Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Best of Both Worlds

Here we are tipping into Autumn, and I’m not through with photos and adventure from May yet.

I’m going to wrap up our tour of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, with my favourite photos of my favourite moments. That I was there, and saw such beauty, and had such a privileged glimpse into another world is almost dream like.

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

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A whale watching trip, with Whale Watch West Cork

If I’d seen little more than a few fins I think I’d have been happy,

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But we got so much more than that, we got

Dolphin UHDD 3

these views and the knowledge and experience of Nic Solcum  

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The pod of dolphins short-beaked common dolphins  turned and tumbled in the wave from the bow, after a little while* Nic cut the engines and let them swim off, about their business. There was a little German girl on the boat, aged about five, she stood at the bow, and waved them goodbye. I’m pretty sure she will always remember the experience, I know I will.

*No idea how long, it was one of those experiences where time takes on a pace of its own.

 

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Spud on tour

Did Spud the dog enjoy touring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way? (Well, the small part we managed, so much to see, do, and enjoy, we’ll be returning). Yes he did.

Spud beach

It’s twelve months now, since he broke his elbow in three places.  You can see his stance in this photo, it’s not perfect

 

Spud ball.jpg

but he can steam around with all the enthusiasm you’d expect from a Springer, his mobility is far better than we could have ever imagined at the time of his accident. Surprisingly (to us, at least) his biggest issue from his accident has been his hip, which causes him some discomfort, we’d noticed just before his accident that he’s been running with a bunny hop and seemed to find stairs difficult, we discussed only days before that we perhaps ought to be taking him to the vets.  As it happen we’ve been to the vets a lot since then!

Spud has hip dysplasia, as do so many dogs. After his accident and surgery he had to have ‘crate rest’ for six weeks, and many months of little or no exercise, during this time he lost quite a bit muscle tone, and he’s struggles to use his leg as he should and keep its mobility. ‘Use it or lose it’ doesn’t really work for a dog, so he has physiotherapy and hydro-therapy, he’s less keen on the latter, He occasionally falls asleep during his physio sessions though, once the ‘uncomfortable’ bits are done. He’s a model patient.


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Flowers of the Burren

The flora of the Burren, on Ireland’s West Coast, are beautiful, and world famous

Flowers Burren 14

Botanically, the Burren is one of the most fascinating regions in Western Europe with plants normally found in widely separate parts of the continent growing alongside each other. Thus mountains avens, a species usually found in sub-arctic and mountainous areas, can be found alongside such southern European species as bloody cranesbill and the dense-flowered orchid whose distribution is centred on the Mediterranean. In addition, plants ordinarily associated with acidic conditions such as heathers grow abundantly on the Burren limestone and plants typical of woodland flora commonly grown in open conditions.

There are many different habitats, meadows,

Wild flowers Burren_

deliciously cool hazel groves,

Wild flowers Burren 6 the open, and at first glance, barren, limestone pavements.

The Burren_

But it’s not just flowers of course. This little frog was beautifully camouflaged, I wanted him to hop under a shady leaf, surely his skin would burn on such a hot day?

Frog Burren

I could try naming all the flowers we saw, I’ve even got  a book to help,  Wild Plants of the Burren and th Aran Islands, by Charles Nelson, but it needs further study, I’m going to take a stab at this one, I think it O’Kelly’s spotted orchid

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We saw an elderly couple, who looked like they might be botanists , dressed in full ‘Indiana Jones’ fatigues, with rucksack bulging, striding out along the track, having been droped off by a local taxi. It must a dream destination for them.

It’s a magical place. and one to which I’d happily retun.

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Digging deep, smelling sweet

Another post about the Burren, from our journey on The Wild Atlantic Way, the Burren a special place, with ancient history.

This is Caherconnell Fort  to do it justice, and not make it look like just a collection of drystone walls, as most of my images did, you probably need a photo from a drone (I don’t like to be around when drones are flying, but they do give a fantastic perspective).

Chaherconnell stone fort 2

One of the reasons it has survived over the centuries, is that is thought to be a place where the fairies hang out, and therefore a place not to messed with.  So as well as happy fairies, there are now happy archeologists and a posse of student each summer, who I guess have just learned to rub along together.

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sifting away, finding treasures.  Cahconnell fortIt was turning out to be a sunny day, and given how the summer had panned out since then (early June) I guess they are going to have got through a good deal more than two bottles of sun cream!

Tools of the trade

Good to see it part of the risk assessment, though I was more worried about the young chap wielding a strimmer, without eye or ear protection. Nooooo don’t do it.

A few miles up the road, we took a step even further back in time at Poulnabrone Dolmen    which is a megalithic portal tomb.

Poulnabrone dolmen

By then the heat of the day was climbing, and we were very glad to find the soft shade of Burren Perfumery, and even more delighted by a shady spot in the garden of the tea room. Which was, unfortunately marred by a party of visitor smoking, cigarette smoke wasn’t really the scent we expected.

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But the staff helpfully found us another table that wasn’t down wind of the smokers.

The perfumes  they create, are inspired by, the flowers of the Burren, which deserve a post of their own,  given thier special botanical status.  You will be pleased to read, the local flowers are not picked for the perfumes, but sourced elsewhere.

The gardens were pretty,  look at those watering cans,  I have watering can envy. 

 

 


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Romantic Ruins

More from our meander along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

I’m not sure why ruins are refered to as romantic, I tried to find out, but I’m not sure I’m any the wiser.  I think I’ll go with the term magnificent ruins, for these buildings are magnificent.

To me they speak of  change and in the case of these buildings, social and political turmoil, but I suppose that’s inevitable if you hang around for a few hundred years.

This is Leamaneh Castle 

Big House Ireland

It stands in private land, and due to its precarious state it’s not maintained.  The orignal tower house is on the right of the next photo, and built-in 1480-90 I’m sure if was around here, someone would have ‘repurposed’ the stone over the centuries.

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This is Garrettstown, this is one wing, there is another wing, but the planned ‘grand house’ was never built, as the cash ran out.  It now forms part of Garrattstown Holiday Park, a stop-over on our travels.

Big House 3

Now this one has more of a romantic look  I think, with a Rapunzel vibe  It’s Newtown Castle, it has been beautifully restored and hosts weddings rather than battles 

Art School

The estate is also home to The Burren Art College, and we had a lovely lunch there, and Spud the dog had the time of his life, about six students (all girls, from the USA) who were on a month-long residency and were missing their pet pooches from back home swarmed over him, he had his tummy tickled whilst we ate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big House 3http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=CO&regno=20912426


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Mizen Head

Ireland’s most southwesterly point, and home to the Mizen Head Signal station, as you can see, it’s an isolated spot that is enhanced by modern paths and an essential bridge (to my mind)

Mizen head view

We didn’t need telling more than once

Dangerous cliff

We were keeping to the paths.

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Which had their own attractions

Mizen Head orchid rock

 

Mizen Heasd chain

We are duty bound to photograph such feats of engineering, as Joe is studying civil engineering, and like to see a nice bridge.

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The signal station is now a museum, much of its original equipment remains,

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Along with documents,

Mizen Head Telegram

which kind of looked a bit haphazard, but one hopes they’ve been catalogued

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This was my favourite, an inventory of  tubes and fuses, who need an Excel spreadsheet eh? I like the faux alligator skin print of the cover

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Working here must have been an isolated life, you weren’t going to see a lot from the window, and certainly not the next landfall of America, it does feel like the edge of the world.

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and before the bridge was built, there were only a few ways of leaving.

Mizen Head Rescue

We had the luxury of walking off, although Mr Uphilldowndale, was keeping to the centre of the bridge, and not looking down.

 

Mizen Head Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Conor Pass

The Conor Pass is one of the highest and most scenic roads in Ireland.  The day we drove over, the conditions were good, and traffic was light.  Mr Uphilldowndale had ridden his bike to the summit the previous day, and had not seen very much at all.

Conor Pass

It’s narrow and steep, but whilst I wasn’t driving, I didn’t think it wasn’t as arduous as Hardknott Pass  in Cumbria or Bealach na Ba in Scotland  (I’m sure the weather helped)

Conor Pass rocks

The view was stunning,

Conor Pass sumit

I loved the birdeye view of the ancient croft and sheep pens down in the valley.

Conor Pass walls