Seven Days To Drive Around Ireland In A Thirty-Three Year Old Three Series
Hey there! First of all I’d like to say thanks for passing by and taking an interest in what I do. I had a blast during our trip to Ireland, and I am super excited to finally share my images with you. Of course the photos speak for themselves, however I do think that some text alongside will help you to understand the finer details of what we got up to along the way. One more thing before we get started; if you are as inspired by music as I am, these playlists that I made are perfect to have a listen to while you read. So here are two playlists I made with some of my favourite songs (and some other songs that I have been adding over the years). This one is a little more calm and this one is less calm.
Day one: London – Snowdonia
May 2019. It was 11 am and I was driving on the M1 from East London. Having filled up petrol one last time at a supermarket in London (the cheapest one I could find), I started heading West; North West to be precise. I was heading towards Snowdonia, Wales. Normally, a five hour car journey along English motorways is long, monotonous and tiring. This time, however, it felt different. I was excited by the prospect of traversing territory that I had never experienced before. My destination for the day may have been Snowdonia – which is worth a visit on its own – but I had a greater trip ahead of me. The real adventure would begin in none other than the emerald isle; Ireland.
So let me tell you this story from the very start. I was stuck to the motorway until I finally made it onto the A5, and soon I had Snowdonia National Park in my sights. After driving through the Village of Pentrefoelas, I spent the night at the Gwern Got Isaf campsite (which I can only recommend), near the mountains Glyde Fawr and Carnedd Llewelyn.
Spending the night at Snowdonia was the perfect start to the trip; while I planned my route in the weeks before setting off, I saw that I had to drive through Northern Wales in order to get to Holyhead for the ferry to Ireland. Though my route took me there out of convenience, I had always wanted to visit this part of Wales, and decided to extend my journey by one day in order to take in the sights at Snowdonia — and what a way to start!
As soon as I got to the site I parked the car, set up the tent and looked up at my surroundings. The campground sits in a valley between two mountains, and it didn’t take me long to set off towards the hill on the opposite side from where I had parked. From there the cars and the campsite shrunk away into the distance, and I felt I could finally breathe in the fresh air. At that point, it hadn’t hit me that I was no longer in London anymore; my body and thoughts hadn’t travelled as fast as the E30 had. I returned to my tent about an hour and a half later, ready to make dinner and prepare an Instagram story of my first day.
Day two: Snowdonia – Dublin – Carrauntoohil
I woke up at 6am the next morning, ready to set off and make it to Ireland. I took one last look at my scarlet-red tent and began folding it away. As I was putting it away, I once again broke the zip on the tent’s bag and took a short break; questioning why exactly I travel using a 30 year old car and camp in a tent that is just as old. Soon after I remembered why though; whatever breaks, one can fix again and give these items a much longer life. I quickly dumped it all in the trunk and got behind the wheel of my 30 year old 1986 BMW. That night had been cold, and the engine didn’t start the first time I turned the ignition; another reminder of my aging, but simultaneously timeless, vehicle. A head popped out of the neighboring tent and I asked myself what today’s destination would be as I turned the key again and this time got the engine to run smoothly. As soon as I was ready, I put the old automatic into D and set off. Leaving the wonderful Snowdonia national park, I was sad that I couldn’t see more of it, but just as excited for the roads ahead. I took one last short break before arriving at Holyhead, trying to capture the fantastic scenery on this cold morning drive (see left). When I stopped, I noticed that one of the lights had failed, but didn’t dwell on it before I carried on to the ferry terminal. Whilst waiting to board I made a quick inspection of the bulb situation and thought that the best thing to do would be to swap the bulb. As I wanted to tackle problems like this on the road, I didn’t have a spare bulb with me; spontaneous solution had to be chosen. Shortly after I boarded the ferry, ready for what was to come.
After my arrival at the port of Dublin, I made my way to the airport to pick up my Dad who was going to assist me on the trip and whom I wanted to share this experience with. Together we set off from Dublin airport and drove South West across the island towards Carrauntoohil, the first stop of our journey. After driving for some time, we stopped for the night and to rest for the day ahead.
Day three: Carrauntoohil – Dingle Peninsula
The next morning we got up really early, as we had a few things on our list that we were hoping to tick off on that first day; the first being reaching the top of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s tallest mountain. After talking to the locals the night before we weren’t that confident about the upcoming hike, as both the guidebooks that we read and the locals had told us that it would be too difficult to get to the summit, and that only experienced climbers should make the route. We were told that we’d definitely need a guided tour to reach the top safely.
Just left of the summit you can see a bright vertical line, which over generations has earned the name ‘the Devil’s Ladder’. We were told that by no means we should attempt to climb up the steep slope to reach the top, and if we wanted to reach the top we should make the eight-hour trek all the way around it; this supposedly being the safest way to scale the mountain. As we approached the trail, neither of us thought that it looked too difficult, and so we threw caution to the wind and gave it a try. If it was too difficult we were still able to turn around even if it meant not reaching the top, which would be disappointing, but not a disaster. Despite hearing perilous stories of failed attempts at scaling the mountain, and multiple warnings about how difficult it could be, we climbed the Devils Ladder without problem and reached the summit. We also made it back down over the Zig Zags and back to the carpark in about four hours, finishing the trail in half the time that we were told we’d need. Though it wasn’t the easiest ascent, with good weather conditions and as fairly experienced hikers, we were able to accomplish it with enough time to tick off the next point on our list.
As we had our first accomplishment in the rear-view mirrors, we headed straight to the coast. While taking a short break at Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula, we encountered another kind of 80’s German! Shortly after, we headed our way to the well known Slea Head viewpoint and we drove around the Dingle Curve; one continuous road along some of the most beautiful cliffs of Ireland. After a long but enriching first day filled with hiking and driving, we collapsed onto our beds and got some rest before day four.
Day four: Dingle peninsula – Cliffs of Moher – Slieve League
On the fourth day of the trip we had one main goal: the Cliffs of Moher; some of the highest cliffs in Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are also the country’s most visited natural attraction and although there is now a big tourist centre, the edges are not reinforced or fenced off, and each year there are several fatalities. I have the opinion that places of such natural beauty like this shouldn’t have to be behind barriers to prevent accidents from happening. However, I do think that less experienced visitors should be better educated to understand the dangers of the environment and how far to keep away from the sheer rock face. While we were there, I was watching one man in particular who was repeatedly walking along the edge in front of me, and I could see that he was far too close to the edge of the cliff to be safe. It came as no surprise when he slipped on the mud along the edge and came very close to falling off and losing his life. He was lucky enough to regain control and avoid falling, though much to my frustration he didn’t learn anything from his mistake and carried on walking right up against the muddy and slippery cliffedge… Regardless of this incident, the cliffs were incredible to see.
Later that afternoon we drove to Slieve League, which boasts cliffs three times the height of those at the Cliffs of Moher that we had seen earlier on. But that would be another hike, which we hoped to complete the next day.
Day five: Slieve League – the Dark Hedges
We finished day four by enjoying a beautiful sunset. The next morning, however, was rainy and misty, and conditions weren’t looking good for our five hour hike along the cliffs. Though we were uncertain of how much we would be able to see and how safe the hike would be, we set off towards the car park regardless. When we got there, neither of us were confident that we would be able to do the hike in these circumstances. I managed to take one photo through the clouds from where we parked to get an idea of just how high up we were. Since we had read in our guides that the really interesting parts were yet to come and this stop was meant to be the highlight of our tour, we set off on our hike in hope that the weather would clear up. An hour later, however, we had to return to the carpark. The rain had entered both of our waterproofs and we started to lose track of where we had come from, given that there was no path for this hike. After a warming cup of tea, we made our way back to the car and never before was I so happy to see it. In such bad weather it reminds me of just what great shelter from rain and cold it gives, and how it still offers so much fun and pleasure whilst driving it. After that rather disappointing morning, nothing else could have saved my mood as much as that car.
Sad that we couldn’t do our actual hike, we left the car park; our spirits lifted by some local tea and cake at the next possible cafe. After this we continued towards our next stop: The Dark Hedges. We hoped that our somewhat unsatisfactory morning would be improved upon with a chance encounter on the way. On our drive, we stumbled across Glencolumbkille folk village and viewed the nearby beach before heading North, back into the UK. We arrived at the Dark Hedges in time for sunset.
Day six: Dark Hedges – Giants Causeway – Belfast
Although we had visited the dark hedges on day five and I took the above photos that day, I wasn’t quite happy with the outcome as I wanted the trees to reflect a certain kind of mystery. Despite the weather we had experienced in the morning at Slieve League, when we got to the Dark Hedges the clouds had cleared up and the sun had started to shine – which in fact was not ideal for the feeling I wanted to capture. I decided to return the next morning, and to my pleasure we set off into another rainy and cold day, allowing me to take the photos below, with which I’m a lot happier. Next on our bucket list were even more cliffs. That day we hiked along the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site and visited the Carrick a Rede rope bridge, learning that the small gap between the mainland and this tiny island was for years an ideal spot to trap and catch fish, which made that spot incredibly desirable for fishermen. As for the Giants Causeway, legend has it that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant named Benandonner. In order to meet Fionn built the causeway all the way to Scotland (where one can still find identical basalt columns on the Scottish isle of Staffa). In reality the causeway comes from a lava eruption that occurred around 50 to 60 million years ago. As the lava cooled the columns shaped and remained visible until today.
The Unesco World Heritage Site was our last main stop of the trip. On our way to Belfast we made a quick stop at the Old Bushmill Distillery, which is the oldest whisky distillery in the world! We didn’t get to see much of Belfast as we only passed through on our way back to Dublin, where my dad got the next plane back to Munich and I got the ferry back to Wales to drive to London that same day.
Thank you very much for reading and I sincerely hope that you enjoyed the images! To see more of my work check out my instagram; until the next time!