Ireland: Exploring the South West Coast

There is nothing better to do in January -or any other month of the year for that fact- then have a little drive round Ireland. It was a little Merry Christmas present from us to us. Plus, it would have be rude to say no seeing as the flights from London were only £30!

Some people did have their Negative Nelly hats on. Banging on about how it was going to be really drizzly and cold. Now, we’re not going to lie, yes it did rain a little bit and yes it wasn’t exactly shorts and t-shirt weather. However, we realised that Ireland’s dramatic coastline lends itself to this kind to weather – really well actually. Similar to when we’re were in Iceland. It rained literally the whole time. However, it didn’t matter! We were standing under waterfalls the whole time anyway, so who gives a s***!?

So, after using Cork as our base and staying at The River Lee Hotel, we jumped in our car to explore the South West Coast.

First stop: Lakes of Killarney

On our first day in Ireland the number one attraction was the Lakes of Killarney, just over an hours drive from Cork. We had previously seen the pictures and to be honest, we were absolutely sold! It looked stunning with rolling hills and patchy lakes… what more could two girls ask for?!

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Our first destination was Killarney Town itself. Yet, in our opinion, isn’t anything to write home about compared to the main attraction. So, you know what, just drive straight through.

From there we decided the end goal was Ladies View, a panoramic view over all the lakes – an area not to be missed when in this neck of the woods! However, on our way from the main town of Killarney to Ladies View point -which is around a 20-minute drive- we must have stopped off around 5-6 times. Running in all directions to take in the amazing viewpoints. Resulting in a 20-minute drive taking us around an hour and a half to complete!

However, the area is drop dead beautiful so it definitely wasn’t a wasted journey. We promise you it will take you forever to get anywhere, therefore you might as well plan to take your time!

When we eventually reached Ladies View we were blown away! Plus, the little bit of rain we mentioned earlier, meant there was a stunning rainbow overarching the amazing view below. You could see for miles over the Lakes of Killarny.

Now, if you want to get the best view we suggest walking down the small hill and closer to the edge. However, one little bit of advice… be careful when walking around as it can get a little bit boggy. You potentially might lose a shoe – Camilla nearly did!

Next: Inch Beach

If we’re honest we didn’t actually plan to visit Inch Beach, but it caught our eye as we on our way to Dunquin Harbour. Plus, if the rest of the morning was anything to go by then we were obviously going to stop off!

Now, in the winter it’s not going to be the main attraction of your day. It was windy beyond belief and we had razor sharp, teeny pieces of sand flying into our ankles! Not the most ideal situation and not the classic, beautiful beach scene on a warm summers day. However, even in the wind and rain it is a beautiful sight. The beach is vast and to tell you the truth it’s pretty hard to see the end of it. It’s quiet, magical and the perfect place to take a pit stop.

We decided to have a stroll -grinning and bearing the razor sharp sand bullets- and it was one of the calmest parts of our trip. There’s something magical about an empty beach in winter… if you can’t agree then we can’t be friends.

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Last stop: Dunquin Harbour

After we’d stop off at Inch Beach we jumped back in the car to Dunquin Harbour. It was a pretty easy drive – minus the heard of sheep blocking the road for about 20-minutes! However, once we arrived it quickly became took second place on our Ireland hit list and to be honest, we don’t feel we need to say why. The pictures will do most of the talking…

Dunquin Harbour is the most westerly tip of the Derry Peninsula. It’s an ancient strong hold which over looks the Blasket Islands. Now, you can’t see it from the road, so you feel utterly lost until the last moments when you finally see the sharp spikes of the rocks.

We wandered down towards the sea. Taking the path as it snakes around the cliffs. Then, we decided to head to the top. Not long after walking down a not so well trodden mud path and a little climb up a hill. We were able to take in the stunning view and watch the sunset. It truly is the perfect place to say goodbye to an amazing day!

However, quick word of advice… don’t wear a skirt as the wind will not be kind to you.

After we’d watched the sun go down it was time to head back to Cork. Only a two and a half hour drive…

Now, we understand this amount of time may seem crazy to some people. However, with so many stops throughout the day we can promise, hand on hearts, it didn’t seem so far away. Plus, the view was absolutely stunning. 100% worth it in our opinion!

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Cohb

On our second day in Ireland we were up bright and early for sunrise… and if you know us then you know we bloody love a sunrise. We drove about 20-minutes away from Cork to an adorable sea-side town Cohb.

Now, full disclosure, we’d seen the amazing setting below -with the multi-coloured houses and cathedral- on Instagram and were truly blown away! So much so, we set our alarms for the crack of dawn and drove on over.

However, Cohb turned out to be so much more. From viewing this adorable setting, to exploring the cathedral and wandering down to the harbour, Cohb was a beautiful place. We actually settled ourselves down by the harbour for sunrise. It was stunning to see the sun rise over the water, as well as the numerous boats floating in the water.

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Next: Cork

For the rest of the morning we decided to explore Cork, including Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Blackrock Castle Observatory and Fitzgerald’s Park. However, our favourite place had to be Cork University – Hogwarts eat your heart out! The main building at the university is absolutely amazing. Old-fashioned architecture, open green spaces and even the famous university door. If only the weather was good enough for a picnic…

Final destination: Old Head of Kinsale

After spending the morning in Cohb and Cork we started to have withdrawal symptoms from the beautiful Irish countryside. So, for our last few hours, we jumped in the car and drove 50-minutes to Old Head of Kinsale.

Old Head of Kinsale is pretty much the furthest away and last point of the South West Coast. As we were driving up to find the perfect viewpoint the land on both sides began to close in until there wasn’t much between us and the sea. We walked along the coast and explored the cliffs. We felt like we had truly reached the edge of the world – and it was absolutely stunning, as well as surprisingly relaxing.

Oh, and windy, very very windy! Hold on to yours hats!

Plus, in the summer months Old Head of Kinsale is actually a golf course. However, you don’t have to be a pro golfer to visit the club. You’re also allowed to visit to simply walk around the grounds. Meaning you’ll be able to get even closer to the tip of the land then we did! If we’re honest, we’d 100% visit again simply for this.

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To top it all off we stayed in an absolutely banging hotel. As we mentioned we based ourselves in Cork at The River Lee Hotel, so there is absolutely no need for you to look any further. It is a little slice of luxury in the heart off all the action and, if we’re honest, you’ll need a little bit of pampering and a hearty meal after being out in the wilds of Ireland all day!

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