It has been a while again since we wrote the last blog. We are not at all up to date, nevertheless we keep on updating! To memorise our stories for ourselves and for you, the ones that are interested in reading them.
In the last blog post we crossed the unspectacular border between the UK and Ireland. As we entered a new country, wild camping was suddenly something exciting again. While it is legally not allowed in Ireland to wild camp, we were more careful compared to wild & free Scotland – where we pitched up our tent anywhere. Donegal, the most Northern province of Ireland, showed us beautiful coastal landscapes. And as the first night arrived, we found a beautiful camp spot at the beach. As we were not so confident yet, we knocked on the door of the closest house… read the description of the Instagram post below to find out what happened!
Cycling in Ireland was different compared to the UK in many aspects, we found out in the first few days. There were not many supermarkets around, the ones existing were part of gas stations. So, we often found ourselves ‘shopping’ at a gas station. The good thing was, they sold ‘soda bread’ in 99% of the cases. And this bread was much better compared to the ‘toast’ which is sold in the UK.
Another thing we found, was the extreme STEEP hills in Ireland. The UK was easy peasy compared to this. Scotland might have been higher, but the slopes were very reasonable. Ireland was something else. Especially in the province Sligo, we fought ourselves up the mountains every 30 minutes. Because yes, it was up-down-up-down-up-down-up-… all day long! The legs did certainly hurt, and yes; we did complain sometimes. But luckily the first few rainy days were over. And look at the views… (see post below). Worth it!
In the UK with had many conversations every day. This seemed to be different in Ireland. That in combination with the amount inaccessible farm fields made it hard to find a spot to wild camp sometimes. But we learned, once you ask people for help, they often do help you! So, we camped in people their garden / farm fields a few times in the province Sligo. And another day; when we were preparing a coffee on a huge beach, a couple came to us. A tall man and a woman. The man came closer and was obviously Dutch, as he saw Chloé her NL froggi&co number plate, he started talking to us. 1.5 hours later we arrived at their house by bike, a small detour from our initial route, but what a great evening together. They cooked delicious food for us, offered us a bed and as we were both a ‘mixed culture couple’ we had lots to talk about. The next morning, we left with ‘stroopwafels’ and ‘hagelslag’ in our bike bags!
After a few days of sunny weather, a storm arrived in Ireland. It was the beginning of August 2022 and most of Europe was dealing with an extreme heatwave. Except us. Day number 90, the 1st of August, we woke up in our tent close to an old Abbey (see last photos of the post below) at 6 a clock in the morning. The alarm was set early because we knew the weather would be bad. After checking many weather apps, we decided to book a hostel. As Ireland is not densely populated and we did not want to spend too much money, we booked a hostel with good reviews 75 kilometres away.
The day started with lots of wind. But we managed to arrive at ‘Down Patrick’s Head’ before lunch. It was amazing, the cliffs, the rocks, the windy atmosphere, and the moss which looked like little green pillows. After this highlight, the weather got worse and worse. It started raining, we luckily could eat our lunch in a museum we passed. Once we left again, it was still raining, and the wind was stronger. But as we cycled many kilometres in the morning, there were ‘only’ 25 kilometres left. So, stupid as we were, we continued without rain pants. Because as every cyclist knows, uphill and with headwind, rain pants are just too hot! Bad decision, very bad decision, we were completely soaked once we arrived at the hostel (and completely done!!!). Luckily the owner (German women) was very friendly and gave us lots of towels. That evening we sat at the fire while it continued storming outside. At least we made the good decision of booking the hostel that day… next time we will put our rain pants on as well 😉.
The next day the weather was still very bad, but we celebrated our 6th year anniversary. In the afternoon we stopped at a pub to drink a Guinness to celebrate! After, we were unsure about where to sleep in the evening. The forecast showed lots of water, lots of wind… We cycled out of the village, leaving civilisation behind. But at the edge of the village, we suddenly saw a farm. We decided to try and knocked on the door. A friendly young man opened. We explained our travel and our search for a sheltered place for our tent. He directly helped and said, wait there for 10 minutes, I’ll finish my dinner first, but you can sleep in the shed. That evening, we slept in our inner tent under the roof of the farmers shed. And to keep us warm, we got some of his self-brewed alcohol.
In the next blog we will continue with our stories from Ireland…