Monday, May 29, 2006

Gap of Dunloe & Beara Peninsula

Today's assault was on the third finger*: the Beara Peninsula. This meant passing back through Kenmare, but I did so via the long long scenic route through the Gap of Dunloe. The "Gap" section is very scenic indeed, although slow going with many pony-carts carrying tourists along the narrow roads. After that there's a very long section of aimless valley floor driving until we could exit via Moll's Gap and head down to Kenmare.

*I'm reminded of an expression I heard on the radio earlier in the week "do it now or put it on the long finger" which I assumed meant "tie a knot to the long finger to remember something for the distant future".

Although the sign-posted distances between towns are not great on the peninsula, the twisting roads seem to treble them on the odometer. Where the roads were straight and signposted for 100Kph limits there was inevitably a very slow driver accumulating a chain of frustrated followers who would trundle along looking at the sky and never pulling out to allow us to pass. I got stuck behind this same driver 3 times in the course of the day in different parts of the peninsula. The roads reminded me of the "space-filling curves" I learnt about in Pure Mathematics an age ago.

On a whim, I detoured off the "Ring of Beara" on the northern side of the peninsula to trundle along a pot-holed road to Kilcatherine Point. The headland was carpeted in all manner of squelchiflora and other squigenous material. It was very pleasant to walk over, but I discovered when I knelt down that it was also very prickly and probably not a great experience for Bondi

Rejoining the Ring, I kept thinking we were nearing the very end of the peninsula where there's a cable car rated "for 3 men and a cow" to Dursey Island. There were some truly spectacular vistas out toward the end of the island (between Eyeries & Allihies IIRC), but I thought I'd stop for photos on my return, when there was less traffic. Unfortunately I miscalculated where I was and didn't retrace these roads. I actually missed the turn off to Dursey and overshot to Castletown Bearhaven about 15 km later - none of the intervening hamlets being signposted. I finally got out to the cable car site at about 3pm, only to find that it ran very fitfully - especially on Sundays - and I'd basically missed the chance to ride it out to the island.

After that it was just a weary drive back to Castletown Bearhaven, and then up through Healy Pass and onto Kenmare, down to Killarney and thence to the farm.


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