Ireland: driving to Waterford

We had a leisurely start to the day as we left Dublin by the coast road. It passes through Dalkey and Killiney (I once stayed in the Castle Hotel here for a research project meeting) and to our first port of call: breakfast at Shankill Street Food Outlet. There is an Oscar Wilde quote on the wall in the toilet here and a map of a 47km walk which crosses over to Tallaght.

We then drove through Greystone which was voted the most liveable place in the world in 2008. It was not immediately obvious driving through why this might be as it did not seem all that very different from other places we could think of. I am sure there must be more under the surface, not visible to the passing traveller. After passing through Wicklow, driving and food meant that when we reached Brittas Bay, a beach walk was essential. I noticed a couple of nearby campsites which took tourers and made a note to return when we have our campervan. The beach was quiet but had lifeguards and a few families enjoying the sun. I found some sea glass and our friends picked up some shells.

We made a significant contribution to our daily 10,000 steps.
Beyond Arklow the road leaves the coast and diverts inland to Gorey, Enniscorthy and New Ross before reaching Waterford. We made use of the last sunshine exploring Ireland’s oldest town, founded by Vikings in 914 AD.

The tower near the end of the esplanade dates from 1003.

There are old fortifications, the oldest Catholic Church in Ireland and many other buildings of various ages and architectural style to look at.

There is also a fair amount of street art. One of the hotel staff said that every year, various artists arrive in the town to add more during the annual Spraoi Street Art Festival. In 2017 this takes place on August 4-6th. I spotted some art down an alley:

You can visit the Tower, the museum, Bishops Palace and other sights but it began to rain so we escaped to the comfort of our hotel which is in an old building.

Sand dunes and iron men

The weekend did not get off to a good start. A planned quiet night in with a friend on Friday ended with me tripping over something and sustaining a deep cut to my chin (and a few other bruises) which would need stitching. Five hours later and back from the hospital we managed a few hours sleep. A few weeks ago my son and his partner had expressed a wish to take some photographs of each other in their Cosplay outfits amongst sand dunes. Our nearest are at Formby Point and so the trip had been planned for Saturday. The weather forecast was promising and I was sure a beach walk would be therapeutic so we set off in the early afternoon. The roads were quiet and although there were quite a few people at the point, we found a parking space and set off to explore.

Dunes 2 Formby Point (1 of 1)

The dog enjoyed a good roll in the sand:

Flora enjoying a roll Formby Point (1 of 1)

The dune system is extensive and there was an asparagus field behind them (it is now grown at a nearby farm) but erosion is constant – rubble on the beach dates from a 1960s carpark.

Dunes 9 Formby Point (1 of 1)

We spent a couple of hours walking along the beach, behind the dunes and back via the beach. I added to my seaglass collection and took a few photographs which might inspire painting at some point.

Dunes 6 Formby Point (1 of 1)

The pine forest backing the beach reminded me of those planted along the coast in southwest France by Napoleon in order to stabilise the dunes. Red squirrels can be found here but we did not have time to do the walk where they are most likely to be seen. The Sefton Coastal path passes through and is a walk we plan to do over a weekend, possibly next spring. We will return here at a different time of year and day as it is a very special place. We continued down the coast to Crosby and walked along the beach to see Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ – a hundred cast iron male figures looking out to sea. The classic time to photograph them is sunset but as James was working overnight, we had to get back in time for him to rest beforehand. There are also six figures near and in the Water of Leith in Edinburgh. So far, I have only seen one but must explore the rest. In the last two weeks we have seen the figure at Stockbridge, the Angel of the North and now some of the iron men in Crosby.

Crosby 4 (1 of 1)

Sunny Sunday

Cold and windy but blue sky and sunshine from early morning so it was homeward bound with a detour to the East Lothian coast. We walked a short section of the John Muir Trail between Musselburgh and Prestonpans. We have walked this section to Aberlady a couple of years ago and really need to complete the rest of the trail. Flora enjoyed sniffing around on the beach and meeting other dogs. I did some sea glass hunting and could have wandered along the sand and shingle all day. However we did need to head home and so it was off southbound via a few B roads and then down the A7 to the motorway. The M6 was unusually quiet for a Sunday afternoon so a much easier journey than Friday evening. Now trying to warm up a cold house.John Muir Trail vs Musselburgh & Prestonpans East Lothian Beach Footprints in the sand Teasels by the sea