Saturday, September 17, 2016

Portmagee visit by bicycle

Knightstown from the pontoons
So what do you do when a gale is forecast? You assemble your bicycles for a land trip. The morning was relatively nice and there was no gale in evidence, although the forecast was clearly not great. So we got underway soon after breakfast along the coast road to check out Portmagee.



It was a beautiful lane with lovely homes, little traffic, and amazing displays of mombretia and other wildflowers in full bloom. It was ten miles from Knightstown to Portmagee, and fortunately most of the road was flat but the wind was building and against us.

Once across the bridge which used to open but no longer does, we got off our bikes and walked the town. We skipped the Skelligs Experience interpretive centre as there were many tour buses lined up outside.

We were hoping to book a trip to the Skelligs on the day after, but every one of the boats had been solidly booked out for the entire season. They said we could show up on the morning a couple of hours in advance because they usually had cancellations.They don't charge up front so everyone books multiple dates and picks the one with the best weather. They really should change that system.  That morning they had ten no shows. For us to get there at that hour of the morning by bike or taxi would have been a pain. We decided we'd come by car next season. The next bookings are for May of 2017. Eoin Walsh and Bendan Casey seem to be popular tour guides. We'll see.

The town has a little shop with a big butcher's fridge in the back. They supply all kinds of frozen meats. The pubs serve food but we opted for the Skellig Mist cafe with seating outside both front and back. They have awesome breads and pastries there. The woman who owns it is Ireland's first female pastry chef. We had lovely crab and BBQ salmon (what we'd call hot smoked salmon) sandwiches on delicious brown bread overlooking the harbour.

We bought strudel and a banana chocolate brownie for dessert on the way back. We slowly made our way along the same route in reverse. The wind was really starting to blow and I almost got blown off the bike when crossing the bridge. But when we turned toward Knightstown the wind was at our backs making the trip back easier than the trip out.

There were lots of opportunities for photos of beautiful scenery. We stopped at a picnic bench overlooking the sound about 3/4 way back. Then we explored the transatlantic cable crossing memorial and an interesting block of buildings near Knightstown that must have been the signal station.

In Knightstown we drove up to the top of the street and into the church grounds where we learned that the meditation garden was designed by Earnest Shackelton. Fuscia, the restaurant where we ate the last time, was gone but Walshes shop is there, sweet and tiny.

We decided to head back to Aleria just as black clouds appeared on the horizon. We stowed the bikes just in time. Gale force winds and riving rain kept everyone inside for the rest of the day.

It let up a little around 7 pm so we decided to have dinner at the Royal Valentia Hotel. It was hopping. Not quite completely jammed but almost. We got one of the last tables. There were no burgers on the menu so we had fish and chips and a viogner blend. By the time we left, there was not a seat in the house and people were hovering over our table as we prepared to leave.

We spent the night reading again, and prepared to head out to the Blaskets in the morning. We were hoping to spend the next night in the anchorage there if it was settled enough.


Kids playing all day

Memorial to the transatlantic cable 

Whimsical sculpture

Stunning mombretia display

The bridge from the Knightstown road

Portmagee from the bridge

The waterfront at Portmagee

This sounds like great fun!

Fishing fleet at Portmagee
A boat mold
The pontoons at Knightstown

Church near the cable station

View toward the pontoon

Transatlantic cable station

Trannsatlantic Cable crossing point
A boat works 

There was no chandlery

Pubs along the waterfront

Anchor from a ship that sank off the coast here

A capstan

Pretty houses
The food store in Portmagee

Well stocked with a butcher's meat locker


Thge counters at Skellig Mist Cafe

The patio at Skellig Mist

Lunch at Skellig Mist

Valentia Marine is no more

Almost back to Knightstown

Lovely cascade for the creek

Picnic stop in the park 

The fire engine preserved

The Royal Valentia Hotel

A few places to eat in town

The main street in Knightstown

Church near the transatlantic cable stop

The iconic clock 

The first section of pier 

Knightstown from the docks

The Royal Valentia Hotel

A little whiskey to start

Miserable weather in the end



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