Having spent the summer cycle touring, we wanted to spend some time using our much loved van (Sam) during the ‘out of season’, but not quite winter period. Both of us wanted to explore the Republic of Ireland, as from what we had seen from others’ travels there, it is wild and beautiful. I had been here many years ago with my parents, but due to Mr V’s time serving in the military, it was somewhere that was off the radar for many years. Having identified a three week window, we grew excited as the day of departure drew near. We drove to Fishguard, through what used to be familiar byways, having lived in the area many moons ago, before having our now grown up children. We had found a spot on the park4night app, that was very close to the ferry port where we could await embarkation, as our departure was not until 23.45hrs. When it came time to embark, it felt quite strange driving on, as we have become used to pedalling on without a vehicular carapace.
Once Sam had been parked where instructed, we made our way to the passenger deck. We had not booked a cabin for this crossing as it was only about 3 hours, so the expense did not seem justified. We did take a blanket and warm coats with us, and following the example of a number of the other passengers decided that the TV lounge was the best spot to rest as it had reclining seats and low lighting, so we settled down to try and get some sleep, despite the gentleman a couple of rows in front snoring fitfully.
We were thankful that it was a smooth crossing, as it is notorious for being rough, and before long it was time to return to vehicles and disembark. There is something about waking in the wee small hours and having to venture out, that makes you really feel the chill in the air. Having already consulted with park4night, we had decided upon a spot that was in the town of Rosslare itself, rather than a couple that were very close to the port. The drive was only about 15 minutes on the quiet roads, we found an ideal spot and quickly snuggled down in bed, drifting off to sleep.
We awoke with the sun streaming through the skylights, opening the van door to the glorious view of sunlit sands and the sound of the gently rolling waves of the seashore. Taking a walk along the beach to blow away the cobwebs, we had coffee before setting off to Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford. We planned to cycle the Waterford to Dungarvan Greenway, but as this was a 60 mile round pedal, we wanted to save that for the next day, so walked into Waterford itself and had a meander, taking in the points of interest. We were struck by the number of blue plaques were dotted around. We took in some of the points of interest, decided that Waterford crystal was out of our price range given the frequency of breakages in our household, and then wondered back to where we had parked up, at the start of the Greenway. We ventured a little way down the track on foot, but as it was late in the afternoon and the fitful sleep of the night before was catching up with us, we decided to return to the van for an early supper and bedtime.
Whilst getting organised for the next day, Mr V closed the rear doors of the van, but one would not shut properly. This spelt potential disaster. Removing the panel to see if there were any broken connections to the latch, we eventually figured out that one of the latch components had somehow become ever so slightly misaligned. With limited tools and following Maslow’s principle, Mr V wielded a hammer to levered the misaligned latch. Thankfully this worked and the door is once again secure.
The next morning, the weather was overcast with spots of rain in the air as we set off on Talula along the Greenway, which is approximately 30 miles to Dungarvan. The railway track runs alongside the initial portion to Kilmeadan, where there is a little station, and the narrow gauge Waterford Suir Valley Railway runs to Waterford and back. At Stradbally, the greenway travels through the old railway tunnel, where at each entrance there are myriad brightly painted fairy doors and houses dotted along the tree trunks and cutting walls, they are adorably charming. The route took us over a couple of impressive viaducts, though it is difficult to fully appreciate them from above, such is their height. Eventually, we sighted the sea and the route took us gradually down to sea level until we reached Dungarvan, where we stopped for lunch and tried some of the highly recommended Tayto crisps. There were indeed good, and that is coming from someone who is not a big crisp eater!
Rested and refreshed we headed back the way we had came, and before long the sun was making a concerted effort to break through the clouds, and it was positively bright and warm for the majority of our ride back to Sam. Though the greenway follows the route of a disused railway line, it is by no means flat, and both the outward and homeward journeys seemed to be quite hard work overall, so we were pleased to make it back to Sam for a well deserved cup of tea.
Once we were all packed up, we drove back to Dungarvan to spend the night overlooking the bay, having identified a parking area with facilities for camper vans (water and disposal points). After a wonder around the town, and stopping off to pick up some provisions, we settled in for the night for supper and a sound sleep after a tiring day.