• Autumn reflections.

    As Summer turns to Autumn the natural world slows and the preparation for Winter begins. Farmers fill their barns with crops, animals gather and store food for the oncoming winter and trees begin to shed their leaves. This year, as summer passes, I too find myself taking stock. When I set-up Beyond the Glass Adventure Tours, I had the ambition to take people into the Irish outdoors to enjoy the wild beauty and natural wonder that Ireland has to offer and to immerse visitors in the history and culture of Ireland.
    Joining a Beyond the Glass Adventure Tour is a journey into the outdoors, where you will go ‘beyond the glass’ to spectacular off the beaten track locations. You will enjoy activities in breathtakingly beautiful locations along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. On our tours most of the time is spent in the outdoors, be it by the ocean, on a mountainside, on a forest trail or in a National park. The activities are pursuits almost everybody can enjoy – hiking, cycling and boat trips.
    When you take part in a Beyond the Glass Adventure Tour you soon get into a nice rhythm. Each morning after enjoying a leisurely breakfast there is the day’s activity, such as a coastal walk, a mountain hike or a cycle through one of Ireland’s National Parks. This is followed by lunch and a visit to one of the Wild Atlantic Ways signature discovery points, which include castles and other historic sites. Each day includes a drive or a boat trip through magnificent scenery. In the evenings there is time to enjoy local food, a Guinness and traditional Irish music, before you retire for the night to rest for the next day’s adventure.
    Our tours can be an antidote to the busyness of today’s world; although they do not completely avoid it, you will come to some busier places where you will encounter tourist vying to take selfies. But the tours are designed to maximise time spent outside, give the richest experience of Ireland and take place in off the beaten track locations.
    Importantly, while participating on our tours there are no penalties for taking your time. If you move slower and end up at the back of the group; this gives you the landscape to yourself and more time to soak up the views. If a person is delayed getting to the tour vehicle or a boat does not leave at exactly the correct time, It’s no problem, it Irish time, it’s your vacation time. An example of this occurred during day 7 of a 2019 8 Day adventure tour. The day began with an hour’s drive from Roundstone to Connemara National Park. While on the drive and within a few miles of our destination we came upon a traffic jam (A traffic jam deep in Connemara on a Sunday morning is not a regular occurrence). We soon learned the cause of the traffic jam was a minor car accident. There was no one injured but before we could progress the cars had to be cleared from the road, which we were told would take 15 minutes. Our wait ended up being closer to 2 hours. I wanted this day, like all days of the tour, to run smoothly and the participants not to be inconvenienced. I was a little concerned about the impact of the delay, but I had no need to worry. Yes, there was slight impatience and occasionally I was asked how long more the wait would be, but in the main everyone was relaxed. During the wait some chatted with locals who were also caught up in the traffic jam, some took a nap in the bus and others walked the roads and enjoyed the colourful hedgerows. By now the participants had spent 6 days on vacation in the outdoors and were more in tune with the rhythms of nature rather than man made clocks. They were not put out, It was another experience on their journey through outdoor Ireland. After we got moving the day continued with a slightly altered plan.

    We live in a time when the speed of life seems to have changed, shifted-up through the gears to super quick. It can feel frantic with ever changing work targets, news feeds that change hourly and Instagram changing by the second. Constantly evolving technology can feel unavoidable as its incorporated into our lives. But we can go ‘beyond the glass’ of the office PC, the office window and the screen of our device and step outside to spend time in nature. Time in nature can be a grounding experience and allow us to sync with the rhythm of the natural world, where the earth still takes 24 hours to complete one revolution and ~365 days to circle the Sun, and the lunar cycle continues to cause the ebb and flow of the tides. Perhaps with each venture to the outdoors we may gain a little more awareness and when we return to our busy worlds, we may move a little slower and steadier. Each Beyond the Glass Adventure Tour is a unique venture into the wilds of Ireland. Maybe you will come join me on one of these adventures soon?

  • Roundstone to Westport – Day 7 and Day 8 of our 8 Day Adventure Holiday on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

    Have you ever been away in a beautiful location for a period of time and you begin to take where you are for granted? When I am leading tours and spend extended periods of time in the outdoors there are times when I begin to take where I am for granted. Then I cycle around the next headland or hike over the next horizon and I am greeted by a view which stops me in my tracks and brings me right back to the current moment.

    My world your world

    An 8 Day Adventure Holiday on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, with its spectacular scenery combined with the ever changing light from the ever changing weather, is full of such re-grounding moments. I had one of these moments as I guided the tour group up Errisbeg on Sunday morning.

    Errisbeg Mountain

    Errisbeg is a mountain in miniature, for a 300-meter-high mountain it packs a mighty punch. It is rugged, has steep rock faces, hidden lakes and it even has four summits. From the summits there are panoramic breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean, the fishtail beaches of Gorteen and Dogs bay, the countless lakes and bog lands of Connemara and beyond this are the higher nobler mountain ranges of the Maum Turks and the Twelve Bens. The tour group hiked to the top of the mountain with a small amount of effort. The few passing rain showers that fell did not dampen the groups spirits in anyway. This was a fantastic way to start day 7 of the 8 day Adventure Holiday on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

    Views in all directions on errisbeg mountain

    After the hike we got back on the tour bus and continued west through Ballyconneely and passed the Coral Beach at Mannin Bay. The next stop was at Derrigmlagh Bog which is the site of Marconi’s first permanent transatlantic radio station and the landing site for the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight by Alcock and Brown. Here we enjoyed the gentle 5 Km walk with interpretive points along the way. At one of the interpretive points we learned the calling sounds of some of the birds in the region. This resulted in plenty discussion among the group and we attempted to identify the skylarks and meadow pipets call as we completed the walk.

    We continued our Adventure Holiday on through Clifden and took the N59 northwards on the Connemarra loop. We stopped in the lovely village of Letterfrack for lunch and browsed around the village craft shops. The next stop was at the picturesque village of Leenane, which sits at the head of Ireland’s only true Fjord, Killary Harbour. Leenane has been used for the location of some great films down through the years and when you visit it and see its scenic location you can understand exactly why.

    Aasleagh falls outside Leenane

    Leaving Leenane, the tour settled in for the final leg of the day as we travelled towards Westport. Crossing into county Mayo we visited Aasleagh waterfall and the Doo lough Pass. We took a quiet moment by the shore of Doo lough, and here I recalled the memory of the fallen victims of the Potato famine, particularly the victims who tragically died on the infamous March of 1849 from Louisburgh to Delphi lodge, where they were refused aid from the English landlord.

    National Famine Monument with Croagh Patrick in the background

    We spent the night in the town of Westport. Here there are many good quality restaurants to eat and some great Irish pubs to have a pint, and we did exactly that.

    On the final morning of the 8 Day Adventure Tour we started the day with a hearty breakfast in our Westport bed and breakfast. We then travelled to Newport where we enjoyed a wonderful cycle on the great western greenway to Mulranny. The last stop of the tour was Mulranny beach and salt flats where we had a gentle walk. We were blessed to be the only ones on the beach. There was an air of calm with the mixed song of the ocean, bleating sheep and singing birds. A suitable end to a magnificent 8 Day Adventure Tour on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

    Mulranny Beach

    Peace of the West -Video

  • 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