Friday, July 20, 2012

West Cork - #100corners

Cork is the largest county in Ireland and I certainly found that out today in that I started at 9.30 in the morning from Courtmacsharry and at 7.30 arrived in Bantry - still in Co Cork. It is a county that I have discovered today that has some spectacular coast line, and with no rain today I certainly had a great ride around the ins and outs of the Cork coast.

First location was Clonakilty - a beautiful town made famous (for me) by some fantastic sausages, but it is much more than this. As with many other towns on my route, I wish I could have spent more time here.

Wow carrot cake.
After Clonakilty I headed for Galley Head via Inchydoney island. The roads in this region are very poor - there was much flooding in this area this year, and it shows. I had to take some detours around road works. Thankfully, the workmen were very helpful with directions. I stopped in Ross Carbery for a coffee and the largest slice of the most delicious carrot cake EVER at the Pilgrim's Rest - check it out, well worth a visit.

After Ross Carbery I headed for Leap and Glandore to stop at the Drombeg Stone Circle - well worth checking out to see how folks survived in times past. After this was the picturesque village of Union Hall, followed by a visit to Castletownshend. This lead me to the wonderfully named Toe Head and my first accident on this trip. Trying to turn around at the sloped entrance to a house, I could not hold the bike up and it fell over - the first time ever this happened to me. Fortunately Brian and Eileen (Dubs who moved to Cork 13 years ago they told me) helped me to get it right and I was on my way. My pride was hurt, and I was also embarressed at the dirty state of the underside of my bike (I should have taken a photo). There are some awful roads here not suitable for a Harley.

Lough Hyne Marine Nature Reserve.
A destination for me on this trip was to visit Lough Hyne - a marine nature reserve. This is a unique marine lake where I had my first SCUBA dive back in 1984 (with the lovely Angela Larkin!). This is a special location that brought back some fond memories of my diving days.

This is close to Baltimore where I stopped at Bushe's Bar for soup and sandwiches. There is a wonderful view of the harbour from here, but I also recall that my Dad's good friend Basil collapsed and died on the ferry to Sherkin Island here some years ago. Basil was a lovely man who is sadly missed by all who knew him.

Now - I was conscious that I had not actually travelled very far, so decided (with just a few short stops for photos) to head to Ballydehob, and motored on. I noticed another biker on a BMW (who was Swiss) that I had seen a couple of times earlier and we waved at one another a few times. In Ballydehob they are very proud of Steve Redmond who has just completed the 7 oceans challenge - there are congratulations posters everywhere.

Baltimore for tea.
It was now time to go to Mizen Head (the Cork one, not the Wicklow one), and I was in for a treat - spectacular views on a very pleasant evening. I did the tour to the lighthouse and Marconi radio station - brilliant! I'm loving every minute of this!

My final port of call for the day was Bantry. I stopped to checkout accommodation, and lo-and-behold- the lady Swiss biker from earlier also showed up. I got a room in the Kylemore Guest House who had only one single room (35e) and one double room (60e). Despite the fact that I was first, I offered the single room to the Swiss biker - this act of chivalry cost me 25e!

I had dinner, and intermittent WiFi, at the Wheel House Bar in the Bantry Bay Hotel - where I am writing this post. I got a super Scampi dish for 9e - great value and tasty too!
Beautiful evening at Mizen Head.

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