06 July 2010

Aran Islands

Actually, to be specific, just a single Aran Island - Inis Mor. On Saturday we (we on this occasion being myself, my two PhD colleagues and a random Aussie friend) took the ferry over to the largest Aran Island, Inis Mor (Inish More). The islands a very small, nothing like our Stewart Island, and they sit in Galway Bay so you can see them from the city. You drive down the coast a wee way and then take the ferry, it's about a half hour trip. They are not forest like our islands but more farmland and stone walls. Only once it was all stone, not farmland, and to make soil they lay seaweed and sand over the ground. There are ruined forts and monastaries dotted over the islands. Below my photo shows a signal tower, and is the highest point on the Island apparently.

And here is the view down from a point just below that tower. Everywhere is stone walls and a view of the sea. It is a long island so from most high places you can look to either side and see the ocean, but not ahead nor behind.

So on the island you hire a bike and cycle around it seeing all the sites. Even if you do the entire circumference it does not take so long, but we did not have time for that, we stopped for too long at places.

Anyway, up by the signal tower was a small fort, a big circular wall of stone rocks that you could get right inside of. And there is not really a lot to say about it, but to actually be there was really cool, and we climbed around inside for ages.

And then after making it all the way up that hill, which doesn't look like much but was actually really steep, too steep to cycle, anyway after going up was the fun part of going down. But I didn't have a helmet or anything so I was a wuss and went down with the brakes on. It was still awfully fast though, and took no time at all considering how hard it had been to get the bike up the hill.

Continued down the road, to finally arrive at the main attraction, a big fort called Dun Aengus. You cannot cycle up, you walk up the path and all the other tourists get in the way of photos. It is set up upon the cliffs so the view down is really impressive. The view up is not so impressive, a fort is really just a big wide round stone wall. So the picture below showing the outside of it is a bit dull.

This one here on the other hand is far more impressive, and does not even really capture how it looked to us up there on top of the cliffs. Inside the walls is a big flat area of stone, and you can lay down with your body on the ground and your head hanging over the side and look down the cliffs to the water crashing below. And it is insanely windy.

But you can only stay up on top of windy cliffs for so long, and eventually we had to come down. For the cycle back we took the coast road so that we could have a look at the seal colony, but there were only two seals on this occasion and they were not very close to the beach. Not like the seals back in Kaikoura that are always hanging around in large numbers on the rocks. By the time we were back on the ferry we were all so tired. And not so much then but by the next day my legs were absolutely killing me - that was a lot of cycling!

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