Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.
Visitors to Scotland cannot fail to notice the sizeable islands that surround it. Their names, once unknown to me, now have the associations of actual visits attached to them. Not only that but it is possible to hop from one island to another without needing to return to the mainland so often. That subject possibly is best left for a separate piece on here but the situation is a counterpart to that across the sea in Ireland.
Here, the islands are smaller and the viability of communities is more than an occasional question. You don't find the same network of vehicle ferries that are well known in its northeastern neighbour. Everything is on a much smaller scale with each island having its own ferry operators rather some national behemoth running the lot. Island hopping is not a reality unless you hire a boat yourself because island-to-island services don't exit. Everything leads back to the mainland, seemingly.
That smaller scale means that you don't need a car anyway. Explorations on foot or by bicycle suffice. That's just as well given that few car ferries operate anyway and may even explain that reality. You have to think that bringing even a tractor onto one of these places requires dedicated planning and booking.
Many are bastions of the Irish language and culture too. Without having to deal with the immediacy of modern distractions must help and more traditional entertainment abounds with music making and story telling being what many visitors experience.
What I cannot claim is that I have visit many Irish islands. In fact, I have been on Sherkin off the coast of Baltimore in west Cork, Garinish off the coast of Glengarrif in the same part of the world and that's the extent of it. Like my absence from much of Ireland's hill country, I keep thinking that this is something that I should address and convert those electronic explorations into real life ones. Quite what becomes of that thinking is another matter.
In the meantime, here's a short list of what abounds off Ireland's coastline. For the moment, I'll admit to its incompleteness but everything in this little nook of the web is, anyway.
They remain outposts of Irish language and culture and this is the place on the web that celebrates the delights that await visitors to these islands. Their compact nature should not fool because a certain Tim Robinson extricated enough raw material for two books from these outliers from the Burren on the mainland.
The Aran Islands aren't the only inhabited examples of such things off the coast of Galway as Inishbofin proves. With the right weather, it looks an interesting and views of the mainland should be promising.
Mayo has its peopled islands and this is one of them. It has a history involving monastic life and the "pirate queen" Grace O' Malley. Having a situation at the mouth of Clew Bay makes it easy to reach for a spot of exploration.
It may be a small place but that doesn't stop it staking out its place on the web. It has its passenger ferry connections too and you'll find it between Inishbofin and Clare islands.
You'll find this one not far from the shores of Castletown Berehaven at the mouth of Bantry Bay. Like anywhere else, it's the prospect of wonderful walking or cycling that arouses the interest an, with the Beara Peninsula nearby, there should be plenty on which to feast the eyes on a good day.