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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Slea Head Drive on Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

If something is super-fantastic, amazing, and really great, then it must be really hard to get, right?  For example, when we go into nature, the best views are reserved for those of us who hike the longest and the highest.  Well, Slea Head Drive, along the coast of Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, didn't get the memo.  Some of the most beautiful views I've seen anywhere are there for the taking.  Just hop in the car and cruise along the coast.  I shouldn't even be saying this, because I imagine it won't be too long before that road becomes one long traffic jam.

We were going to do a hike that day, but before we started out toward the mountain, our B&B hostess said it would be cloudy up there, even though it was sunny elsewhere.  As we drove towards it, we could see she was right, the top was enveloped in clouds.  At the same time, everywhere else had precious, bright, sunshine!  It was one of only two days of our ten-day trip with full sun.  So, we turned around and headed for this other spot one of the locals at the B&B had recommended.

The scene below was just below the narrow cliff top road.  We stopped and walked a bit down from the road to check this out. It probably wasn't the safest place to take a walk, but here we are, so it's all good. 

When we saw this peninsula, we parked and took about an hour-long walk.  After fifteen minutes of walking, you get out of sight of the road and away from most of the people.  Then, all you hear is the wind in the grass, the surf, and the seagulls.  New Zealand has more sheep than people.  I wonder if Ireland does too.

Nice view from the top of the hill.  We walked all the way down to the furthest point of the land in the center of the photo.  There were only a few people down there, and most of them laying back on the rocky slope, a bit down from the top to get out of the wind, and taking a nap with the sun on their faces.  

The view once we were down at the bottom.  The brilliant emerald island is the same one seen in the previous photo.  The sun was shining a spotlight on it through a gap in the clouds.  The rocks in the foreground of this photo are that tip of land in the photo above.  I can still feel how much I loved being in this incredibly beautiful, peaceful place.  Spontaneous joy welling up doesn't happen too often.  This unexpected gem did it to me.  

I loved just watching the water churn on the rocks.  The aquamarine color comes from air bubbles pulled under the dark blue water every time it rolls up the sharp rocks and slides back down.  

I really didn't want to leave.  You can tell, because I'm still standing there taking pictures while Jennifer is flying up the hillside without me!  Of course, we'd never get anywhere if she didn't do that, because I'd always be stopping.  I wish we'd stayed at least a little longer.  A bit of a cockeyed panorama, but it conveys what a narrow, steep strip of land we were on.  

We thought that after that spot, the rest of the drive would pale in comparison, but there was more.  I'd still say the spot above was my favorite, but this place was incredible too.  After walking away from the road, down to the cliffs, we had the whole place to ourselves.  Jennifer just sat down and watched waves crash and listened to the gulls cry while I ran around worrying about photography.  Yes, photography can be a curse in situations like this.  

A little closer up view of the cliffs on the left in the photo above.  The rock looks a bit reddish because, well, because it is.  The area on top looks like another golf course.

This is the view across the valley, with those cliffs on the left.  The three humps in the middle are steep cliffs on the far side.  They're called The Three Sisters.  

This is the fifth and final part of a series on our trip Ireland.

Chapter 1: an unexpected close-up visit with a dolphin. 

Chapter 2: The next has photos from the spectacular seaside cliffs of Mizen Head. 

Chapter 3: Another describes our hike around Lamb's Head, at the tip of the Beara Peninsula, in County Cork. 

Chapter 4: Connemara National Park, Cliffs of Moher, and Achill Island.

[Note: If the photos are too big for your screen, you can click on one of them for a slide show view.]

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