This was almost the shortest blog in history. Three letters – F O G. We are all a little reluctant to leave the majestic Ballyseede Castle this morning, but our tour organiser, Nanette reminds us that we have a “fairly long” day ahead of us. Considering how long the “short” days have ended up, we know we should get going. We can’t resist lingering over breakfast and then we just have to sit for one last time in the drawing room. It has the nicest antique chairs, the best chandeliers, and the strongest wi-fi reception. Finally we’re all in the Ford and off to the renowned Ring of Kerry.
We’ve debated at length the very deep question of whether to drive the ring clockwise or counter-clockwise. If you go one way, you risk getting stuck behind all the tour buses. Go the other way and you will meet them head on at all the narrowest points of the road. We opt for the shortest route and cross our fingers.
Everyone’s excited. We’ve seen some spectacular sights over the past few days, but this is going to make them pale into insignificance. After a relatively short while, one of our members makes the comment that is on everyone’s mind – “This isn’t quite as good as I expected.” Stop complaining, just wait until you get to the really special bit. Then the road narrows and starts to ascend. We round the first bend and get our first view of, well, nothing. There’s a heavy sea mist rolling in from the Atlantic and blanketing the hillsides. This doesn’t phase us at first and we amuse ourselves for ages with clever plays on the word “mist” – “it looks like we mist the best view, ha ha” – “maybe it was a mist-ake to come today , he he.”
We know how to deal with fog – we are from Toowoomba after all. Let’s just pop into a coffee shop at the next village and it will burn off while we sip our lattes. Good plan. Village found, check, coffee shop found, check, car park? We’ve learned the Irish parking rules by now and know that, if you see anything that looks like a parking space on either side of the road near your destination, you ignore the no parking signs and the oncoming tractors and dive into it. We congratulate ourselves on finally finding car park, coffee, tea and apple pie and sit to watch the fog lift.
The fog has been here before and isn’t going to be told what to do by four “blow ins” as the locals call strangers. We eventually climb back into the Ford, convincing ourselves that “it looks a lot lighter now.” As you will see from the photos, the fog had in fact lifted a bit, and only remains at spots like the one claiming “the most spectacular cliff view in Ireland” and the other one claiming “the most photographed view in Ireland”.
We stop at both places to look at and photograph, well, fog. It is a bit of a surprise that we have to pay to see the non-view at the first of these. We follow a series of very official brown road signs that eventually lead us to the site of said “most spectacular cliff view” and arrive at a shop cum parking lot. There are further signs threatening that anyone who doesn’t pay the four euro entry fee will be thrown off the cliffs so we pay up. (When we recount this to our B&B hosts later this evening they nod at each other and just say “Kerrymen – tey be like tat.”)
Anyway, back to the cliffs. We follow a gravel path that disappears up the hill into the mist, expecting at any moment to plunge into an unseen abyss. Fortunately, there is a secure looking fence at the end of the path, and even more fortunately the mist swirls in and out enough for us to get views of the rocks and water below. We imagine the vista of rugged cliffs and the Skellig islands below and then head back to the car.
Our remaining impressions of the Ring of Kerry are of little villages and bumpy winding roads. We don’t meet any tourist buses on the road, but each village seems to have at least four of them disgorging their cargo of eager spenders into the tourist shops. We decide to head for our B&B. After a few disagreements with the GPS about the best route, the GPS wins and we wend our way through some rather challenging byways (no real highways today) to the little town of Mitchelston. We meet our hosts and check into the converted stable that will be our home for the night. It’s actually pretty flash accommodation, and there’s no fog.