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London and Ireland, August 2010  (Sergi & Yolanda)

22-day trip to Ireland and London. We flew to London to spend four days there and then we went to Dublin, where we rented a car to go around the country. Ireland is a green windswept island with sharp cliffs that plunge into a rough sea.

Ireland is a very expensive country, so even though some nights we stayed in beautiful bed & breakfast, we brought our tent and most of the nights we stayed in campsites. The strong wind and rain were a problem, but it was an experience sleeping on the top of a cliff, exposed to the elements, facing the Atlantic. In general, we ate what we bought in supermarkets or we had lunch in fast foods.

5.Bru na Boinne
7.Giant's Causeway
9.Rathlin Island
10.Glengesh Pass
11.Slieve League
12.Lough Key
13.Connemara National Park
14.Doolin Cave
15.Cliffs of Moher
17.Aran Island
18.Ring of Kerry
19.Killarney National Park
20.Beara Peninsula
21.Whale Watching
22.Cahir Castle
23.Rock of Cashel



Getting There & Away

We flew to London with Ryanair from Girona airport to Luton airport. From there, we took the bus Greenline 757 and got off at Baker Street.

For going to Dublin we flew from Stansted Airport, which can be reached by train from the city and there is a student discount.

Getting Around

The London underground has frequent trains and reaches almost all points of interest. However, the trains are small, a little bit old and very slow, and they stopped between two stations many times.

We bought London Pass, which we purchased online and picked up at Piccadilly Circus. It is a card that includes transportation (except during peak hours) to three days (although there are cards for another number of days) and tickets to many of the main sights. The days we could not use it, we bought an Oyster card to pay less for the transport tickets.

Where to Stay

We stayed at Trinity House Hotel, on the city outskirts, near the Blackhorse Road underground station. It's quite simple but it was the cheapest hotel we found online.

What to See & Do

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If you do not have a car, a good and economical option is an excursion from London, which includes roundtrip transportation and admission with audioguide. Stonehenge is near Amesbury, about 15 miles north of Salisbury, and it takes about two hours to arrive.

This megalithic circle, in the middle of nowhere, is a great testament from the Neolithic and it is very evocative. The visit is made by a marked path and you must keep a distance with the stones.


Where to Stay

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Getting There & Away

We flew from London Stansted airport with Ryanair, with a 9 hours delay (from 13h to 22h), so we had to sleep in the car because the campsites were closed. The only compensation was three miserable pounds with which you can not buy anything at an airport.

Once we arrived at Dublin airport, we went to the Europcar desk to collect the car we had rented online.

Where to Stay

Travelodge Phoenix Park, a hotel on the city outskirts that we booked online. It is next to the highway and you can go by bus to the city center.

What to See & Do

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Clonmacnoise is a monastic group founded in the 6th century. However, most of the buildings that are preserved date back to the 10th or 11th centuries.

There is a visitor centre, which contains a small museum. It briefly explains the history of the monastery and indicates where the great original stone crosses (North Cross, South Cross and Scriptures Cross) are found. Outside there is a wide area which is dotted with traditional Celtic crosses, and small temples, as well as a cathedral and other constructions. A wall was erected the complex, and some well-preserved towers remain. Crossing the cemetery you will reach the Nun's Church, a small church whose Romanesque arches stand out with very detailed and small carvings.

At the entrance there is a car parking, but when we arrived it was full and we had to park at the roadside.

The entrance fee for students is inexpensive.


Near this village, there is a bog (marshy land) and the Iron Age wooden trackway, although the way to reach them was not easy to find.


Beautiful large lake near the towns of Longford and Aughcliffes.


One of the most beautiful dolmens in Ireland, despite being very difficult to find. In Aughcliffes, we found hidden indications pointing to a path, which was supposed to lead to the dolmen. A little further on there was a closed fence, but some locals told us that we could open it or jump over it, as many people used to do. We reached a grass field surrounded by a fence but, once there, we did not know where to go. At the end, we found a small gate on the other side of the field. Going down a path, we finally reached the dolmen.

The dolmen is very well preserved, and its stones maintain a fascinating balance. We could not understand how they have it hidden there instead of trying to exploit it as a tourist attraction.

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To visit this prehistoric necropolis, you must go to the visitors centre. It sells the tickets, and organizes the tours to access both enclosures. That is the only way to visit them. Inside the visitors centre there is a small museum, where you can wait for the bus which will take you to the monuments. Outside the museum, there is a bridge over the river Boinne leading to a small bus station.


The entrance fee for students is cheap, and it is possible to visit the area around the castle or join a guided tour to climb up the tower.

The most important elements in the castle are the Homage Tower, which still stands up; the walls, and some other towers in different condition.

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The parking is completely overpriced and there are few alternatives. We arrived late in the afternoon, so we did not pay the ticket, and nothing happened, but we do not know if we were lucky of it was okay to park for free at that time.

We went down a path, and after 800 m we reached these stunning basaltic formations. There are thousands of hexagonal columns, which form the so-called Giant's Causeway. In spite of its volcanic origin, its name is attributed to a legend which says that it was builtby a giant. It is an amazing experience to be there, walking over the magic columns.


The parking was free but the entrance fee very expensive. Once inside, there is a nice 20 minute walk to the rope bridge. The path goes over the side of the mountain and offers impressive views of the cliffs and Rathlin island. Once in the bridge, you usually have to queue to cross to the other side. This rope bridge is suspended over the sea and connects Northern Ireland with a small island.


Getting There & Away

From Ballycastle, there are ferries that reach the island in less than half an hour.

What to See & Do

Near the harbour there is a tourist office, where a friendly guy explained as that puffins had already migrated. However, he showed us where we could see some seals.

Mill Bay was this popular spot, where many seals can be seen lying on the rocks or swimming.

It is possible to rent a bike, but we preferred to walk until the Eastern Lighthouse, famous place because from this point Marconi made the first commercial communication by radio to prove the the viability of this method. During the excursion, there are very nice views of the landscapes of this green and lovely island.

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Mountain pass in an amazing scenery. The road winds up steep hills, while on the bottom you can see the valley criss-crossed by many creeks. Once on the top, it is possible to stop in a viewpoint.


These are the highest cliffs in Europe (600 metres height). To get there, you have take a meandering road with the mountain on one side, and a shocking cliff over the ocean on the other. Once on the top, the car must be left on the parking to continue on foot, facing the terrible wind, until a viewpoint. The views are stunning: impressive cliffs hiding remote coves and caves on their base.


In this park in the middle of the forest you can embark on the Lough Key Experience. The audio-guided tour brings you to an old mansion which belonged to an aristocratic family and then around it, to discover underground tunnels, different chambers, and also a tower with excellent views of the park and the lake. After that, you can walk over a boardwalk on the tree canopies.

In the nearby town of Boyle, you can visit an abbey and the King House.


Close to Connemara, there is the only fjord in Ireland. There is not much to do there, but it is worthy to stop aside the road to enjoy the views and take some photos.

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The visitors centre is located half kilometre after the entry of the road. This national park has many paths to walk and there a lot of trails to do. In the first afternoon, we walked along the Ellis Wood Nature Trail, a short but nice trail through the forest, alongside a creek with several small waterfalls.

The second day we went for a longer hike and we selected one of the trails suggested in the Visitors Centre, the climb up to the Diamond Hill. This trail begins through a path which crosses a bog. A bog is a marshy ground showing specific vegetation and composed of about 96% water and 4% organic matter, which slows the decomposition process. After this part, the trail gets steeper. Although the Diamond Hill is not really high, barely 800 metres, the strong winds and dense fog can make the ascension more difficult than it may appear at first sight.


Corofin is a small and pleasant town which constitutes an excellent home base to visit many points of interest in the surroundings. Inchiquin Lake, near Corofin, has nothing special, but its location between green meadows makes it become the perfect Irish image.

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This cave has the biggest stalactite in the northern hemisphere. It is located near the town of Doolin, and the access is well signposted. The only way to visit it is joining one of the guided tours, which are organized continuously.

The entry is through a tiny gate. After that, you go down the stairs until a 70 metres depth. You walk along a long corridor and, at the end, you can see the stunning stalactite (7.3 metres height). Another trail leads to a lower chamber, where you can see the stalactite again, now from the bottom.

The cave has also other attractions, such as creeks and crystal clear lakes, or other chambers full of stalactites, stalagmites and columns.


These stone walls fall vertically into the sea, and they constitute one of the most common pictures from Ireland.

There is a parking at the entrance, but the fee is very expensive. It could be avoided parking on the side of the road, a little bit further from the cliffs.

The beauty and spectacle of these cliffs is unquestionable. However, the large number of tourists takes away the captivating wild charm that this spot must have had in the past. During the visit, you can follow the signed paths in both sides. One of them takes you further away, to have a great panoramic view of the cliffs, while the other brings you almost above them.

We saw some people going beyond the established limits, but it seemed quite dangerous and unnecessary.

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Starting at Ballyvaughan, there are several roads that cross the typical landscapes from the Burren. They consist of characteristic vast esplanades of grey stones with huge cracks. Walking and walking over them until the horizon, enjoying this unusual scenery, is an unforgettable experience.

In the same road, we can find the Poulnabrone dolmen. It is a funeral monument which contains the ashes of thirty-three people.


Getting There & Away

Boats to Aran Islands leave from Doolin harbour regularly.

A good way to explore the island is by bicycle, to get faster to everywhere. Just after getting off the boat, you can find many places to rent a bike. However, there are many ups and downs and stone filled roads hampering the way, and there are also many insects. The alternative is to walk. Perhaps you cannot reach so many places, but you can also enjoy the beautiful landscapes.

What to See & Do

The main village is a reduced group of houses with a pub and some small shops. From here, it is possible to go down to the beach or up to a demolished castle with great views of the entire island.

Near the shore there is a huge boat which shipwrecked and was pushed inland by the sea. The ship is oxidated but its skeleton is perfectly preserved, and you can get closer to look inside through some holes in the ship's hull.

The island is pure green, and it is divided by low stone walls, which are typical from the Aran Islands. Another main attraction of Inisheer is the lighthouse. It can be seen from outside but it is not possible to enter because the way is cut, and it is found in a private property.

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In the south of the island, there are several towns where you can take a tour to look for whales and other sea mammals. Departures are subjected to the weather, and many companies have no office, but only the boat in the pier.

We went with Collin Barnes, whose boat departs from Reen Pier. We had gotten the information in the tourist office of Skibberen, and we hired the tour by phone. During the trip, we found many dolphins and seals, but no whale. It seems that it was an uncommon situation, but we were not lucky.


Birth town of Michael Collins, who founded IRA. There is a statue honoring him.


Near Glandore, this megalithic circle is quite well-preserved. Between its stones, you can still distinguish a place where its inhabitants used to cook. They submerged hot stones in water in order to heat it, and it maintained the temperature for 3 hours, time enough to cook the meat.


Located in the city centre, this castle, dating back to thirteenth century, is quite well-preserved. It is possible to walk over the walls, to climb up the towers, and to visit several rooms. Apart from that, there are some exhibitions about the castle history, and a curious model representing how it was besieged by English forces.


The parking is located in front of a house, where the tickets can be bought. We knocked on the door, and a woman came out. A path goes up to the entrance of the cave. There you have to wait for the guide, so that you can start the visit. Meanwhile, it's possible to read some signs about the cave and The Earth's formation. Once inside, some steps go down into the dark and, after crossing a corridor, you reach a large room which is full of calcium curtains, naturally made by water, and also a lot of stalactites. There are some curious motifs whimsically carved by water on the walls. These include an elephant, an old man, Elvis Presley or the Statue of Liberty. In another room, there was a huge column, the oldest one in Europe, as well as other natural formations such as the House or the Jellyfish. In addition, there are some tunnels dub in the rock by underground rivers.

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This fortress is found in the town of Cashel. The visit starts at the Hall of the Vicars Choral, where there are Bronze Age axes and also the St. Patrick's Cross, dating back to second century. In the upper floor, there are old furniture, a carpet, and a detailed ceiling carved in oak wood.

The cathedral dates back to thirteenth century, and its most remarkable elements are the arches, pillars and capitals (with small stone heads carved in the upper part).

The oldest building in the complex is the circular tower (eleventh-twelfth centuries). It is 28 meters high, and the entrance door is located at 3.5 meters height.

The Comarc's Chapel is probably the first Romanesque church in Ireland. It is profusely decorated, with paintings on the walls and the vault, although they are age-worn.


Ernest Shackleton's birth town, although nowadays there is nothing related to him. The region is beautiful, especially when the sunset light falls over the wheat fields.