Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

More time in Ireland

26th February 2024

Currently, I am a freelancer between contracts and that gives me some more time to attend to my Irish affairs as well as getting some added rest. Thus, I was in Ireland for a two-week stint, trying to buy somewhere that my brother and I can use once we have disposed of another house that I inherited.

Such is the business of viewing property that there was some downtime too, and I also needed to clear my head of any confusion caused by estate agent patter. The weather may have been mixed, but there were drier interludes too. Sometimes, you also need to walk during periods of dampness, especially if there is a mind to rest.

Before all the property hunting, a sunny day was enough to return me to Blarney after a break of several decades. Thankfully, they have made the way down from the top of the castle to follow an easier route, which is just as given the steepness of the way up. On a previous visit with my father, the arrangement may have been reversed, which did not help for an easy descent for someone unaccustomed to heights. At the time, I genuinely thought we were going the wrong way. Kissing the Blarney stone was not an option, though added eloquence could have its uses…

The castle was not the only attraction, though; this is just as well, given the €20 entry fee. There are many paths through parkland, especially areas with more attention to their layout. For those, the word labyrinth may not be such a ridiculous description. There is a longer through woodland that circuits a lake for those fancying added quietude. It all ensured that value for money could be sought.

The city of Cork is not without its amenity walks, either. Old railway lines have been converted into Greenways that came in handy for surveying property locations as well as getting in some coastal walking. Others choose to cycle or jog along these too, so they certainly are multipurpose. One starts near Páirc Uí Chaoimh and continues past Rochestown to finish at Passage West, though you can continue to Monkstown too. This even allows a crossing to Great Island, allowing for a stroll from Cork city centre to Cobh. That was how it happened for me on one of the days, and another sunny morning drew me out to Blackrock Castle as well.

There are yet unrealised ambitions for a full Cork Harbour Greenway, extending from the city’s Marina as far afield as Carrigaline and Crosshaven. The missing piece is between Passage West and Carrigaline, yet the Greenway between Carrigaline and Crosshaven has its uses as it shadows the course of the Owenboy River as well as the road between the two places. Crosshaven has Camden Fort Meagher as well as a few coastal paths, so that may make the quieter option should you desire it.

Fort Wildlife Park draws many to Fota Island, a possibility by train that uses the line between Cork and Cobh. There also is Fota House, which is currently under restoration, and its associated gardens. All served a purpose on a day with its share of dampness before the afternoon grew drier. The wildlife was the basis of a school tour for me many years ago, yet that did not stop another visit that was extended to get the most value from the €20 entry fee. The gardens around Fota House saw another visit on a sunnier day that was not without rain showers. Even so, there were more chances for some photography and that was enough to lure me to Cobh again.

My travels did not stay around Cork all the while. Youghal got a brief visit, as did Waterford. The first was mainly a leisure pursuit, while the second involved some property reconnaissance. There was none of that during a day trip to Killarney that needed later bus connections for a return to Cork. My wanderings had eaten up more time than I had intended on a circuit around Muckross Lake. There were designs on an alternative excursion to Glengarriff, but the ticket machine convinced me that this was not possible. That was just as well, since it felt like too much of a risk anyway, especially I need to do something on the day after.

So far, my trip to Ireland appears to be serving its main purpose, and it was good to revisit old haunts and explore new places as well. Apart from a stiff ascent near Killarney or getting to and from the shoreline near Crosshaven, gradients were a less significant feature of any strolling. Nevertheless, the mix was welcome; you cannot be attending to business matters all the time in any case.

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