Grand Tour, Week 4, Ireland and South Wales, 29 May - 4 June 2022

Having spent the night much further away along the Ring of Kerry from Kenmare meant we had a long drive in the morning - along the south coast of the peninsular, 'round the corner' and onto the Beara Peninsular. Breaking the journey up we visited 2 stone circles - the first one being the Uragh Stone Circle and the second being the Ardgroom Stone Circle. Both were lovely, the first for it's settting and the second for it's well preserved tall stones. At the former there was plenty of Great Butterwort, Heath Bedstraw and Round-leaved Sundew. Crossing the peninsuar to the south side we headed for our overnight campsite at Castletownbere Golf Club. What a massive mistake booking that turned out to be - the gold course was fine but the check-in appalling and then we found ourselves surrounded by pikeys on the small site with kids running amok and even smashing a glass bottle right next to our van. It was like living in one of the 'my big fat gypsy...' documentories! Needless to say we didn't stay even though we needed the electricity. Instead we moved to the nearby town of Castletownbere and had a great night on a new carpark with designated free motorhome spaces a short walk into town for food. I even spotted the bar made famous on the cover of the Book MaCarthy's Bar - completely randomly!


30th May - and a tour of the peninsular driving the quite hairy Ring of Beara (far harder than the Ring of Kerry!).  Sightings other than scenery were few and far between but at one spot the display of Irish Marsh Orchids and Heath Spotted Orchids (and hybrids) was fantastic. Sheeps-bit, Black Spleenwort and 2 Chough were also seen but my eyes were mainly on the road! 


We gradually moved east the following day from our campsite near Bantry. Stopping to visit the impressive Bantry House in the morning was very nice but we expected a little more for our money as large parts of the house were not open to the public. Nearby I found Remote Sedge and Lesser Swinecress. Further east we detoured to the harbour town of Kinsale with it's colourful buildings but have to say we left disappointed and wishing we hadn't bothered. It was very touristy. Instead of lingering we struck on and finished our day in the much more down to earth town of Youghal. With a nice seafront 'wild' camp in a row of other vans we managed a good walk into town long the seafront and an evening bbq on the prom opposite the van. On the walk I found naturalised Hedge Veronica (Hebe), Tree Mallow, Rock Sea Spurrey and Sea Rocket


Our last full day on the 'Emerald Isle' saw us heading through Co.Waterford towards Rosslare for an early ferry the following morning. With loads of time to spare we stopped in the Forth Commons area of Wexford about 25km short of Rosslare and found a random nice spot to camp by the entrance to a woodland ride. We thoruoghly explored the area in the afternoon/evening, walking several trails, one with great views of the south Wexford coast all the way down to Tacumshin and the Saltee Islands. Sightings included surprise Prickly Heath, Compact Rush, Cuckoo, Coal Tit and another Great Spotted Woodpecker.


2 June - ferry crossing day and time to leave Ireland behind. As it slipped away over the horizon I turned my habnd to some seawatching from the ferry. It was really good with Minke Whale, 2 Harbour Porpoises, c30 Common Dolphins, 300+ Manx Shearwaters, 2 Fulmars, several Razorbills, loads of Guillemots, Sandwich Tern and c6 Kittiwakes. Back at Fishguard by late morning we checked into our campsite on Dinas 'Island' early and walked the area around the coast to the east at Fforest. Here I was delighted to find Pencilled Cranesbill in some damp woodland plus 2 late Early Purple Orchids, Sanicle, Wood Avens and a Wall Brown. Later that evening a walk from the campsite in some spectacular coastal scenery gave me another new plant - Slender St John's Wort with Navelwort literally everywhere.


Dragging ourselves away from our lovely scenic campsite we headed east through the Pembrokeshire countryside to our main port of call of the day - the small harbour town of Laugharne. The reason? I'm a massive Dylan Thomas fan and he lived and wrote here. The town of Llaregub in Under Milk Wood is based on Laugharne. Visiting his house The Boathouse and his writing shed was an absolute delight - with it being blissfully quiet of visitors too. Little Robin, Monkshood, Seal Kale and Sea Milkwort were also a bonus! We reluctantly left and continued drving east. Stopping briefly (as it was very busy and nowhere to park the van) at Porthkerry CP near Barry I duly found my target plant of Purple Gromwell with some great directions from Lee Gregory. That night, our last was at a 'park 4 night' spot in the Vale of Glamorgan.


Apart from a stop in the Welsh valleys for one more plant - the gorgeous Wood Bitter Vetch (another special from Lee!) the next day was a long one driving home and back to real life!


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