Ashamed as I am to say it but I have travelled more in Europe than I have in Ireland! That was to change this year. Achill Island is one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever visited. A small bridge connects it to the main land but once you cross it you may as well go back 40 years in time. It seems to be caught in a time warp. I imagine its how Ireland used to be years ago. For example, if you leave the road at any time, you can be in the middle of nowhere within minutes. Sheep wander the island without barriers or worries, which makes it hard to avoid them!
The beaches are just breathtaking, in particular Keem beach. It is located at the end of the island nestled behind a cliff. The water is turquoise and the waves spill over white sand. Keel beach was ideal for surfing and I was lucky enough to snap this pic as the tide pulled away.
The highest Sea cliffs in Europe
I could not have left without viewing the highest sea cliffs in Europe! After 2 hour hike up Croaghaun Mountain, we reached 2257 ft anwere rewarded with the most incredible view at the most westerly point of Achill. The cliffs looked down on “Saddle Head”, with a corrie lake perched just below the edge. Imagine getting this far with all your camera gear and forgetting a battery? An ALL MOUNTAIN TANTRUM was had. Thankfully I had my trusty Gopro!
The walk back down was also spectacular. We climbed up the southerly side and back down the northerly side. This gave us a view of the entire island, including the second highest peak, Slievemore. I warn you, the hike was a total of 4 hours and there is a reason It isnt exactly marketed on the Island tourist maps. There is no said trail or obvious direction on the way up. We started at the car park at the Cruachan Reservoir, with a relatively steep immediate climb on a bog ridden slope, it was a little slippy to say the least! I can recommend great hiking shoes and a fondness for soggy socks! A compass would also have been handy! Either way, it was all forgotten for the view! Incredible!
The “Atlantic Drive” is another must on Achill. This road weaves all along the coast, with some stunning beaches along the way. One in particular was Ashleam Bay. Located, just after a hair pin turn there is a car park and walk way down to the pebbly beach. The stones are a collection of colours with some almost pure white. 100ft cliffs shelter it from the winds and heavy surf. Nikon and tripod in hand, it was here I spent the evening shooting the spectacular sunset.
Needless to say there is something very special about Achill. I will always want to go back there. It’s like stepping back in time, no phone signal, no communication, no cares!
To discover more about the Wild Atlanic way click here