castletownbere Festival of the Sea was happening!), we found ourselves at Ocean Wild, which is a good place to find yourself. Becky discovered deep within herself a great appreciation for artisanal gin, which it turns out is a regional specialty here. We ate brown bread with droolworthy local butter, covered our table with small plates, and enjoyed the fruits (and cheeses) of a long day of hiking. This is much of what we came here looking for.
Our walk back to our room was during the golden hour, so we made sure to capture the town’s best side. It really is a lovely little place, and starting on this day it felt like the center of our trip. Another mile’s hike back to our room, a small show on the refreshingly-fast internet, and sweet, sweet sleep.
Day 4: Bear Island (11.7mi, 6 hours 54 minutes)
Today’s hike is around Bear Island, the landmass visible out the windows of our lovely little room, and we actually end up back here again. Since we get the room all day, we rearrange all of our laundry so it’ll hopefully dry during the day (the night air has done almost nothing to help us out there), have an enormous and delicious full-Irish breakfast, and head into town to catch the island ferry, stopping at the TARDIS-like grocery store for a picnic lunch.
The 11:30 ferry leaves promptly at 11:20, so we’re pretty glad we were early. (Unfortunately our GPS tracker has included the mileage from the ferry ride, so subtract 2 miles for our actual on-foot distance.) 15 minutes later we disembark, and start walking around the north side of the island. Our route today is mostly on the roads, and since we don’t have a far-away endpoint we’ve allowed ourselves lots of leeway on which trails we explore on the island.
We pass an adorable little school, and stop in for a visit to the Bere Island Heritage Centre, which hosts a well-curated and interesting collection of history from the ancient (megalithic tombs and standing stones can be found all over the island) to the military (this harbor featured in many naval engagements) and more recent (a collection of plastic bits found on the beaches, sorted into a rainbow and filling an entire room). As soon as we stepped inside it started pouring outside, but the squall had passed by the time we stepped back outside. We passed a charming pub, and made a mental note to pop in later.
We started feeling hungry, so we found a place to sit down and eat our feast, which included the most Irish of crisp flavors: “shamrock and sour cream” (sadly, “shamrock” just means “chives”). Just after that the clouds moved in, and it started to rain on us. Having flashbacks from our first day, we started to panic, but we also knew that today was only as long as we made it, and that we had a lovely place to stop at the end. We were going to be okay.
We took a spur up a hill to see a stone that had been pushed upright some unknown thousands of years ago, but it was on private land, so we couldn’t get very close. Not long after that, with the rain waxing and waning but not really stopping, we elected not to tour the second half of the island, but instead turn back towards the ferry.
After a few miles, we ran into this friendly dog, who asked for scratches every time we stopped to look at the map, and scouted ahead whenever we were moving. He lovingly and gently guided us back to the pub we had seen earlier, and we obliged him by stopping in for a pint and a snack. Just after we walked in, a sudden rush hit, and the owner was scrambling to call in extra help.
Having finished our pints, we set off to catch the boat. The 4:20 ferry left promptly at 5pm, and on our crossing we saw a 100% authentic Irish rainbow! Pretty sure we hiked where it ended, and we didn’t see any pots of gold, though. We disembarked, walked the mile back to our room, changed into dry clothes, and hiked a mile back into town for dinner.
This time we ended up at Breen’s Lobster Bar, and managed to get the last table, and just after we sat down the rush hit. We were beginning to think people were following us. Once again we covered our table with local delicacies – clam chowder, beef lasagna, calamari, and some great wine. We even took a slice of pie home with us.
The pie was an excellent pairing with some Aziz Ansari. Stuffed silly, we groggily rearranged our still-wet laundry, and went to sleep. We should note that of all the inns we stayed in during this trip, this was the one we would have chosen to spend two nights in.
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