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Boards, bikes and hikes: my household journey in West Cork, Eire | Cork holidays



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At first, there’s some fussing from my 10- and 12-year-old sons. “Will the water be too chilly?”, “I don’t wish to put on a wetsuit”, “Are there even any first rate waves?”… However as soon as their younger surf teacher, Josh Mahony, seems with two boards below his arms and the form of shoulders that counsel he might paddle south to Spain and again in his lunch break, there’s solely silence as they comply with him into the waves.

Some hours later, having caught many waves together with their first correct unbroken inexperienced ones – earlier than as we speak they’d solely surfed extra simply managed whitewater – it’s an effort to get them out.

Sam Haddad’s sons on the Inishowen peninsula
Sam Haddad’s sons on the Inishowen peninsula. {Photograph}: Sam Haddad

We’ve come to Garretstown in County Cork, a picturesque stretch of sandy seaside dotted with easy gray, brown and easy purple pebbles. Within the automobile park, an outdated man is promoting honey, eggs and swedes from a picnic desk, whereas throughout us is verdant inexperienced countryside and cows, save a brutalist concrete bathroom block, a yellow airstream pizza van and a wood sauna sitting above the shoreline.

The boys are having a lesson with Atlantic Offshore Adventures (€30), and I hire a board to affix them. The water is extremely clear and wealthy in seaweed – indicators of a wholesome marine ecosystem. There was uproar in spring when Garretstown misplaced its Blue Flag clear seaside standing for not having the appropriate recycling bin, however that’s since been rectified and the award reinstated.

West Cork
The boys after their browsing lesson. {Photograph}: Sam Haddad

The waves are small, clear and wonderful – we even catch a couple of “get together waves” using in altogether – and as there are huge gaps between every set, we get to ask Josh what it was wish to develop up right here. “Everybody may be very sporty and open air loving,” he says. “I performed rugby, hurling and Gaelic soccer, and likewise did cross-country, swimming, browsing and windsurfing.”

He tells us the waves aren’t at all times as easy as they’re as we speak, however this seaside is mostly good for freshmen, as even when it’s ruined by the wind there’s normally whitewater to surf. And whether it is flat, they provide standup paddleboarding at a close-by seaside.


After our surf, we head to close by Garrylucas Seaside, a preferred sea swimming spot and revel in pizza at Stranded, a restaurant, tapas and wine bar that usually has indie folks bands taking part in.

Garretstown sits on the Wild Atlantic Approach, a 1,600-mile coastal route that runs from the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal to the village of Kinsale eight miles up the highway. We spend the night time barely inland amid lush inexperienced fields at Rivermount Home (doubles from €95 B&B), a peaceable place with scenic views of the Bandon River. The subsequent day we comply with the route west, stopping off at Clonakilty Journey Centre, which has a enjoyable excessive ropes course and zip wire, earlier than heading to the Sheep’s Head peninsula, and its community of 125 miles of coastal mountaineering trails.

The Sheeps Head peninsula
The Sheeps Head peninsula. {Photograph}: Joshua McMichael/Tourism Eire

We determine to hike the Lighthouse Loop, a three-mile route that circles the tip of the peninsula. With its dramatic sea cliffs, steep rocky paths, distant lake and lighthouse, it evokes an edge-of-the-world really feel that the boys relish.. That night time, we base ourselves within the harbour city of Bantry, staying on the Maritime Lodge (doubles from €104) and feasting on superb pizza on the Brick Oven.

The subsequent morning, we wake early and proceed on the Wild Atlantic Approach for a dawn kayak at Glengarriff Bay within the Beara peninsula, between the low Caha mountains and the ocean, with Nathan Kingerlee from Open air Eire. The bay is misty, nonetheless and empty, and the boys are wide-eyed as Nathan factors out extra wildlife in a few hours than they’ve seen of their lives: harbour seals, a white-tailed eagle, oystercatchers, curlews, gray heron and moon jellyfish. We even spot a mute swan taking her cygnets for a swim by the scruff of their necks, one thing Nathan says he’s by no means seen in 18 years of guiding.

Sunrise on Garrettstown Beach.
Dawn on Garrettstown Seaside. {Photograph}: David Creedon/Anzenberger

Our arms are aching by the point we’ve completed our kayaking within the bay, so we head to the Eccles Lodge on the waterfront, as soon as a favorite with Victorian aristocrats, for breakfast and the boys energy up on smoothies and waffles, whereas I benefit from the veggie breakfast choice, which incorporates spinach, fennel and potatoes with eggs.

Within the afternoon, we be part of a folklore e-bike tour (€49 grownup/€39 little one, together with bike rent), which begins on the vibrant fishing village of Union Corridor. The 12-mile experience, by means of rolling hills and historic Atlantic woodland, with sweeping views of the shoreline, has simply the appropriate ratio of adrenaline and journey to enthuse the boys.

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