With the leaves turning and the clocks going back, we nipped across to Ireland for an end of season adventure sports sampler before the long, cold wintery nights finally set in.
Words: Juliet Elliott
With a flight time of just over an hour from London, the West Coast of Ireland is the perfect destination for the time poor thrill seeker. Many imagine Ireland to be plagued with non stop rain and bad weather but it’s favourable location in relation to the warmth of the gulf stream mean that the island actually benefits from a pleasantly temperate climate.
A beautiful drive through the rolling hills brought us to Cork Powerboat and Waterski Club where owner and Irish Waterskiing Champion Barry Galvin lured us into the dark waters of the reservoir with promises we’d be standing on our skis before we even felt the cold. Having never waterskied before my determination to spend as much time on the water rather than in it meant I clung on for dear life and made a pretty good go of whizzing around. Back on the jetty, we munched on biscuits and guzzled down sugary tea enjoying the achingly scenic and tranquil surroundings before relishing the warmth of the sauna.
Not content with one watery thrill per day, that evening we took to the rivers of Cork and kayaked around the city with ace guide and all round charmer, Jim who took us on a gentle paddle tour. As I bobbed about on the inky black of the river Lee sailing gently under illuminated bridges away from the noise and glare of the city, I was lulled into a deep sense of contentment and relaxation.
The following day after a drive up to Killarney National Park in County Kerry we strolled through the forests before filling ourselves with homemade scones at Dinis Cottage and hopping on a boat to cruise across the waters of Muckross Lake. Later that afternoon we swopped our two legs for four and ambled across the park on our new equine friends provided by O’Sullivan’s Riding Stables.
Not content to waste a moment’s time in this outdoor playground of beautiful vistas , the following day we picked up a guide and bikes from Ballyhoura Bike Hire before heading up into Ireland’s first and only mountain bike park. With over 98 km of trails from the gentlest of ‘footpaths’ to highly technical single track, it would take weeks to fully explore.
And that’s the attraction of the West Coast of Ireland – with so much to do, majestic scenery and friendly faces, the only problem is deciding how long to stay!