Blogging at 22:15 on Saturday 19th August from intended overnighting spot N 51.58637°, W 09.66568° / http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:51.58637%2C-09.66568
Our reservations regarding last night's camp were well founded. About an hour after we'd gone to bed a car came into the car park with its engine literally screaming. The driver parked up directly behind the German motorhome and for about five minutes shone the car's headlights directly at the motorcaravan whilst gunning the engine. The (presumably German) occupants stayed put, but it must have been a rattling experience.
Later, things got even worse: though this was hardly down to a random Johny No Name. A violent storm made landfall. It had been predicted and we knew about it but, WOW, it was way more fearsome than we'd anticipated. Even though we were very well sheltered deep in dense mixed woodland the winds still rocked the truck and it wasn't long before twigs, cones and other bits of tree were raining down on us. This wasn't in itself a massive problem, but a big branch or entire tree hitting us most certainly would have been. We pondered for a short while and then took the decision to bale and return to a much more open area that we'd seen yesterday evening. We'd initially given it a miss as the space is a formal picnic site and the truck selfishly filled the entire resource. The decision to move was a winner, though, as once we'd got settled we knew the truck could stand any amount of wind and rain and we were confident in the assumption that few people would want to turn up at 2.00am to picnic in 60+ mph winds and hideous driving rain.
Come morning the winds had dropped and though there was a bit of local flooding the parkrun was still on! Once again it was a very welcoming affair and, because we already knew the course was quite convoluted, we listened to the briefing with due diligence. The race director explained the course hazards and stressed that the worst of them was to be found on the one-and-only river footbridge on the course, which would be very slippery following the floods.
By the time we'd crossed the third river footbridge I concluded he had meant the one-and-only river footbridge apart from the other two. None of them were slippery, by the way.
The race itself was really hard but also really enjoyable. It was a single up-and-down twisting loop through some of the finest deciduous semi-natural woodland in the country. The mosses, lichens and other lower plants lent a real cloud forest feel.
We both did OK and post event we started to head for Schull, the port where we were to catch our boat excursion to Cape Clear island and Fastnet Rock tomorrow.
Whilst on the way, Emma took a phone call from the excursion provider essentially informing us that the trip was off. They offered a few alternatives but they were all either things we didn't want to do or couldn't stay in Ireland long enough to do.
Suddenly without direction or purpose, and largely because of sheer happenchance of location, we changed course from Schull and pointed the truck to the Sheep's Head peninsula, instead.
It's worth a visit. It hides somewhat between larger and more obvious siblings and immediately felt much less frenetic and touristy than most other jutty-out bits of the south west. It's not that it's without its tourists, more that there are fewer of them and not as many honeypots. The peninsula is reportedly celebrated for its walking trails and relative solitude and both are evident.
In our brief time wandering around by truck and on foot we saw a good range of birds including peregrine, chough, fulmars, shearwaters, and guillemots, as well as the more expected species.
The spot we've chosen to overnight provides a good perch to sea-watch and it's proved absorbing. One rather unpleasant siting was of a flock of about 50 larger gulls concentrated one one tiny bit of sea about about a kilometre offshore. Through the scope it could be seen that they'd found a (hopefully already) dead floating porpoise and were doing what big gulls quite naturally do when they're not behaviourally adapting to swiping chips, ice-cream, or scavenging human waste from landfills.
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