If you’re looking for a unique holiday that offers eco fun, food and friendship then may I suggest the following!
Camping at Clifden Eco Campsite with shopping and dining in Clifden followed by a trip to nearby Inisbofin for a walk back through time and wonderful food.
My good Pal Linda and I set off for my first ever camping trip to celebrate my 47th birthday two weeks ago. First of all, having never been camping apart from out my back garden once or twice, I had to buy a tent that would keep me dry and warm without breaking the bank as we were on a budget. Life is a budget! Now, Linda is an experienced camper, and a mountain guide (and a mountain rescue volunteer – isn’t she cool?!!) so she had all the other bits for cooking etc and advised me on getting a small tent to start, to see if I liked camping. Wise words as I, having delved into the incredibly HUGE world of camping and tents had fallen for the new style Vango Airbeam tents, which still interest me but for a beginner it is wise to buy a regular tent.. So, I bought myself an Inis 200 (two man tent) online from The Outdoor Store for approx 65 Euro.
Our loose Itinerary ( thank you Linda) was as follows:
Sunday: Arrive and set up tents, then go for a stroll to Omey Island with birthday dinner afterwards in Clifden.
Monday: Camp breakfast then go to Inisbofin and spend the day there returning for takeaway and some bubbly.
Tuesday: Camp breakfast, walk on Diamond Hill, head home after lunch in Clifden.
So that was the plan… lol – Do you recall that there was a ‘bit of a storm’ that weekend?… more to follow on that later…
Well, we did make it down in good time for Sunday and decided to have a stroll around the town before heading out to Clifden Eco Beach Campsite (whom you may recall we met in 2014 on our EcoTour ). We popped into the ConnOMara shop and met Leo, one half of the couple owned business, who’s wife designs and creates the fabulous merchandise featuring the character Conn O’Mara! I have discovered that I have a sock fetish I think – and so purchased some gorgeously girlie woolly socks!
We headed out to Clifden Eco Beach Campsite and met Tatjana and Kris who gave us a lovely spot right in front of the water – I was a teeny bit nervous as I have a bit of a fear of the water but Kris assured me not to worry. We set up our tents and headed off for a walk across the coastline to Omey Island – where they were holding Bingo on the beach! There were cars and tractors all in attendance and when someone got Bingo they all beeped madly! It was a real Fr Ted moment I tell Ya!
The Campsite was really busy and the guys were saying they had the busiest late season ever as Irish people discovered camping! Recommend it for families and it is dog friendly too
It was a lovely walk albeit with both my biggest fears surrounding me – water and cattle – but very enjoyable. That evening we drove into Clifden for my birthday dinner at EJ Kings Bar and Restaurant. The food was really good and the place was busy enough with Covid restrictions in place etc. Early to bed then as we were up to get the ferry in the morning.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather the next morning as the sun was shining and it was a warm day. We cooked up our brekkie before setting off to Cleggan Pier – a short 15 minute drive from the campsite – to get the ferry to Inisbofin. There are carparks with attendants who will ask how long you are visiting the island for – some people go for an overnight stay etc – and you can thus leave your car in Cleggan for the duration at a small fee.
It was really busy with a lot of tourists waiting to get on board. We all had our masks on and disinfected our hands etc before we boarded. A calm sea made for a pleasurable journey across – took about 30-40 minutes and we landed.
Linda is an old hand at these trips so she had me ready to depart as soon as she figured which gate they were gonna use to let us out (lol) so we were first off and headed to the left from the ferry to begin our island stroll.
We realised we were a tad hungry though so decided to stop outside a hotel up the road a bit and have tea and scones – we got a table by the sea – the views were so incredible – and enjoyed our little break before the masses arrived. Then off we set, powered up with delicious home baked jammy scones.
Inisbofin is a really peaceful island, living there must be difficult especially without tourism. We did speak to a few of the locals who said that there had been a debate on the island whether to allow tourists or not what with Covid and it had been decided to do so although all were not happy with that choice. Understandably so.
On the other hand many were happy to see tourists as this was their only form of income and they really needed to make the most of these windows of potential sales. One thing is for sure – everybody has (finally) realised the potential and value of a good e-commerce site to bring in business whatever the world may throw at you.
We walked for about 3 hours before returning to the starting point and decided to forgo our takeaway in favour of having a bite to eat at The Beach Hotel and Restaurant before the ferry departed in another hour.
What a pleasant surprise- the food was REALLY REALLY delicious and the staff lovely , despite being rushed off their feet. One I would recommend for sure!
There was much amusement as a farmer delivered a couple of sheep to be taken by boat to the mainland – not a sight you see every day!
Once the ferry arrived again around 5pm we headed back to the mainland to the campsite – where we were informed about an impending storm…
Tatjana and Kris had mentioned to us earlier in the day about high winds expected that evening – they suggested we make sure the tents were very well pegged down using sand pegs – (which you can buy there, 6 for a tenner I think) but assured us that we should be ok with the car beside us to break the wind and as our tents were quite low they should be fine too. It turned out to be Storm Francis that arrived that night..
When we arrived back from Insibofin Linda and I had a nap in our respective tents, then, later on that evening after refreshing, we prepared for the high winds.. I must admit I felt much safer once I had put in the sand pegs as they really made the tent feel stable in the sand. We had some snacks and a bottle of bubbly which we opened which may have helped our lack of concern for blowing away in the night
Off to bed and so it began.. The wind began to howl and every scary movie I had ever seen or even imagined that involved sea creatures gliding up from the murky waters began to fill my brain as I lay in my tent – unable to see what was going on outside and feeling the wind begin to creep to the nape of my neck inside the tent.. This was my second (ever) night camping. Admittedly it was pretty exciting too and around 10pm we heard Kris outside as he was checking if we were ok and was happy to report that our tents looked like they would be fine. And our tents were – amazingly fine!
At around 3am (neither of us had fallen asleep yet – the NOISE of the wind was like being in an airplane engine) – I heard Linda shouting at me – “Roz I am getting into the car!” EEK- Just me left in the tent by the sea in a storm – NO WAY! I gathered my blanket and raced out to join her. There we could see all the flashlights of everyone as they were securing or – on occasion chasing – their tents. One family whom I had met earlier no longer had a tent and were all packed into their jeep- well, I did suggest he needed to make it sturdier at the time.. ho hum.
It was quite an experience and after about an hour things were slightly less manic so we both headed back into our still standing tents and (finally) fell fast asleep.
Needless to say the following morning – in the rain – we decided to skip Diamond mountain and instead just pack up and head home…
All in all though, a great Eco Adventure on the Wild Atlantic Way!