Walking and talking the Seven Heads of Clonakilty, West Cork – one of the best kept secret walking trails in Ireland

Wild swimming in Ireland West Cork

‘He’s a really good head’ is something you will often hear in Ireland. It’s a colloquialism for a person who is truly decent. So when I decided to take on the Seven Heads Walk around the coastline between West Cork’s Timoleague and Clonakilty, I set myself the task to also try and meet seven ‘good heads’ along the way. I put out a request on Twitter and it was quite easy to see that the same good heads kept being recommended and that I wasn’t going to be short of companions on this, one of the best kept secret walking trails in Ireland. Before I knew it I had gathered fellow walkers, dates in pubs, tea in a gardening writer’s kitchen, picnic pals and a swimming soul mate for a dip in the Atlantic. Tune into my quick chats with them by clicking on the links attached to each of my ‘heads’ below.

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Sustaining the wonderful island of Sark

Sark, one of the car-free Channel Islands

If there is one place I could go back to this mid summer, it would have to be Sark. One of the Channel Islands, it takes a good while to get there but it is so worth it. Sark is a car-free and sustainable Channel Island lying 11 km east of Guernsey and about 40 km west of the Cherbourg Peninsula of France. I discovered it on a trip to (also gorgeous, but not quite so special) Jersey a few years ago, which I was heading to by ferry from the south of England. I got chatting to a crowd of cool young ones, who told me they were en route to Sark. They come every year around midsummer to gaze at the stars, because Sark is not only car free, but it is totally free of street lights and so an astronomical Arcadia.

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Watching Jersey grow, the green way

I smiled at the irony of a man in a Panama hat, accompanied by a woman swathed in silk scarves, stopping their convertible vintage sports car to give way to our Number 1 bus as it left Liberation Station in St. Helier. I was taking the green way across Jersey,  travelling by bus, bike and boot power,  not only to discover its eco-friendliness, but also to allow myself a holiday where I truly slowed down. Some might say this is also a vintage approach to travelling, but  with the emphasis on green rather than glam in my case.

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Dear Old Inishowen – the most memorable of adventure holidays in Donegal, Ireland

Coasteering in Donegal

The audience cheered at the end of Jimmy McLaughlin’s rendition of ‘Dear Old Inishowen’, not only because of his fine a cappella accomplishment but also because he was singing it in McGrory’s front bar in Culdaff, the heart of his dear old Inishowen. He was here because his family was the subject of an Irish television series called Dúshlán 1881 – Living the Eviction, about famine evictions from the nearby village of Carrowmenagh, and they were having a screening in the hotel to celebrate. I was there to explore the wilderness that remains all around this northernmost point of Ireland, travelling with one of a handful of companies offering adventure holidays in Donegal. Right now, however, in this cocoon of Culdaff, my cultural immersion was like an unexpected and delicious appetiser.

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