Wi-Fi in a home or office is great when you are close to the access point…but get too far away and oops, no Wi-Fi. Bummer. Relocating your access point isn’t necessarily the answer, as most likely some other place that worked before is going to stop working. What you need my friend is a Range Extender.
D-Link’s new Wireless AC1200 Dual Band Range Extender (DAP-1650)is what we are talking…
It may be named for the sheep, but the people and the trails make this a fabulous destination.
Ireland’s southwest coast is a series of finger-like peninsulas extending into the wild Atlantic Ocean. One of the slimmest is Sheepshead Peninsula – extending from Bantry on the north, past Ballymoor Mountain, to a lighthouse that sits precariously on a cliff at the very southernmost tip. While it’s a beautiful sight, you’ll only be able to see it from land if you take a walk…a long walk.
The Sheep’s Head Way was named the Best Walk in Ireland shortly after it was opened. It’s easy to see why. No matter what your ability level, you’ll find plenty to enjoy along the Sheep’s Head Way. Mountains, flats, sheer cliffs and sea vistas combine to create a walker’s dream. Be sure to take a bottle of water, as you’ll probably want to linger much longer than you expected.
Why Sheep’s Head Way?
Before even leaving for Ireland, David Ross from Top of the Rock introduced me to Siobhan Burke with the Sheep’s Head and Bantry Tourism Co-operative. Learning about the place on their website: Living the Sheep’s Head Way, I knew this was a place I had to add to my itinerary.
Since I was unfamiliar with the area, I met up early one morning in Kilcrohane with James O’Mahony and Tony Cumberpatch to get a sense of what Sheep’s Head Peninsula is all about. James has lived his life on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, was instrumental in founding the walking loop, and is a wealth of information. Tony now leads guided walks and was kind enough to show me the way to the lighthouse.
Turns out, the path is actually better marked than most and rarely will you be walking without being able to see one of the numbered and labeled sign posts as you hike the hills. The whole peninsula loop is 150km and now connects with eastern extensions so you can hike all the way to Drimoleague and Gougane Barra in West Cork. If you include all the additional smaller loops on the peninsula, it adds up to 250km of marked paths to be enjoyed.
Only having time to complete a small part of the overall trail, James drove Tony and I to Tooreen where there is parking and the wonderful Sheep’s Head Cafe for supplies and refreshments. Homemade pies, scones and cakes are not to be missed. You can also pick up your hiking maps here.
We headed out to the lighthouse via the southern route with fleeting sights of Mitzen Head and Dunmanus Bay. We returned on the northern side of the peninsula with a great view of Bear Island and Bantry Bay. Maybe it’s just me, but walking in Ireland seems to be so much easier than anywhere else I’ve traveled. The ground has a soft, almost bouncy feel to it, making a walk in hiking boots feel more like you are wearing slippers.
Don’t get me wrong, we hiked up and over many boulders and stones the size of my car, but when walking on the grass, there was a certain bounce to my step. It’s ideal for long hikes.
Tony said it would be an hour or two out the lighthouse and back, but that turned into more like 3-1/2 hours with stopping to chat and taking pictures along the way. Oh yeah, it was actually the sheeps fault, as we had to wait one time for a whole herd to pass on a single lane path. James was patiently waiting, so it was great not to have to hurry.
The lighthouse itself is nestled into the rocks at the southeastern tip of the land, and is easily accessible with a set of steps from the top of the rocky outcropping. It’s not open for tourists, but you can walk around it and enjoy its bird’s eye view of the Atlantic. Looking straight down at some of the cliffs on the way back, it’s easy to see why it’s called the Wild Atlantic Way.
Arundel’s by the Pier
We finished the morning walk just in time to meet Suzanne Whitty at Arundel’s by the Pier, a local pub in Ahakista that’s been in the family since 1890. Shane Arundel and his wife now run the place and offer a menu large enough to make it difficult to pick just one for lunch. I opted for the local’s favorite – whole baked Breem after a whopping bowl of seafood chowder, and both were phenomenal.
Suzanne is a former American, who’s been living on the Sheep’s Head peninsula for years now, keeping things lively at town meetings and rarely short for words.
With people like James and Suzanne to share a meal with, I realized I had once again not allowed enough time for this destination. There were so many more things I would love to have seen and conversations I would have enjoyed having before I headed off to my next stop, which is the next article – Bantry and Whiddy Island.
Sheep’s Head Way resources:
A Guide to the Sheep’s Head Way – second edition by Tom Whitty
A Map of the Sheep’s Head Way – second edition
Click here for the index of all Wild Atlantic Way articles in this series
Next article in the Wild Atlantic Way series: Bantry and Whiddy Island
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00L7EP9FE” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”thetra03-20”][easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”1500198552” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”thetra03-20”]S.H.W. – Simply Heavenly Walking or Sheep’s Head Way – you choose. #travel #Ireland #WildAtlanticWay It may be named for the sheep, but the people and the trails make this a fabulous destination.
Every few weeks, we scan our slew of press releases and look for great travel opportunities, around Cleveland, around the country and around the world. ToDo Tuesday’s wraps up some of the best reasons we’ve found this week to get off the couch, grab the camera and get outside to have some travel fun. Hopefully we’ll maybe see you at one of these events. If you’re coming, drop us a line.
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With the TomTom GO 600, (or the TomTom GO 500) you’ll have the latest up-to-datest information possible…
Today our Wild Atlantic Way journey takes us slightly afield, about 16km from Bantry to the little town of Drimoleague, where we meet up at the Top of the Rock Pod Pairc and spend the day exploring West Cork with David Ross. This was one of my best days in Ireland and I hope you have the time to read about the entire trip. If not, this is the short version:
- The Pod Pairc is the most unique place to stay in the center of what is Ireland’s best walking area. Pick from 300km of trails nearby. Here’s a short video about Top of the Rock.
- If you have limited time or just want to try an easy walk – the Alpaca Walk is fun, easy to do and has beautiful scenery (including a waterfall.)
- Looking for history and some fine dining – head to Gougane Barra to the sixth century St. Finbarr’s Oratory and then have dinner in the Gougane Barra Hotel.
There’s much more in the complete version, including my big mistake, but bookmark this and come back when you have time or are planning your trip.
The Complete Version
(Page one of two pages)
Drimoleague – where the heck are you?
I’ve been following the Wild Atlantic Way down the west side of Ireland and worked my way to lovely County Cork and into Drimoleague, where I have been invited to visit Top of the Rock – Pod Pairc & Walking Centre.
Drimoleague is 20km from Bantry going due east on R586.
Top of the Rock Pod Pairc
Following the signs north on the well-marked route from town center, I worked my way up the hillside to Top of the Rock, owned by David and Elizabeth Ross. This is a small working farm in an idyllic location with marvelous little cabins (pods), perfect for travelers, walkers and families. The farm is a restoration of his grandfather’s farm who settled here in 1920.Development of the Drimoleague Walkway from wcdpfilms on Vimeo.
David and Elizabeth are the perfect hosts – with hospitality a-plenty and a wonderful knowledge of the West Cork area. Looking for places to walk or visit – just ask. There are walks of all lengths with sights to suit anyone. Hiking books and maps are available to purchase in the guest center as well. David’s separate Top of the Rock Walking Tour’s website has more information available on the walks starting from the Pod Pairc.
The guest center serves as a dining area upstairs as well as a reception area. Downstairs you’ll find a game room with pool table and ping-pong table. There’s a large laundry room as well as men’s and women’s shower facilities. For anyone who wants to prepare their own meals, there’s a large kitchen with gas and electric stoves, refrigerator and freezer.
Top of the Rock is known as the “Walkers’ Junction of West Cork.” Because you can walk in any direction, your biggest decision will be “Which way today?” There are about 300km of dedicated walking trails that anyone can enjoy in West Cork…and lucky for you, I think David knows them all and can give suggestions.
How to choose a walk?
Want to hear about many of the walks available as part of the Drimoleague Heritage Walkways? David Ross narrated a series of ten 15-minute recordings you can download to provide further insight into the wonders of each walk. Click here to give a listen.
David was kind enough to custom design a whirlwind tour for this journalist, who wanted to see everything, but had very little time to actually walk the trails and soak up all the countryside had to offer. You’d do yourself a disservice to do what I did, the paths are incredible and you’ll want to savor every step and discover West Cork’s treasures slowly.
World’s best Panna Cotta
Our first stop was a visit to his brother’s Glenilen Farm where I got to sample some of his dairy products. To say his Panna Cotta was the best I’ve ever had is an understatement. I had the Coconut & Passion Fruit which was out of this world.
Their yogurt is packed in 160g. glass jars with the natural fruit layered at the bottom, and has zero additives or artificial flavors. Don’t leave Drimoleague without picking up some of their products. You can thank me later.
Down to the river, we glimpsed Castle Donovan, one of the many charming scenes on the popular St. Finbarr’s 34km Pilgrim Walk. Walking across the stone Ahanfunsion Bridge (originally built in 1830) we explored the much more current, gently arched, wooden Manager’s Bridge.
Read on for strange furry animals, stones that stand, wild Irish tales and a groovy place for pilgrims.Don’t make my mistake when visiting West Cork, Ireland Today our Wild Atlantic Way journey takes us slightly afield, about 16km from Bantry to the little town of Drimoleague, where we meet up at the…
(Continued from page one of two)
If you landed here without reading page one, please go back to here to start.
What kind of animal is that?
Up another hill we found our way to the most enchanting of all the walks I did in Ireland this year – the Waterfall Farm and its Alpaca Walk. We couldn’t start the walk without first meeting Emma & Markus Bird, owners of this little bit of heaven. They are still developing this as an attraction for individual walkers as well as school groups.
Waterfall Farm has a variety of animals from Flemish Giant and French Lop rabbits to goats to the ungainly but loveable looking alpacas. Cautious but curious, the alpacas will certainly want to look you over.
Starting out at some of Ireland’s remaining standing stones, the one mile trail leads you past the pens of the male and female alpacas, past the donkeys, along some joyous looking Yellow Gorse shrubs, and down to the river. It’s here the real fun starts.
Walking along the stream, there are dozens of mini-rapids where the water spills quickly over rocks and makes the most remarkable and relaxing sounds.
Wending your way through flower patches, under blossom-filled trees and over stone-step bridges, you’ll find your way to a mighty waterfall that feeds this entire area. If you want to linger awhile, you’ll find Ally’s gazebo tucked away nearby.
Can stones really stand?
Some distance away, we visited the Maughanasilly Stone Row which has been taking visitors since 1600BC. If you come here every 18-1/2 years (the length of the full lunar cycle) you’ll discover that the stones are perfectly aligned with the most northerly point of the moon’s rising. Ever wonder how the Bronze Age people got so smart without the Internet?
Irish males and Irish tales
Another short drive and we met Dan Sullivan and his restored Carriganass Castle tower house (built in 1541.) This was originally a five-story castle and eventually enclosed by a stone fort along the Ouvane River.
It was here I learned the legend of Donal Cam, who disguised as a monk, found his wife’s murderer here in the tower and tossed him to the river below. Factually there’s no evidence this ever happened, but it’s the best story going in these parts – so who’s going to ruin a good Irish tale.
Inspiring pilgrims since the 6th century
Finishing up the day we motored to the end of the St. Finbarr’s Walk to see the glacially formed valley known as Gougane Barra. Here, set on the edge of an idyllic lake is the shrine commemorating St. Finbarr who built a hermitage here in the sixth century, before moving on to create a monastery and the city of Cork.
Warm hospitality in a glacial groove
As the day was drawing to a close, David and I were invited to the lovely Gougane Barra Hotel by proprietor Neil & Katy Lucey for dinner. They’ve been keeping a 400+ year-old family tradition alive since 2005. The hotel is open April through October each year. The hotel is recipient of dozens of awards and is a beautiful place to stay.
Food for the evening consisted of a salad of local West Cork cheeses with pear, bacon, croutons and honey dressing. The entrée was delicious, fresh deep-fried Dingle Bay Scampi with homemade chips and tartar sauce. That should have been enough, but they twisted our arms and insisted we try the ‘Gougane Mess’ – a heavenly combination of vanilla ice-cream with homemade mini meringue, red berry coulis and cream. Heaven in a glass.
Spending the evening with such good food, a view of St. Finbarr’s Oratory across the lake and in the good company of David Ross was truly a highlight of my Ireland trip. As we talked travel, faith and family, I was truly in awe of his accomplishments as a husband, father, minister, rancher and now proprietor of West Cork’s newest tourist destination – the Pod Pairc. This man’s energy knows no bounds.
I also made a discovery about myself. As a travel writer, I always tried to cram as many stops in one days as possible to be able to tell my readers more about what they could find at any destination. I measured success by how many photographs I could shoot in 24 hours.
While that is still necessary at times, what I discovered is that the true Ireland can best be appreciated by walking its paths and getting to know its people. If you want to meet two of the best, head to Top of the Rock and meet David and Elizabeth Ross. If a walking vacation is in your future, you can’t do better than this.
Top of the Rock details:
7 Pods available:
- 2 Luxury pods have toilets, double beds and hand wash basins with mini-kitchen and dining table. A pull out sofa can handle an extra two people. €69-79/night (2014 rates)(pictured below)
- 2 Family pods with three fold-up beds and handle five adults or six family members. Kitchen, shower and laundry facilities are in the main Pairc Centre building. €49-59/night
- 3 Standard pods come with two fold up beds for two adults and two small children (or three adults). Like the family pods, all services are close by. €39-49/night
Meals can be enjoyed in the Pairc Centre building, or Elizabeth can arrange a breakfast bag to be delivered right to your pod in the morning. It features those great Glenilen Farm products, jams and Elizabeth’s homemade scones (as good as I’ve ever had.)
We got back to the Pod Pairc just as the sun had disappeared over the mountains. The twilight glow let me get a couple more photos before making a cup of tea and then turning in for a comfortable night’s sleep in my pod. This day certainly reminded me why I love traveling – especially to Ireland.Groovy, furry stones with Irish tales – it’s all here (Continued from page one of two) If you landed here without reading page one, please go back to here to start…
Here’s a trio of cooking/drinking products we found at the International Home & Housewares Show earlier this year. After months of testing each, we are happy to recommend all three.Cookina Cooking Sheets
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Every few weeks, we scan our slew of press releases and look for great travel opportunities, around Cleveland, around the country and around the world. ToDo Tuesday’s wraps up some of the best reasons we’ve found this week to get off the couch, grab the camera and get outside to have some travel fun. Hopefully we’ll maybe see you at one of these events. If you’re coming, drop us a line.Add…
You may have come via the Bourbon Trail, but one drive down Main Street (it’s actually called N. 3rd Street) and Bardstown is going to grab you. Voted “Most Beautiful Small Town in America,” you’ll love the shops, the museums, the trains, and oh yeah, that little thing called Bourbon. There’s just so much to do in Bardstown KY, you might not want to leave.
If you’ve heard of The Stephen Foster Story and My Old Kentucky Home, you’ve already heard about Bardstown, Kentucky. But there is so much more to enjoy in this area. For golfers, there are four golf courses nearby, including the par 71; 6,385 yard championship Kenny Rapier Golf Course at My Old Kentucky Home State Park.
Bardstown started as the second city in Kentucky, way back in 1780. It is the home of the first Catholic cathedral built west of the Alleghenies and St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral still houses some priceless paintings.
Right in the center of town, you’ll find the Welcome Center (formerly the Court House). You might want to start here for maps of the self-guided tours of historic downtown Bardstown. If you enjoy older architecture, this one’s for you.
While I never really equated Kentucky with the Civil War, turns out they played a major part. The Civil War Museum of the Western Theater has an interesting collection of weapons, artillery and some fabulous paintings to put the war in perspective.
Bardstown seems to have something fun going on in just about every month, so check before you come and see what’s happening this month. While we were there, Colonial Days was going on and it was awesome. Coming in August 2014 is the fourth Bardstown Highland Games.
Ready to taste?
If you’ve come looking for Bourbon, you are in the epicenter of all things Bourbon. Right in Bardstown, there are three distilleries: Barton 1792, Heaven Hill and Willett Distillery. We thoroughly enjoyed visits to two of them.
Our first stop was the Willett Distillery; 1869 Loretto Road; 502-348-0081. Willett’s is one of the few remaining independently owned and operated distilleries, specializing in small batch Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys. If you’ve tried Johnny Drum, Old Bardstown or Willett, they all come from this distillery.
Tours are available of the grounds and include a tasting session. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you’d be wise to call ahead for reservations.
Second stop was to Heaven Hill Distilleries; 1311 Gilkey Run Rd.; 502-337-1000. Originally established in 1934, Heaven Hill is now the world’s second largest holding of aged Bourbon – with 40 open rick warehouses situated across the region. Their Heritage Center is a great resource to learn about Bourbon and Bourbon distilling.
Brand names you might recognize include Elijah Craig, Evan Williams and Parker’s Heritage Collection. Tours range from a half-hour with two tastings, to 1-1/4 hours with three tastings to the “Behind the Scenes” 3-hour tour with an Educational Tasting in the Parker Beam Tasting Barrel with four of the best Bourbons to taste. Go for the latter if you have the time.
Not a distillery, but worth a visit is the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace; 110 W. Flaget Street; 502.348.8611. It’s located in downtown Bardstown and may be the best place for Bourbon souvenirs and gifts. There’s a bar as well (of course) and you can try a variety of distiller’s products in one place.
Ready to eat?
Ready for the ultimate Bourbon Tasting? Consider the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. When they have a special Bourbon Run, it’s a great way to enjoy tasting, along with a great dinner and fabulous desserts. The night we went, Fred from Buffalo Trace led the tasting session with an opportunity to try some of their Eagle Rare 17-year Bourbon.
Prefer to eat sitting still? Wander over to Spaulding Hall and try dinner at The Rickhouse Restaurant and Lounge. Set in a rustic, brick walled basement, the food is fabulous and the atmosphere makes for a most pleasant evening. Try a flight of Bourbons with dinner or stop on Wednesdays for ½ price wine.
Just want something casual? If you can get in, Mammy’s Kitchen is the go-to place for the locals. Expect a wait – but it’s worth it. The catfish sandwich and the fried pickles were amazing. Butterscotch pie for dessert – certainly.
Hadorn’s Bakery, tucked away at 118-1/2 W. Flaget Street is the place to go for doughnuts. Ask any local and everyone mentions Hadorn’s. People are lined up in the morning waiting for them to open.
You gotta sleep
If you want something memorable, try the Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast off the town circle. The building was built in 1819 and is steeped in history. With any 200 year old building, you know you’re not in for 21st century accommodations, so be happy if the Internet is actually working, but you came for the atmosphere…right? No matter what, it raises eyebrows when you tell your friends you spent the night last night doing time in the Old County Jail.
If you prefer modern conveniences, there’s nothing more comfortable than the Hampton Inn Bardstown. Spacious parking, nice pool, great complimentary breakfast and dependable Internet make this a sure thing.
For more information about Bardstown, check their website at: http://www.visitbardstown.com/tourism/The shocking truth about Bardstown, KY You may have come via the Bourbon Trail, but one drive down Main Street (it’s actually called N.