August started off with a busy weekend at the UK Mega in Essex (check out my blog post all about it here) and quietened down a bit after that. The big news was that I reached 365 days in my geocaching streak! I still can’t believe I managed to do it. It wasn’t easy – some days were easier than others, many were very difficult but it really is a sense of achievement to get past the year mark. The trouble is knowing when to stop. As I write, I’m still going and today will be day 392, provided I find a cache today ;). I have a day in mind to stop, in the not too distant future; I’ll keep you posted!
Geocaching on Achill Island
On the last weekend in August, the boyfriend and I spent the weekend on Achill Island. In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a weekend than visiting somewhere you’ve never been before! I can resolutely say that Achill is somewhere I plan to visit again and again.
Geocaching has brought me to many places in Ireland that I have never been before and that I have fallen in love with: the Antrim Coast, Cahirciveen, county Kerry and Port, county Donegal among the best of the best. But they have a new contender now: Achill.
I challenge you to spend even a few hours there and not to be mesmerised by the sheer beauty of the place.
We toured the island using the geocaches hidden there – a very good way to do it indeed. There are still three left for me to find but there will be future visits so I’m happy I’ve left a few more to grab next time.
Achill Island is located in county Mayo off the West coast of Ireland and is connected to the mainland via the Michael Davitt Bridge. The island has an area of 57 square miles and boasts the most stunning scenery, with dramatic cliffs, sloping mountains and blue flag beaches (five in total!). Much of the landscape is untouched which results in breathtaking views everywhere you look.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed every cache we found while visiting, here are some of my absolute favourites and ‘must dos’ if you visit.
Caisleán Ghráinne (GC53TM8) by pooken
This was the first cache we did on Achill, having started our tour in the south east of the island. Caisleán Ghráinne is essentially a tower standing close to the shore. We parked across the road from the stile leading in to the castle and were greeted by two mountain sheep lounging to the left of the tower. It felt like there were more sheep than people on the island – they were everywhere! These particular two let me get quite close to photograph them, before making off when we turned the gate to go in to the tower. We were lucky to have the place to ourselves, as lots more tourists showed up just as we were leaving. I think the photographs speak for themselves!
Boom Tomb (GC55JKA) by pookeen
I am quite sure we wouldn’t have found this random ‘monument’ if it weren’t for the geocache hidden there. Achill Henge, as it’s been christened by locals, was erected hastily over one weekend in November 2011 by Joe McNamara, described in this BBC article as ‘a local developer with a grudge against the authorities’.
There was never any planning permission for the cement construction and the powers that be want it removed, but it’s still there four years on with no visible signs of being removed any time soon.
I can’t say it’s particularly pretty but as a protest to the government’s handling of the financial crisis in Ireland, it’s definitely innovative. It’s unquestionably a sight to behold in the middle of a bog.
Keem Cache (GCGKAH) by Bootle
This cache is an oldie (from August 2003) and I needed it for my Jasmer grid so it was high on my to-do list. The beach at Keem is, in my opinion, the most beautiful on the island. The current road to Keem was built in the 1960s and brings you high above the sea before slowly descending to Keem Bay. It’s surrounded on two sides by two nunataks – Croaghaun and Slievemore. Croaghaun is the island’s highest peak, at 688 metres, and boasts the highest sea cliffs in the UK and Ireland.
To get to Keem Cache, you need to climb up near to the peak of Achill Head, which is the westernmost part of the island. I had read the cache description, which tells you that the climb is difficult but ‘relatively short’. I definitely expected it to be shorter. Just when I thought I was at the top, another hill on top of the hill I had just walked up, revealed itself. I wasn’t about to give up though. I needed to fill that spot in my Jasmer grid! And I have to say, the views were more than worth it. I even still have a reminder of the climb now – 64 insect bites on my arms! Insect repellant is a must when attempting this cache between May and September!!
Nobody Home (GC53TJC) by pookeen
This cache is hidden in what is signposted as ‘The Deserted Village’. The area consists of between 800 and 100 ruined stone cottages. The village is thought to be abandoned since about 1850, when the the last of the settlers moved to nearby villages. Many of the inhabitants emigrated during the Great Famine.
Achill is without doubt, one of my new favourite places in Ireland. There are many more places on the west coast that are high on my list – there aren’t enough weekends in the year! Big thanks to the COs of the Achill caches that I enjoyed so much, in particular pookeen, who really knows a quality and interesting geocache location!
At the end of September, I’ll be going to Carlingford on the east coast, which has come highly recommended too – let’s see if it can measure up to the beauty of Achill and the excellent caches!
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