After a week removing the soot deposits from the kitchen walls and cupboards it was a relief to spend most of August on holiday. It was interesting seeing new places, have time to think and to live life at a slower pace. Sailing means going with wind and tide (and the occasional storm). A picture that we bought in Cobh Southern Ireland provided me with a thought for this month.
Cape Clear Island was easy to reach from Baltimore. We did several circuits of the little harbour as all of the walls had no berthing signs. The space for yachts was at the harbour entrance and after our initial misgivings turned out to be a comfortable spot with water on tap and access to the shore by a steep ladder. We enjoyed a walk around the fairly steep lanes. It is a relatively undeveloped island with a bar, shop, school and heritage centre. A ferry arrives from the mainland each morning with visitors. It is a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area and home to artists and writers.
We had seen high winds and rain forecast for the weekend so we headed for Schull on the mainland with the intention of mooring in Crookhaven to see out the impending storm. Unfortunately the weather closed in a little quicker, and we found ourselves moored offshore in Schull harbour. It became difficult to access the shore as the winds increased.
The entrance to Kinsale is dramatic. Lush green hills, Charles Fort on the right and the remains of James Fort on the left. We walked to Charles fort the following day. It is a 17th century star shaped castle (a design to resist attack by canon). It was named after Charles II and was built to protect the harbour and town of Kinsale. It was important in the Williamite War 1689-91 and the Irish Civil War 1922-23. It was occupied by a British Army garrison for 200 years. It was declared a National Monument in 1973.
We sailed on to Courtmacsherry (locally known as Courtmac), a small seaside town. We walked along the Seven Heads path which included woodland, coastal path and a fuschia walk. The friendly locals helped us to moor on the small pontoon there.
Glandore (Cuan Dor or harbour of the oaks) was our next stop. A pretty village where we enjoyed a good meal in the bistro by the harbour. We walked to Drombeg Stone Circle where excavations in 1957 revealed a central pit containing the cremated remains of a youth. Especially interesting was the fulacht fiadh. There was a trough filled with water from a well. It was heated by rolling fire warmed stones into it. In an experiment in 1957 they heated 70 gallons of water up to boiling point in 18 minutes. Meat could be cooked in it and it could remain hot for 3 hours. The adjoining hut appeared to contain the remains of a roasting oven. Very civilised for 1100 – 800BC.
Our next port of call was Castletownshend, which as the name suggests is a village that developed around a castle. We walked up the hill to the one small shop followed by refreshments in the castle cafe by the waters edge. The Mary Ann pub served us a good meal and a sup of guinness.
On our journey to Baltimore we stopped at Loch Hyne. This is an unusual seawater lake. We walked partially around it and climbed a nearby hillside. Water from the sea rushes into the lake with the tide causing a section called the rapids. We took the dingy over these at half tide, which was great until we tried to get back. Fortunately a friendly family of kayakers helped to pull us against the tide.
We took a bus to Skibbereen from Baltimore. It was a characterful town with a high street of brightly painted buildings. No chain stores here, we were told that the supermarket ‘Fields of Skibberrean’ was famous (there are lots of apparently famous places in Ireland though). The visitor centre was interesting with lots of information about the Irish famine and Loch Hyne that we had visited the previous day. We had a lovely lunch in The Church restaurant, a tastefully restored building.
We had a good crossing from Scilly to Cork (23 hours), meaning the winds were a little too exciting at times. It was a very quiet crossing with no sightings of other boats, a little disconcerting especially at night. We checked the AIS just for reassurance. On Richards watch we passed two gas rigs then saw little else before glimpsing the Irish coast.
After mooring the boat in Crosshaven Marina we caught a bus into Cork. We wandered around, saw the sights and really enjoyed stretching our legs.
We left the boat in Crosshaven and flew home to England the next day.
On our return to Crosshaven, two weeks later, we replenished our supplies. There is a good supermarket in Crosshaven, these become a rarity as you travel west.
We sailed over the bay to the colourful town of Cobh. This was an interesting place because of its links to the voyage of the ill-fated Titanic.
The Titanic exhibition was well presented. Our tickets held the name of a titanic passenger. At the end you found out if they were one of the survivors, Richard survived and I didn’t. There were reconstructions of cabin interiors which looked quite luxurious, with proper furniture and running water.
We also visited an exhibition describing the mass emigrations from Ireland. The sheer the scale of it was shocking. The desperation that motivates people to flee their home countries on such treacherous journeys. Very relevant when you consider the migration that is happening today.
We had moored next to a restaurant so enjoyed a good lunch before setting off for Kinsale.
We did not travel far this weekend. A wander up the road took us to the local agricultural show. This was the 132nd show for the Blakesley and District Agricultural Society. This traditional rural show has classes for cattle, sheep,horses and some roots and corn exhibits together with a gymkhana, displays and trade exhibitors.
We arrived around lunch time and tucked into the hand carved roast beef rolls usefully located in the beer tent. Fortunately the glorious sunshine meant that this was not a Saturday to linger under canvas. We enjoyed a good stroll around the exhibitor stalls and animals. We watched a remarkable display by Atkinsons Action Horses who have “spent twenty years training horses and riders for TV, film and live events”. They provide horses and riders for Poldark (no sign of Ross though!). They galloped at fantastic speeds and carried out amazingly daring stunts, it was truly breathtaking.
On Sunday we enjoyed a 5 mile stroll to a local hostelry via green lanes and fields. We are surrounded by beautiful countryside and the quiet roads are popular with cyclists, horseriders and walkers. There are many footpaths and bridleways intersecting the roads enabling us to return home via a different 4 mile route after a light lunch.