This year I went to Santorini on a yoga retreat with The Power Yoga company and absolutely loved it. I decided after that week that holidays are a great way to incorporate a little fun into your fitness routine. Unfortunately no more sunshine holidays loomed in my diary……..a two week stint in Ireland however was on the cards.
I am lucky enough to have two Irish parents from Co. Kerry on the South West coast and a boyfriend who comes from Co. Kildare (neighbouring county of Dublin) so visiting is made that bit easier. We decided that this summer we would do a bit more exploring and see more of Ireland. There is so much of the country we hadn’t seen and so many things on my to do list that spending two weeks in the middle of August seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I also wanted to keep active and get some outdoor sport into the mix!! Now Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world but the weather is very unpredictable – you just have to embrace the wind and the rain and appreciate the sunshine when it comes out.
Our first stop was Strandhill in Sligo. We rounded up a big group of friends to head down for a night – the plan was to spend a night socialising and hit the waves the next day. We (unintentionally) coincided our surfing trip with the Warrior Festival which is effectively a 15km run up a MAHOOOOOSIVE hill. So naturally the town was buzzing! It buzzed so much I may have “over enjoyed myself” – but who can blame me! We had a great group of people, live music and lots of drink. Jumping into the wild Atlantic sea the next morning was a great way to clear the head.
We rented boards and wetsuits from Strandhill Surf School and headed out into the ocean. I was a bit apprehensive considering it felt like the middle of winter. The sky was pretty gloomy and the air was drizzly. However, the second I got into the ocean I felt nothing. The wetsuits were UNREAL.
Our next trip was with the family to Co Clare. This is a part of Ireland I had never been to so I was mega excited to see the Cliffs of Moher and my god they didn’t disappoint. They truly are a beautiful and raw site. The wind howls in your ears and blows water up from hundreds of meters below. I wasn’t brave enough to stand on the edge (I felt like shouting at the people who did – Mother Nature takes no prisoners!) but the walk around the cliffs is great and a perfect afternoon out. Wrap up warm, put on a rain mac and get up close and personal with the west coast.
Clare is also home to Lahinch beach which is pretty famous for surfing so we HAD to give it a go (check out this post on a little thing called Aillen’s wave to truly understand how good the west coast of Ireland is for surfing). The waves here were so impressive – one good point about having stormy crazy weather is that it makes for perfect surfing conditions. Surfing part II and I could actually stand up (probably because there was no booze the night before……whoooops) and loved spending loads of time in the water, protected by the wetsuit. We then reheated and refuelled in a really cute, authentic place called Joes Café. I loved this place – the menu is full of vegetarian and vegan options and great HOT coffee.
Next on the to do list was horse riding. Now I’ve been on a horse a handful of times. I can trot comfortably but that is about it. Donal’s neice is a 6 year old pro and so we all went out trekking together which she loved. She is of a really good standard and her mum and aunty would be experienced riders too!! Sooooo naturally myself and The Boy called our bluff and decided that we were the same level too. Hey – if they can do it why not us.
We went to Mountain View Horse riding and got tacked up and ready to go out on the trail. The Boy looked pretty nervous (although he probably wouldn’t admit it) and proceeded to have full blown conversations with his horse over the two hour trek. The trek was absolutely brilliant – we got loads of trots in, went through forests and ever CANTERED!!! It was honestly such a rush to canter on the horse (for the first time) through really narrow forest trails and up hills that gave such impressive views of the coast. The body was pretty sore after using muscles that weren’t used to being awake but it was so worth it. Unfortunately my go pro ran out of memory just as we hit the good bits of the trails so you will have to go and experience it for yourself!
I had the best two weeks in Ireland, visiting friends, family and getting out into the fresh air that this blog post could be twice as long. We did so much more including Bunratty Castle, dinner in the seaside town of Bray, faced fears at a wild bird show and explored the Ailwee caves that I couldn’t possibly write about it all. I will never truly stop exploring this island and will definitely be back next year for more fresh air, hiking and adventure.
Ireland is so so close and accessible to London and it is full of things to do whatever the weather. Don’t go there for the sunshine – you don’t need it.
For more information on how to plan your active trip in Ireland please please contact me because I would love to pass on tips and advice. Alternatively you can check out the below links!