Ireland, United Kingdom · 28 Days · 78 Moments · June 2017

Exploring Ireland and the U.K.

2 July 2017

That was the end of the trip; next thing was a flight over top top and home.

1 July 2017

The rest of the day was spent wandering; Kensington, the (outside of) the Natural History Museum, Hyde Park and the Albert Monument, Kensington Palace. It was Canada Day, and the 150th one to boot so we were pleased to we a street hockey game going by the park.
We took the time to leave central London and head out to Hampton Court Palace. It was definitely worth the trip, with gorgeous architecture, a ton of history, and extensive gardens.

30 June 2017

We walked and walked and walked and ended up at Buckingham Palace. We were more trying to get home than find it, but hey. Palace.
Next stop was to Westminster Abbey, where we spent a very long time reading inscriptions and trying to figure out if the more flowery descriptions meant that there was less real feeling.
From the Tower we took a cruise down the Thames, which is difficult to get a good seat for pictures on.
It was Lauralee’s first time in London, so today was a day of hitting the classic locations. First up was the Tower of London. I’ve spent more time learning about the Tudor period since the last time I was here, so I was far more interested in the tower and what has happened here.

29 June 2017

While we were exploring the square I noticed there was a concert in the church that night and I HAD to go. It was a great experience, the acoustics in old churches are the best.
London! We started by going to the Trafalgar Square area to pick up some tickets and look around. One thing that always hits me in central London is how much iconic stuff is crammed together all in one place.

28 June 2017

We stopped at the Scottish Museum, where I’ve always admired the layout and way they organize their history. We were running out of walking energy though, and had to stop for a scone.
I took a walk to my old neighbourhood, which shows the most change. There’s been a great deal of gentrification going on in the area, which is a huge contrast with some of the old stuff that’s hung around.

27 June 2017

I’ve toured St Giles Cathedral before, but I haven’t taken many pictures.
We took the train down to Edinburgh and walked around the Old Town and the Royal Mile. The city keeps changing, but it still feels like visiting home.

26 June 2017

By Sligachan
Overlook onto Uig Harbour.
This place was called the fairy glen. No actual fairies were seen.
Oooooh, mountains. I'm a bit tired. But they were pretty.
Next up was kilt rock, which was a lovely sea cliff, which I might be getting jaded about. But I'm a bit sad this will be my last.
Today was Skye Day, where we took a far too quick tour around some of the highlights of Skye. This is the Old Man of Storr from a couple of different angles.

24 June 2017

Today was supposed to be a wildlife viewing cruise, but the wind stopped that plan and started a very lazy day. The only thing that actually got done was a trip to the botanical gardens to see some very lovely flowers.

23 June 2017

I've been around Loch Ness a couple of times, but this is the first time I've actually done a cruise on the Loch. It was great for a while, then got a bit boring and noisy on the way back. The guides on the boat did a great job of telling interesting stories, but there's only so long you can stare at the same beautiful landscape and watch other tourists take selfies.
After a day of transit we arrived in our home for the next three nights; Inverness. The morning was spent exploring the city; we went to the Old High Church, took the hop on hop off bus, walked the Ness Islands, and went to the memorial gardens.

21 June 2017

What are a pair of girls, set adrift from their planned vacation to do? We started with a day trip over to Mull and Iona from Oban, which made for a long day, but an interesting one. It was a misty day, but not generally a rainy one or, at least it rained while we were inside. We also had a lovely cat join us for lunch. He looked well fed, so I'm sure he joined a lot of tourists for lunch.

20 June 2017

The fourth day of walking was done alone; my travelling companion had reached her limit the day before. The first few hours were a joy. I enjoyed the solitude and ability to set my own pace but as the sun got higher my spirits sunk. I've always had a difficult time with heatstroke and spending hour out walking in the midday heat... it wasn't pretty. I ran out of water quickly and had to get myself to the nearest town to abort the walk and get to my hotel as quickly as possible. That ended up not being particularly quick; one of the symptoms of heatstroke is confusion, which I had in spades. I ended up on the train for almost two hours when I only had to go one stop. With my friend already done with walking and my awful day we soon decided to abandon the walk in favour of more fun pursuits.

19 June 2017

I really didn't believe it when I was told that the hardest part of the way was the third day, along Loch Lomond. Not when there were highlands to come. But, wow, was that a scramble along hills with very little path, a lot of rock formations to climb and little streams and boggy ground to go through. Despite being a short distance it felt the longest and wasn't helped by a touch of heat exhaustion. My walking friend is done, she'll be taking transit for the rest of the journey. I'm going to keep trying to go it alone for at least a couple more days.

18 June 2017

The second day was one of the longest distances, and included a hike up Conic Hill, which added a bit of a challenge. Well, a lot of a challenge as we dragged ourselves into the hotel an hour later than we thought it would take. The first day was definitely a preliminary round, an easy hike through flattish land. The second day was harder, on top of starting tired. We also got a little lost going out of Balmaha and ended up walking on the road for a while before we found our path again..

17 June 2017

We stared walking the West Highland Way today, from Milngavie to Drymen, a total of 22 km, according to my phone (including getting to Milngavie). We walked through trees and meadows, and actually through a field at one point, while being stared at by a cow or two. Our legs are sore and my shoulders are sunburned, but overall we're recovering pretty well from our travels today.

15 June 2017

Poor Kenny, what did he do to deserve this? Kil is Irish Gaelic for church, which explains the number of kil names. Bally is town. This was one of the few castles that I went in; it's also one of the few we say that wasn't in ruins thanks to the restoration work they've been doing. I thought it was quite pretty, Mom thought it was grey and bleak. We both liked the rose garden.
A quick stop for photos at one of the best ruins we went to at the Rock of Cashel. The ruins of Hore Abbey were right behind them. I would have loved to take more time to explore.
No I didn't kiss the Blarney Stone, there was an hour wait to do it and we had less than two hours. Maybe if I was more dedicated, but I'd rather see the ground. We went into the stone garden and explored a bit of it, one of Moms best walking days.

14 June 2017

Don't go chasing waterfalls.... Ok, no. But, Torc Waterfall was lovely, even as it starts to rain. I also found a cute little camouflaged frog in a stream.
Ladies View was a much more interesting view, with the Killarney lakes in the valley below, and a wicked cool tree on the hill.
Quick stop at Moll's Gap. Definitely one you can miss, but it still had lovely views.
Derrynane House was a place I could have explored for hours; not exactly in the house (you can tell; I didn't even get a picture of it) but around the ground. I only explored a bit of the gardens and the woods. I didn't get to the beach, the summer house, or all the way to the fairy fort.
Not even gale force winds could stop us from taking pictures on Coonmakista Pass as we went over the mountains.
Valentia Island has great views of the Skellig Islands and Portmagee when the fog is clear. It wasn't quite perfect today, but got close enough!
Somewhere off the Ring of Kerry we went up to another old stone fort. This one seemed smaller around, but had more layers and a central ring left.
Sheep, Dogs! Dogs herding sheep! Our first stop was a sheepdog show, where a farmer showed us different types of sheep, then showed off his dogs' skills.

13 June 2017

Is amazing how you go through a gate into Killarney National Park and it feels like you're miles from the city. My walk through here was all gorgeous, with glorious mountain views, forests, lakes, deer, and castles.
Dingle! Apparently they have a baby otter at the aquarium which I didn't go to so I am sad. But the town was lovely, full of brightly coloured shops and restaurants. Busy, since many tour buses stopped there.
This small 7th century church was made with dry stone walls, so there's nothing there but a stack of stone, done so perfectly that not only does the roof stay up but the rain stays out.
I'm just making up the locations on the Peninsula for these ones, the names that I have are in Irish, which the map doesn't recognize. This was a stunning location, which some of the most beautiful ocean colours tied with dramatic cliffs. No wonder Star Wars just finished doing some filming here.
Slea Head Drive goes around the edge of the Dingle Peninsula (clockwise, please) and has so many stunning views of the coast.
There was a random farm on the Dingle Peninsula that had beehive huts at least ~ 1000 years old in the back yard. The farmer ran a '3 euros to see them' business or, if you're less inclined to see ancient huts, you could hold a lamb.
I'm not really sure exactly where this valley is, but it was a beautiful green haven.
The beach! The freezing cold beach! Where I took pictures of snails, for some reason.
We had a quick stop at an outlook overlooking Killarney National Park.

12 June 2017

The Cliffs of Moher is a standard stop for almost anyone coming to Ireland. There's a reason for that, as they're absolutely gorgeous, but it's the first place where the crowds really caused an issue. So many of the pathways are narrow and hard to manoeuvre that adding hundreds of people to the paths makes them impossible to explore.
It does exist! Years ago I watched the movie The Matchmaker, which I thought was a made up thing, but apparently it is a real thing that happens every fall in this town.
The rock of the Burren really adds to the effect of what is, really, a small standing stone/tomb site.
The Burren is a rocky, seemingly barren section of the country, which is actually quite fertile around all the rocks.
It was a morning of ruins, next up was an abbey that still gets used for burials. With nearby cows. Because cows are everywhere.
We stopped at Dunguire castle, to take pictures around the tower. There are so many ruins of these tower castles dotted around the country.

11 June 2017

The afternoon and evening were spent roaming around Galway, which is a lovely town, but a little light on Sunday afternoon entertainment beyond shopping. I tried to go to a pub for some music, but they listed the music as happening at 6 when really it wasn't until 8, so no music for me.
The town of Cong seems overly obsessed with the fact that a movie was once made there. In the fifties. That my mom doesn't even remember since she was four. I think they might need to rethink their tourism strategy soon, because they have a lovely set of ruins there that was actually the main attraction, though I kind of feel that I should watch it just to feel in the know.

10 June 2017

Were staying in Westport, which I got a few pictures of. Yard. Pony.
We took the very, very, extremely windy sky road to Clifden. It didn't feel as dramatic as yesterday's trip on Achill, which makes me worry that I'm becoming inured to beautiful coastlines. Even the tour guide is running out of ways to differentiate one lovely place from another.
The main event of the day was Kylemore Abbey/Castle and the gardens there. The gardens were gorgeous, though not yet in full bloom. They're still working on resorting the gardens, and there was scaffolding on the abbey, but it was all amazing and with a great history to it.
Another quick photo stop before getting into town for some tea.
Today was a day of mountains and clouds, as we drove through Connemara. This place was possibly part of the twelve bens? I lost track, to be honest. There were several mountain ranges.

9 June 2017

The afternoon was spent exploring Achill Island. First there was Grace O'Malley's castle, which is more just a tower now, but convincing for a rapunzel legend. Well, actually for a fierce pirate legend. There was a series of stops for dramatic seascapes and awkward sheep on the road until we got to Keem beach. It was cold and windy, but there were still people,out enjoying the sand and a couple of food trucks thar drew in everyone on the bus.
Crossmolina was a nice lunch stop, with a quick walk along the river. We had a young robin decide to make friends with us along the way!
I have somehow reached the point where I can rate the megalithic tombs that I have seen. Because of the history in this area with stones being taken away to build roads and a landlord who desired to hunt for treasure, much of the greatness of Carrowmore was lost. The main mound that you go into is mostly a replica, with just the altar in the centre and the base stones being original. Queen Maeve's mound, on a nearby hill, seems like it might be more interesting.
Our first stop in the morning was at W. B. Yeats' grave which is, well, a grave. The scenery and church around it were lovely, and there was the friendliest cat greeting everyone as they arrived.

8 June 2017

We landed in Donegal for the night, which is a lovely little tourist town, with the most gorgeous walk along the river. They've added fairy houses to many of the trees, witch gave the whole thing a sense of whimsy. Though, I don't think Irish fairies are that whimsical... There's also a castle in town, which I was too late to get into.
We stopped at a random Irish beach in the north of the Republic. It was so much fun for this landlocked girl to see so much of the sea this trip.
We stopped in Dunlewey for lunch, right outside the Glenveagh National Park. We saw a few mountains and Mom made me take pictures of Rhododendrons.
The remains of a ring fort on the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. I love the way the rock fits together, the amount of work that must have gone into it. Plus, the views were crazy!
Oh, Londonderry/Derry. Which name you you depends on whether you're listening to Britain or Ireland. The walls were a great example of medieval walls, and one of the few cities with complete walls left. Most of the walking tour was about the city's turbulent past with the 'troubles in the north'.
I took an early morning walk on the beach in Portrush, where we spent the night. It was drizzly and a bit cold, but so lovely to be by the sea; and so quiet at first. I was the only one there.

7 June 2017

The Giant's Causeway is such an amazing experience. You wouldn't think that oddly geometric rocks would have such an amazing effect, but there it is.
We stoped at the overlook at Carrick-a-rede, but didn't actually go down to the bridge. Most of the people I'm with would not have been able to or want to go across, so that was probably a good thing, but I would have liked to cross again!
So, I have to confess, we didn't actually go INTO the Titanic museum. There wasn't much time for the stop so we hung around outside the building as I took pictures. We were at the peace wall murals first, but the tour really didn't go very in depth in Belfast.

6 June 2017

St. Stephen's Green seems to be the place to spend a sunny afternoon lounging on the grass with friends. And watch a swan groom itself.
Only Oscar Wilde could have this statue.
The crypts were closed at Christ Church, so there was less to see than there normally would be. It felt a bit redundant to be there right after St Patrick's as they have the same basic layout, but it was still a gorgeous cathedral.
St. Patrick's is a gorgeous old gothic cathedral, which struck me as being one of the quirkier ones that I've been to.

5 June 2017

Went to see the Book of Kells and Long Library at Trinity College. The Book is gorgeous, but so difficult to display in a way that you can really appreciate it; either you have to destroy the Book to take it apart or hold the Book open to one set of pages. The Library is gorgeous, all dark wood and books everywhere. The librarian in me cringes a bit at the classification system, by size then alphabetical by title. In Latin, of course.