Saturday, June 25, 2022

Irish and English Travels

We dropped back into Utah last night after three weeks in Ireland and southern England.  Today is the first day I've used a desktop computer in three weeks.  It was a wonderful break!  I even tried to avoid using e-mail and removed my e-mail apps from my phone and tablet before going, but as soon as we got to Amsterdam our flight to Dublin was cancelled and they said "for updated travel information, check your e-mail."  So the first thing I did in Europe was install Outlook.  Lol.  

Ireland was simply wonderful.  I had no idea what a lovely country it is. Although it lacks big mountains, the hills and coastlines are rugged and beautiful.  It was cool and showery too, which we absolutely loved.  I think the highest temperature we saw there was about 21˚C when we were in Belfast.  The rest of the time it was sweater and shell weather. I can't tell you how good it felt.  

We did a full circumnavigation of the island, doing lots of short hikes and enjoying Irish food and beer.  We then spent a few days in London and southern England before returning.  Here's a longer than needed tour.  

This is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the north coast.  It's a short hike and requires a fee.  I'm sure it is a massive tourist trap, but we get up early and it was raining and we had the place to ourselves.  Fantastic!

Giant's Causeway is a geological formation on the north coast, also very touristy, but pretty cool.  We parked in a far lot and did a nice circle hike through it.

In Belfast and Derry we did some historical touring to try and understand Ireland's history and, more recently, The Troubles.  This is a Peace Wall mural in Belfast honoring those killed by the British and Loyalists during the Troubles.  Others honor Loyalists killed.  About 3,500 people died during The Troubles.  I still have more to learn.  

One of our favorite regions was County Donegal.  We saw few people here.  We did a short hike up the "Poisoned Glen."  The source of the name is unclear, but could be a mistranslation.  For the rock climbers, the mountains in the distance house Ireland's largest rock face, the Beamas Buttress.  It's a wet walk to get there.  

Dunlewey Church (abandoned) at the head of the Poisoned Glen.  Scenes like this are everywhere. 

When we started our hike to Slieve League, it was pouring and the wind was blowing hard.  We were in full rain gear.  As we approached the overlook, the clouds parted and we got this incredible view.  These are the among the highest sea cliffs in Europe.  Can you see the orographic cloud?

It is possible to hike out along the Slieve League Ridge, but my foot was still giving me trouble so we did a shorter hike up to One Man's Pass.  What scenery!

Near the summit of Silver Hill in Connemara National Park.

The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's more popular natural wonders.  There is a crowded visitor center near there highest point, but we hiked in from Hag's head to the south, which given our early start was pretty quiet (it was busier when we returned).

One of our favorite areas was the Dingle Peninsula.  This was taken near Clougher Head.

Also on the Dingle Peninsula is the Brandon Group Mountain Range.  We did a short hike from Connor Pass to enjoy the vistas.  Yeah, it was green.  I believe that Brandon Peak is right of center in this photo.

One day as we were driving along we saw a sign for the Gap of Dunloe.  I had seen it previously on a map and said we should check it out.  The thing about Ireland is you never know what the roads are going to be like.  Turns out, the road is one lane, has two way traffic, and is traveled by hikers, bikers, horses, horse-drawn carriages, etc.  It was, however, late in the day and we largely had the place to ourselves.  The hills here have an incredible ancient feel.

Above is the view of the Gap of Dunloe from Molls Gap.  The mountains to the left of the gap are the highest in Ireland at a bit over 1000 meters.  My foot was not ready for an ascent on this trip, but I would like to return and hike them.  

We made the obligatory stop at the Blarney Castle, which houses the Blarney Stone.  We enjoyed the grounds but skipped kissing the Blarney Stone as it was an hour-long line and I've never really been into that sort of thing.  The next day we went to the Rock of Cashel, pictured above, which was far more impressive than Blarney Castle.  

We flew across the Irish Sea to London for a few days.  Yes, we did this.  I am a closet Harry Potter film. We had a great time.

On our last touring day in England, we made an unplanned stop in Salisbury and decided to check out the Cathedral there.  Amazing.  Construction started in 1200.  The main spire is 404 feet high and was built in the early 1300s.  It is the tallest medieval structure in England.  

But, it gets better.  They have a weather station on the spire.  I understand there's a weather station on Mt. Everest, but this was incredibly cool.  An anemometer on an 800 year old, 400 foot high spire!  And it's no easy feat getting up there.  It's incredible to think about building such a structure back in the 1300s.

And it gets even better than that.  As we were exiting the cathedral, one of the cathedral workers asked if we would like to see the library.  I was going to say no, but somehow we decided to check it out.  In it, they had a Nocolas Copernicus' De revolution iorbium coelestium, 3rd edition, published in 1617, shortly after it would have been placed on the Catholic Church's Index of Prohibited books (see  The first edition was published in 1542.

Thanks for entertaining my travel blogging.  I'll be attending the Mountain Meteorology Conference in Park City next week, so blogging may continue to be light for a while longer.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Blog Break

It's been a long 2+ years since the start of the pandemic.  I'm taking some downtime for the next few weeks.  Blogging will be very light to non-existent.  Enjoy the first month plus of meteorological summer.