Wednesday, May 10, 2023

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom 2023

 A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom 2023

Doorway to the Kingdom South-West Coast. Waterville April 2023

Getting to Kerry a lot this year and the latest trip began on April 25th with the destination being the area from Waterville to Valentia Island.

First stop was for a lunchtime snack at the newish Luna Wine Bar in Killarney, quite close to where the jarveys gather to pick up their fares. Luna is a high-quality deli serving coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads with a natural wine offering.


Saw their sandwiches on Facebook and they caught my eye. The offering on the day’s menu was:

• chargrilled chicken thighs, smoked harissa mayo, black olive + lemon tapenade, pink pickled onions, mixed leaves

• panko crumbed tofu, katsu mayo, carrot + cabbage slaw, coriander

  • hot smoked @gubbeen ham, smoked cheese, wild garlic pesto + horseradish mayo, mixed leaves

You can always rely on Gubbeen so that was my pick, quite a hearty one. Some interesting drinks there, including Kombucha (from Galway), their own sparkling rhubarb lemonade “back by popular demand for the season”, but my pick was the excellent Attyflin Apple Juice.

McCarthy Mor Tower House, Ballinskelligs Beach

Charged by that, we motored on and headed for Ballinskelligs with the intention of doing part or all of the Bolus Head walk. But the meagre sunshine that accompanied us to Killarney had begun to vanish. 

We drove to the trailhead and headed off on the walk for Bolus Head (it takes about three hours). It soon became apparent (maybe not the right word) that it would be foolish to keep going as the mist was begin to creep down from the mountain tops and a second front spread across the ocean and those magical islands of the Skelligs had disappeared totally. But we did enjoy our hour on the walk with the sea on one side and the hard fields full of sheep and their lambs and a scattering of cattle on the other.

On then to Ballinskelligs itself and there was better visibility down by the bay. Good view of the ruined McCarthy Mor Tower House (Ballinskelligs Castle) and the more distant Ballinskelligs Abbey (also in ruins). 

Time then to check in at our accommodation for the night, the outstanding Seaclusion B & B right on the seaside in Waterville. It is one of the best examples of its type that I've come across in a long while. A very warm welcome, beautifully decorated throughout, and a great view over the bay from our room. Great choice at breakfast and top class as well. Hard to beat the French Toast there! Plenty of private parking also. Very helpful too with tips of where to eat and it was here that we found out the location of the McGill Brewery (a very good tip indeed!).

Next “trip” was a leisurely walk from Seaclusion to the Lobster, a bar cum restaurant a few blocks nearer Waterville centre. We got a table by the window and by the time we left were full to the gills with some excellent food, including a outstanding Halibut special.

The following day was widely forecast to rain on us all day long. It just didn’t happen, though there was a shower as we made our first stop at the McGill Microbrewery (recommended by Seaclusion) across from the church on the road to Ballinskelligs. Be careful crossing the road here as the traffic comes from a few different directions and moves quite quickly


Bubbles & Chocolate

Got a warm welcome from founder-owner Joe and we'll feature the brewery in the blog soon. We had enjoyed his Waterville IPA at the Lobster and on the strength of that bought a bunch of his beers at the local Centra.

Off then to Ballinskelligs Beach. The rain had stopped, for the day, but it remained dull. There was one sign of summer though as a large crane arrived to lift the Lifeguards’ Hut into position on the strand. Off we went on our walk, first to the ruined abbey; apparently the monks from Skelligs ended up here when they abandoned the island. Back then to the McCarthy castle, on the beach, before getting into the car again and following the Skellig Ring.

This took us back towards our stop of the day before but this time we continued on to visit the Skellig Chocolate factory. We had been disappointed that we haven’t been able to get their Brittle boxes recently and had it finally confirmed to us that they have been replaced by the Shards. Still disappointed at that decision by the new owners but we did buy a few bits and pieces including a couple of their bars, most notably an outstanding Milk Chocolate with Aran Island Sea Salt Fudge.

On along the narrow roads then for a visit to the spectacular Kerry Cliffs (€5.00 per person). You walk up a prepared pathway to a 2-pronged viewing area. You are advised to do the one on the right first (where the cliffs are more rugged) and then the left, but you do have a view all the while. 

The famous islands from the Kerry Cliffs

The heights are very impressive. It remained dull but we still got a good view of the Skelligs from a specially built extension to the pathway. A popular place and well worth the few euro!

People high on the viewpoint to the right at Kerry Cliffs

Down then to Portmagee and over the bridge to Valentia. It had been a while since we visited the Skellig Experience Centre just past the bridge.  It has an exhibition area, an audio visual, gift shop as well as a fully licensed restaurant.

Here, through re-creations and models, you can study the works and lives of the Skellig monks of the early Christian period and wonder at the legacy of architecture that they left behind.

The Skellig Experience with its grass covered roof; Portmagee in background

The Skellig Experience Centre also offers the history of the island’s lighthouse keepers and its service to mariners since the 1820’s. And there’s a fine educational display about the seabirds of the area. It may be a bit limited in size and in technology, but there’s still quite a lot to take in here.

Whenever we visit Valentia, the Bray Head walk is part of the tour. But not this time and we didn’t get to the lighthouse, the slate quarry or the tracks of the tetrapod.

View from the top of the island. Just a fraction of the 360° panorama

But we did get to the top of Geokaun Mountain, the highest point on Valentia Island at 266 metres. On top of the mountain you have a fantastic 360° panoramic view over the Skelligs, the Blasket Islands and Dingle Bay.

We called it a day in the great outdoors after that and headed for the B&B for the night. Horizon View is just about 15 minutes walk from Knightstown and is splendidly located with great views out over the water, even to the Blasket Islands, but certainly to the lighthouse. And your host Alan will give you a warm welcome and fill you in on things to do in the locality, the first of which is to view the superb seaview (including the lighthouse) from the sitting room balcony.

Sunset over the lighthouse, as seen from Horizon View, our B&B.

This gull came to see
what we had on our plate at the Royal
Later that evening, the sun (after just a few minutes being up) went down for the day.  Alan gave us the direction earlier on and we managed a decent photo or two even though he has seen many more spectacular sunsets in his lovely location, just minutes from Knightstown (and the ferry to Cahirciveen.

But we were in good form at that stage having been well fed at the Royal Hotel by the waterside, where the local beer Killarney Blonde was on tap. Next morning, having had a hearty breakfast, we said goodbye to Alan and headed away from the Kingdom and back to the Rebel City where we arrived 2.5 hours later.

Also on this trip:

The Lobster Waterville

Skellig Experience Centre - The Monks Dinner

McGill Brewery*

Royal Hotel, Knightstown

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom

* Post to follow

Recent Kerry posts

Killarney's lovely Victoria Hotel

Dinner at The Ivy in Killarney

Dining at The Harrow Killarney

Excellent Lunch at Brehon Hotel

Seeing Red at the lovely Sneem Hotel

Lunch at Killarney Brewery & Distillery in Fossa.

Dingle Drive, Slea Head and more 

The 2017 version of this trip has some other attractions not visited this time. Take a look here.

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