The UK & Ireland
|United Kingdom & Ireland: Stage two is in the
books! Hard to believe that we've been traveling for two months now! Only ten more left!
Just as with our time in Iceland, this portion held many changed plans and spur of the moment decisions. Our UK portion changed into pretty much just time in Scotland. We spent just one day in London before fleeing the record setting temperatures, and running north to Glasgow, Scotland. We based out of a small town called Mauchline, while staying with Davy and Liz Wilson ( close friends of the Cupples). Davy and Liz treated us like royalty and we're convinced that we gained another ten lbs while there! So here’s the rundown of events in the UK and Ireland...
*While at the Wilson's: We walked and cycled a good bit of the immediate area including a visit to Corrie's childhood home of 1 1/2 years (Catrine - the town where the Cupples worked with Teen Missions). We also made a day trip to the Isle of Arran, where we hiked Goatfell Mtn. It was a delightful experience with some great views. The Wilson's adore Garden Centers, which are the equivalent of glorified plant nurseries, complete with tea rooms and delicious cakes, and so we got to see several of these!
*West Highland Way: This trail consists of 95 miles of scenic walking through glens, moores, forest, along lakes and rivers, through tiny villages and over ridges and passes. Caleb and Jonathan hiked this trail in 1999, but Jonathan remembered only a small portion of the sights as they blitzed through it in "youthful ambition," finishing in five days. This time we took an extra day and tried our best to soak in the sights through the pain of sore feet, blisters and tired joints. Each day was different and the terrain/scenery seemed to change with each step. Every morning was a decision as the whether we would continue or run as fast as we could to the nearest train station! Happily we finished and a ripe batch of raspberry bushes greeted us at the trail's end!
*Night one: Belfast didn't interest us (other than the gay pride parade!), Dublin was completely full with weekend holidayers, so we ended up in Limerick at 11:45pm without a place to sleep. Lucky for us, a friendly, slightly drunk Irishman came to our rescue and showed us where to climb a fence or two and spend a peaceful night in a locked park (never mind the fact that it was locked exactly for people like us)!
*Killarney: We spent a couple days having a look around the National Park and hiking the famous Gap of Dunloe - particularly overrun with horses and jaunting carts! Still quite beautiful though!
*Bantry: Wwoofing again! The "farm" is called "Joint Adventure," and is actually owned by a Dutch couple (Bert and Didi), who just moved here and are working to become self sufficient. So we spent most of the time turning over ground and preparing vegetables beds (not so easy in their clayish, rocky soil!). Anyhow, the house is set on the side of a hill in the township of Coomleagh and the view in all directions was marvelous! This area of the country is very rugged and beautiful. We got to tag along and see lots of small places that are hidden away, and quite enchanting! We also went with the neighbors one night to watch one of them participate in a traditional music session. This was one of our favorite experiences along with an afternoon of biking through the country side.
*Cork and Dublin: Before leaving Ireland, we spent a day in each of these cities, wandering about and visiting some of the historic attractions. Also, sadly, in Cork, our camera was lost or stolen, who really knows. But whatever the case, that is the reason why there are no pictures of Bantry and the farm. Oops! Although cities are not our favorite places to go, we both love to watch people, and these places are perfect for such an activity! Basically, we walked a lot rather than spending our entire savings on museums!