• Day 6 – The Aran Islands and the Connemara Coast

    The following is a brief description of day 6 of our 8 Day Wild Atlantic Way Tour taken this May 2018.

    We began the adventure tour traveling west from Galway into Connemara. For the entire mornings journey the Atlantic waters of Galway Bay were on our left and beyond the Bay was the Burren of Co. Clare. As we travelled into Ireland’s west there was a noticeable change in the landscape, the fields were smaller and less arable but the scenery grew in its splendour. We had our first stop in the lovely village of Spiddal, for a stroll on the Pier and a look around Spiddal Craft Village.

    Ready for a great day ahead.

    From Spiddal we continued on deeper into the wild Connemara landscape as far as Rossaveel where we boarded the ferry to Inis Mor – the Largest of The Aran Islands. During the 40-minute crossing the ferry was escorted by the Gulls, Cormorants and other sea birds that are abundant in this area. We disembarked the ferry on Inis Mor, got on our bikes and took the road west on our Cycle Tour towards the fort of Dun Aengus. Very quickly we were alone on quiet country roads where we passed thatched cottages, deserted villages and religious ruins. It was a relaxing cycle with plenty time to take in the views.
    Thatched Cottage on Inis Mor

    Dun Aengus is an Ancient stone-built fort. It was first constructed around 1100BC and added to over a number of periods. The structure present today dates from the early medieval period. Anyone who visits the fort is left in awe, and this tour group were no different. The ancient fortress perched 300 feet above the sea below is magnificent. On this day we had the luck of the Irish on our side – the weather was lovely. The Sun was shining, there were blue skies and a gentle breeze blew in from the Atlantic. The Tour had plenty time to soak in the history, the views and the weather.
    Dun Aengus, Inis Mor

    After leaving Dun Aengus we went off the beaten track and took a stroll through some fields. The geology of the Aran Islands is karstic limestone similar to that which can be found in the Burren. The landscape here supports a variety of flowers that you will not find elsewhere in Ireland and are more likely to be found in Alpine areas. Today we were very lucky to spot some flowers including early flowering Orchids and Spring Gentians.
    Spring Gentians

    For the cycle back to the village of Kilronan we took the lower road via the Seal colony. On this trip we did not see any Seals, still, the views across the sea to the main land and the Connemara mountains filled our senses nicely. In Kilronan we had a relaxing lunch and a rewarding pint before getting the return ferry and jumping into the tour bus for the short drive to Roundstone. Here, we had a well-earned dinner in the lovely Vaughans Restaurant at the Roundstone House Hotel before retiring for the evening after a really rewarding day on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
    Beach on Inis Mor

  • A Beyond the Glass Adventure Tour to Snowdonia

    On this Saint Patrick’s day weekend, Beyond the Glass Adventure Tours took a group of 6 Irish lads on an adventure tour to Snowdonia in Wales. Snowdonia is less than an hour’s drive from the ferry port of Holyhead, which is only a two hour ferry journey from Dublin. This makes Snowdonia very accessible from Ireland.

    We sailed to Wales on Friday morning and the adventure started immediately. Our first stop was to the Velocity Zip Wire Centre in Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda. This was a sure way to build excitement for the three days adventure tour to come. This excitement was temporarily quietened when the boys where dangling in the air, strapped into the Zip line harness. They were about to be released on the fastest zip line in the world and the longest in Europe. Any fear that was present was quickly quenched by the rush of adrenaline that ran through each of them as they flew through the northern Wales air at speeds up to 120km per hour. The staff, the organisation and the attention to safety at the velocity centre is extremely reassuring; and the flight on the Zip wire had the group well set up for the coming days.

    Adventures in Snowdonia

    We arranged the accommodation for the weekend in the village of Llanberis. Llanberis is a scenic Welsh village which is beautifully situated at the foot of mount Snowdon and on the edge of Lake Padarn. There are several excellent bars, restaurants and outdoor shops in the Village. The locals are very helpful and being welsh they are naturally very friendly.

    Wale’s Highest Mountain

    From Llanberis on Saturday morning we set out for a hike up Snowdon, Wale’s highest mountain. The weather for the weekend was bitterly cold, with strong winds and snow flurries. When we stepped out of the bus at the Pen-y-Pass we felt the full force of the elements, even in the short space of time it took to put on our outer layer of gear our body temperatures were dropping. Everyone was happy to start moving so as to get warmed up. Despite the winter conditions there were still many groups braving the elements to tackle the mountain. We led the group of Irish on their own Paddies day parade up the Pyg track. The clouds did part on occasion so give some spectacular views down the Llanberis Pass to Llyn Peris and later over the lakes of Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw. But for much of the day the peaks were shrouded in clouds.
    Extreme care was required in the upper sections of the mountain as the path was iced-up in many places, it also got significantly colder as we gained height. With the wind chill effect the temperatures were as cold as minus 20 degree Celsius. Coming off the mountain we descended via the miners track. Now the group began to look forward to a hot drink and warming food. The clouds never moved off the famous Crib Goch ridge but as we reached the bottom of the miners track the clouds did temporarily part to reveal the impressive Snowdon peak. Just rewards for the group’s efforts of the day.

    We had the group back to Llanberis in time to watch Ireland beat England and win the Grand Slam. That evening there was much craic and few drinks had while the group celebrated the rugby win and Saint Patrick’s Day.

    Winter Hiking in Wales

    On the Sunday we had arranged for the group to go Downhill Mountain biking in a local biking centre. Unfortunately the bike Centre cancelled this at the last minute due to the late winter weather that Wales was experiencing. So early on Sunday morning we organised an alternative activity. After a late breakfast and a relaxing Sunday morning we took a beautiful walk around Padarn Lake. The path we took followed a disused railway track on its southern shore and runs beneath a canopy of trees. It follows a vintage railway track on its northern shore. As we neared the finish of the 10km hike we visited the 13th century Dolbadarn castle and the National slate museum.

    The group may have been a little tired as they returned to Ireland after their Adventure tour but they were certainly very happy. It also was a fantastic start to the 2018 season for Beyond the Glass Adventure Tours.

    A satisfied tour group, relaxing after the three day adventure tour
  • Mountains, museums and music in Ireland’s Ancient East.

    This weekend, we travelled to Waterford and Kilkenny as we continued on our mission to find the best places in Ireland to visit, to include in our upcoming season’s BEYOND THE GLASS ADVENTURE TOURS.

    We began on Saturday morning with a trip to the Comeragh Mountains. This mountain range lies in the South-East of Ireland, between Clonmel, Dungarvan and Waterford City.

    One of the most beautiful parts of the mountain range is Coumshingaun and it is here where we started our walk. Despite the rain and mist it was a very enjoyable hill walk and there were still some spectacular views and crazy skies. Coumshingaun Lake is a beauty to behold and a fine example of a glaciated corrie lake. The ridge that surrounds the lake makes for a fine Summer’s day hill walk, alas today it was shrouded in cloudsso we left that hiking adventure for another day.

    Waterford City, Ireland’s oldest city established by the Vikings, is a really great place to visit at any time of year. On Saturday night it was bustling with life. The 2018 Winterval Festival had just been launched. There were numerous markets and food stalls set up in the Viking Triangle area of the city, lovely for some stress free shopping and for grabbing a tasty burger. “Kila”, one of Ireland’s finest musical groups, played a free gig at the recently developed Apple Market. The superb music resonating in this great setting made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It was so lovely to see children, teenagers and adults alike, all enjoying the fantastic music.

    On Sunday we explored some of Kilkenny City. We called into Saint Mary’s Cathedral and took a stroll around the streets of the Marble City. In the afternoon, we visited the fantastic new Medieval Mile museum. The museum was definitely worth visiting. The church where the museum is situated has been beautifully renovated to create a wonderful space. There are many items of interest on display in the museum including Medieval coins and buttons, ornate tombstones and beautiful Celtic crosses and old letters. Together it tells the story of medieval Kilkenny very well. This museum is definitely a great addition to the city.