25 January 2010

Up The walls in Dingle(An Daingean)

Sunday was one of those wet winter days when the question arose after breakfast; what will we do today Dad? I said lets head to Dingle(AN Daingean) and ye can try a bit of wall climbing!! It wasn't long before we had passed through Killarney, Milltown, Castlemaine and found ourselves having fun chasing waves on Inch beach which made us good and hungry for toasted sandwiches in The SouthPole Inn in Annauscaul. This pub always facinates me with the many photographs of the the great Antarctic Expeditions and the heroic Tom Crean who survived three such expeditions and still managed to return to his native Annauscaul to marry a lovely local girl called Nell and to buy his own pub, and to go downstairs every morning to 'The South Pole'It was afternoon when we hit Baile na Buaile on the Feohanagh side of Dingle and there was no hesitation about getting in the door of play at height. An excellent facility and really good value for such a class set up, it cost €8 per person and if you wanted to rent the special climbing shoes it was €2 extra. It was really busy,there was a scouts outing, but the queues were fast moving and the people working there were both helpful and efficient. There was something for the novice and challenging climbing walls for the more experienced or more adventurous. There is also an outdoors area but unfortunately it was closed on the day,it looks exciting, there's a high wire course and of course the children were mad to try that too, we will just have to go back another day in the not too distant future......www.playatheight.com a great day out.

18 January 2010

Kerryman's Best Friend - Dog or Goat?

Press Release

Kerryman's Best Friend - Dog or Goat?
Hiking the Blackwater Way with a Goat
Does the famous Irish welcome still exist? Or is it now just another legend like Saint Patrick and Cu Chulainn? On Monday, 25th January, mountaineer and outdoor enthusiast Nathan Kingerlee will begin hiking the Blackwater Way along with a goat and a dog in order to find out.
The Blackwater Way is a way-marked trail, stretching from Shrone near Killarney in Kerry, to Clogheen, near Clonmel in Tipperary. Along the way it meanders down the lush Blackwater Valley, through fertile farmland and weaves through the Bogeragh and Knockmealdown Mountains. It’s one of 31 national way-marked trails, such as the Kerry Way and Wicklow Way. Although a popular route for hikers, it has probably never had such an unlikely group as a man, a goat and a dog travel its paths before!
"I have wanted to hike the Blackwater Way for a long time" says Kingerlee. "The idea of bringing a goat along came to me one evening while in my local bar over a few pints. I had just finished the book ‘Round Ireland With A Fridge’ by Tony Hawks and thought I would love to do something like that but instead of a fridge, a goat would be much better company."
Kerry native, Nathan Kingerlee, who runs Outdoors Ireland, an adventure company in Killarney, is optimistic about his journey. However, his biggest fear is that the goat may not be able to keep up with a 20km – 30km pace each day over 168km. It is a long trek for any human on his own but how will he cope with the company of a dog and a goat? The goat, Bob, is being donated by Cronin’s Yard at Carrauntoohil and Cara the dog is Kingerlee’s own Springer puppy.
"As this is outside of tourist season I’m hoping to find enough B&Bs open along the way" says Kingerlee. "The goat will be able to forage for food in the hedgerows and my dog is going through a stage of catching birds, so neither of them will go hungry!"
"In terms of equipment I’ll be fully prepared and organised, but in terms of the actual hike I’ll be doing I’ve no idea what to expect and that’s what I’m really looking forward to. It will be a chance to rediscover Ireland as a tourist, take each day as it comes and see what unfolds along the way" says Kingerlee.
"There’s also a slightly more serious aspect, I’ve spent my whole working life in the tourism industry; I want to take a step outside the industry and see if the Irish welcome that we market overseas still does exist in the little towns and pubs along the way and see if the infrastructure and information is in place for a tourist who could step off a bus in Killarney next Spring and decide walk the Blackwater Way."
Kingerlee will be keeping a daily blog of his journey on his website www.outdoorsireland.com.
Note to Editor: For further information or photos please contact Nathan on 086 8604563 or info@outdoorsireland.com.

One of the reasons I'm doing this hike is to raise money for
Kerry Mountain Rescue.
If you would like to make a donation please send a cheque/postal order/bank draft, made payable to Kerry Mountain Rescue, to the following address:
Nathan Kingerlee, Outdoors Ireland
Stookisland, Cromane, Killorglin, Kerry
Also attach your own name and address and one of the Mountain Rescue Team will be in touch to thank you.
It looks like I'll be talking to Rick O'Shea on 2FM this Monday afternoon, sometime between 12pm and 3pm, about my journey!

16 January 2010

Dursey Island

Just before Christmas, after an eventful day involving boats, trailers and ferries – which I’m still too traumatised to talk about – I spent a night in a lovely B&B in Castletownbere. The B&B was Sea Breeze, the wireless internet access was free and breakfast was delicious!
9am on a sparkling sunny Thursday saw me driving West Cork’s quiet winding country roads right down to Ireland’s most south westerly point – Dursey.

I parked at the cable car and stepped into the crisp refreshing winter air. Ireland’s only cable car has recently been replaced and is now a shiny blue and silver box. The original cable car, which has been in existence for as long as most people can remember, is now used as a hen coop in a near-by farm. The five min journey across Dursey Sound, from the mainland to the easterly tip of Dursey Island, is a couple of hundred metres, suspended on cables high above the Sound.

Today the tide was rushing through the Sound, erupting in boils, crashing against the wet black cliffs. I’ve kayaked through this stretch of water once, escorted by dolphins, but in much calmer conditions than today...

Paddy squints across the water at me, making sure I’ve disembarked, before recalling the cable car, leaving me, Darragh and Cara the dog alone on this rugged windswept piece of land.

We climb steadily uphill, following the rugged spine of Dursey Island across Knockaree, Kilmichael and up to the old crumbling signal tower on Dursey’s highest point; standing at 252 metres above the grey restless ocean.

It’s possible to shelter from the fresh breeze within the signal tower buildings, although there’s no easy way into the tower itself. The tower is thought to date back to the Napoleonic wars and was part of a system of similar towers lining the Irish coastline. I’ve been here on misty, damp days and it’s possible to imagine people waiting and watching within the thick walls as the wind batters the island, the rain pelts upon the walls and darkness drives in through the draughty cracks...

From the signal tower three kilometres of gentle downhill hiking brings us past one of just a few occupied houses and down to where Dursey tapers to meet the Atlantic; although defiant to its environment – like its inhabitants – the tip rears up into a little hill, before plunging vertically into the water.

On the dry, heathery ground we stretch out, surrounded by the sounds of surf, wind and birds, to enjoy some delicious and unusual food bought from Andy at the Truffle Pig in Kenmare.

Just beyond our feet, swirling in breaking waves, protrude Cuckoo Rock and Lea Rock. Further beyond that are The Bull, The Cow and The Calf. The Calf has a lighthouse perched upon it, warning sailors of the treacherous waters within.

After lunch we return along the Beara Way, then the rutted road, along bleak open landscape, with fantastic views over Dursey Harbour and Crow Head. Sparing dwelling houses, mostly abandoned and ruined, speckle the road on either side. The occasional house is still lived in, or used as a holiday home during the summer, and these small, squat buildings look like beautiful but tough homes. About one hundred people lived here once, now only twelve remain...

Closer to the cable car we pass a neglected graveyard and roofless church, called St. Mary’s Abbey. The graveyard shelters the family vault of the O’Sullivan Beara clan. Nearby is a field called ‘Pairc an Air’ meaning 'Massacre Field'. Here a large number of the O’Sullivan family and followers were murdered by British Forces, during the 1500's/1600's.

After a short wait we returned by cable car to the mainland, windblown, hungry and having experienced one of Ireland’s little hidden gems…

To get there take the R572 from Castletown Bere, for Dursey.
It’s about a 35 minute drive and you’ll need to check with your local tourist office regarding cable car timings.

Nathan Kingerlee
Outdoors Ireland