Blogging at 22:00 on Sunday 20th August from intended overnighting spot N 52.04725°, W 08.76855° / http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:52.04725%2C-08.76855
The first hour this morning was spent sea watching again. There was nothing new to report but it's amazing how absorbing just scanning seascapes with bins and scope is. Watching the acrobatics of such birds as fulmars and gannets doing their thing is, quite simply, a privilege.
After quitting the camp we drove the northern side of the Sheep's Head peninsula and though the roads were a bit narrow and sometimes a little precarious (for the truck) it threw up some splendid vistas. It was good to see Bere Island again, the location of our favourite parkrun ever, and arguably one of the best parkruns on the entire planet.
The mornings drive took us to a place that had been recommended to us by one of the very many raconteurs we've met during this trip: St Finbarr's Oratory at Gougane Barra.
Not only is the Oratory itself world-famously chocolate-box picture perfect (pic) but the surrounding landscapes are stunning. They feature steeply sided valleys and a series of high ridges, most of which are accessible on foot. Throw in crashing peaty streams and some pleasant woodland walks and the place really does have a lot to offer.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it's a victim of it's own success and is the very epitome of a view, brew and loo honeypot.
As there was a lot to see and it was obvious that visitors were arriving en masse we decided to do a sort of run / sightseeing hybrid. It worked well, we covered about 4 miles and got to some of the more remote and untrammelled areas before the tourist-day was in full swing. An added bonus was that the tired Springer Spaniel version of Emma would now be accompanying me for the remainder of the day's drive.
The site is well worth a visit but early on a weekday or a fine day in the off season would be the best time to be there.
From Gougane Barra we basically just covered a bit of ground as we have to be in Dublin soon for the ferry back. We purposefully stuck to smaller roads so we could better take in surroundings and eventually decided to call it a day at the coordinates shown. The area is very quiet, heavily forested and also sports a significant wind farm. There have been a few typical coniferous plantation species about such as coal tits, but we've also been treated to a few aerobatics from a couple of ravens.
Just a random ramble: as we've driven around we've seen that it's (sometimes) convention to paint warnings of approaching hazards on the road with the first word closest to the driver and the last furthest away up the road. This might seem logical to some but undoing decades of socialisation and reading English bottom to top has proven surprisingly brain-scrambling. A couple of random warnings from yesterday - no matter how hard I tried - read:
Ahead School Down Slow
Stop To Prepare
The latter in particular we found deeply philosophical.
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