Sunday 3 May 2015

Driving around Achill Island on the Wild Atlantic Way.

With my Greenway walk cut short on Friday due to the weather I took a quick driving tour to the western end of the island half thinking I might hike up to the cliffs to the north of Keem Beach. In the end it didn’t look like a great idea so I just took some pictures instead.

The view out to see at Keel Strand and then later on from Keem Beach.

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I was looking at the currachs and thinking about an old RTE documentary about the basking shark fishing that used to take place here back in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

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Then I turned around and noticed a guy taking pictures of the sea. And there they were, two basking sharks cruising slowly from the eastern side to the beach to the west. These are at full zoom and they were a fair distance out but I’m pretty sure the one on the left was about 5m long. Talking to some people later I discovered that they were seen for the first time in two years here a couple of weeks back. Very happy to have seen them.

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The light was quite odd at this point and the shot of the corrie on the side of Slievemore just about captures it. Eerie. On the way back to the B&B I found a pretty impressive mural on the wall of a handball alley near Cashel on the eastern end of the island.

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Saturday was a mess as far as weather is concerned so I decided to loop around the coast road of the island, following the Wild Atlantic Way route. More or less.

I love the signage/branding for the Wild Atlantic Way – the wave icon reflecting WAW is perfect. Audrey and I did a tour in 2003 or 2004 if I recall correctly where we covered something like 2000km of the North and West coast roads over two weeks in late September. It was an amazing trip to do then and it would be even better now so it’s great to see it being pushed as a world class driving route, it deserves it.

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The wind was extreme on Saturday when I started out, as you can sort of see in the first picture. That flag was whipping and snapping like a mad yoke. Granuaile’s Tower at Kildavnet didn’t seem to care too much, I’m sure it’s seen a lot worse, but the rain and wind was pretty awful at this point.

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As I headed off around the coast road the weather seemed to let up a bit but it was very grey.

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It’s amazingly scenic though, even when the weather is awful

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In a fit of lunacy I decided to drive up to the top of Minaun where there is a car park and a huge TV mast. In good weather there’s also a fantastic panoramic view. In this weather visibility was down to about 10m. I could practically reach out and touch that TV mast and I couldn’t see it. At a guess I think the wind was pushing force 11 up here, the car was rocking and there was a constant high pitched whine from the wind whistling over the stones and through the chain link fence.

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The views were stunning when I came back down below the loud level though. And I have to admit I was slightly relieved that I was able to leave the insane winds behind at the summit.

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I then followed the loop anti-clockwise around the north of the island. Stopping to snap the boats on Bullsmouth pier and Slievemore from Dugort.

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The car deserves to be included in at least one shot now that it has been nicely repaired by the nice people in Ford.

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One final shot of Slievemore shrouded in cloud from the cemetery near the Deserted Village.

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On the way back east I spent an hour trying to find Rockfleet and failed because I had no data connection and my offline maps were useless. I did end up stopping at Burrishoole Abbey before I gave up on finding Rockfleet and that was worth stopping for.

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