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West Cork Secret, Kilbrittain

peter donegan, finbarr omahony, west cork secret

Pictured above: Finbarr O’Mahoney of West Cork Secret and Peter Donegan.

They say:

The West Cork Secret is a magical hideaway, loved by all who discover it. It couples the serenity of beautifully landscaped gardens with the shrieks of excitement from the obstacle course. The perfect place for a family outing…..

I say:

If you get a chance to go there, do so. And if you can make it happen, try to get a group together so that you can stay and camp there. The grounds are stunning, extremely well thought out and is to this day a work in progress – Finbarr is constantly trying to add something – set within 35 acres and surrounded by the finest views. Daytime was nothing but the sounds of young and old enjoying all it has to offer and if I could live forever in one piece of Ireland’s landscape, this pretty much has all that I could ever want.

The video and images below explain it much better…..

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The Apple Farm, Tipperary

peter donegan, con traas

Pictured above Peter Donegan with Con Traas of The Apple Farm.

Located between Clonmel and Cahir just off the N24 lies The Apple Farm of Tipperary, is a 60 plus variety 35 acre apple orchard that also grows some plums, pears and other soft fruits.

A little drive down the avenue however and you will find yourself parked outside The Apple Farm Shop that only sells it own on site made produce, made solely from its very on site grown produce. This shed as a by the way also doubles up as the booking office for The Apple Camping and Caravan Park that Con’s parents set up in 1982.

Last week I took some time away from horticulture [?] and decided to spend 4 nights camping there. And without question and by a very long country mile The Apple Farm is one the top spots I have ever had the honour to pay money to and stay in.

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Lough Derravaragh, Co. Westmeath

Lough Derravaragh or Loch Dairbhreach is pretty much famed for it’s relation to The Children of Lir (Oidheadh Chlainne Lír) old Irish fable where after being turned into swans, the four children of King Lír, not by choice, spent 300 years there.

A little like being able to picture a child inside a giant peach, I find some grown ups will get why I could sit here all day and let my imagination run away with itself. For those who maybe think that sounds a little outlandish, not so far away from Lough Derravaragh lies Lough Ennell and Johnathan Swift Park ~ the spot where Swift first dreamed up Gulliver’s Travels (1726) sitting right by it’s side. A well known refuelling spot for the daydreamers it seems.

Back to the great outdoors and good to know for the tent lovers, my stay by was by way of camping [Lough Derravaragh Camping – phone: 044-9371500]. I chose to pitch my tent right at the back of the lake. All things told there are few things in life more beautiful than watching the sun go down on such a stunning location.

Note to campers – If it’s available, pick the wee pitch by the wee bench underneath the tree. I don’t believe my fresh ground caffeine has ever tasted so good….

Also nearby in the town Multyfarnham is the wonderful 17th Century Estate of Mornington House, home to so very wonderful Anne and Warwick O’Hara. A real must visit if you are in the area. If however you don’t wish to travel that far, at the end of the avenue of Lough Derravaragh Camp site is the Donore Woodland Walk.

On a slight side note, I don’t know whether wee 2 and a half year old Ella understood the story Dad told her of the swans when we saw them. And though, I did change a line or three hither dither, a little of me is hoping she did. One thing is for sure, I know I’ll return there again when she and I are a little taller.

For all of the descriptions I may hold – gardener, horticulturist, landscaper and lover of the great outdoors – Lough Derravaragh quite simply ticks every single box and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wicklow Mountains, Wild Camping

wicklow mountains

Saturday 10th December, The SodShow teamed up with Gelert and Millets Mary Street to take five people and record the journey as we hiked, trekked and wild camped overnight, without tents, in The Wicklow Mountains.

Why do this for Dublin’s Garden Radio Show The SodShow ?

We have spoke many times on The SodShow about my Hedgerow walks, eating from the wild, native Irish plants and trees, the garden groups outings and [ordinary] camping. We thought it a good idea to somehow and in someway, join them all together.

In this case and of note we went to a [Wicklow] National Park. From a horticultural perspective, it contains many pre mapped nature trails including a flower walk and tree walks. Eight of the Park’s plants are in fact classified as threatened – three are vulnerable and five are rare. We also wandered much of its forestry and slept only with what nature could surround us with. Also we don’t think this has ever been done for radio before and – the landscape is absolutely stunning.

That aside, if the equipment and clothing used will more than suffice overnight in December in Ireland, without tents, in the Wicklow Mountains – it should do you well whilst out for a[ny] walk or work in the great outdoors.

Note:

  • The five are very experienced in [in short] the great outdoors.
  • The audio recorded will be aired as a mini series of sorts for The SodShow.
  • All equipment used was supplied by Gelert Ltd and Millets of Mary Street.
  • It is not recommended you do this unless you are experienced.
  • Wicklow Mountain safety and no trace guidelines were followed at all times and more info can be found at Wicklow National Park Website inc. notes on wild camping.
  • Mini series set to air: on radio/ podcast for 4 weeks from Dec 23rd & Jan 6th – 20th. There will be no SodShow December 30th

Our journey timelines are as follows – Saturday 10th December

  • 08:30 Meet for debrief and equipment check at Millets Mary Street
  • 10:15 Arrive Wicklow Mountains and final checks
  • 10:30 Depart from base and begin Wicklow Mountain trek
  • 16:35 Establish base camp
  • 10:15 Sunday – Leave No Trace final checks and depart Wicklow Mountains

A separate post will explain the kit and equipment that we used. These images should help in visualising the audio as the story is told over the coming weeks.

It is one thing to encourage you to try this or any more simplified variation of, but it is better to encourage you to do it with the correct preparation.

The #SodShow Friday 23rd December. Dublin Garden Radio Podcast (mp3)

The #SodShow. Friday January 6th 2012. Dublin’s Gardening Radio Podcast (mp3)

The #SodShow. Wild Camping, The Finalé – Dublin Garden Radio Podcast. Fri 13 Jan ’12 (mp3)

Links of Note:

5 Essential Products for the Great Outdoors

As we head past the August mark on the calender towards what I would note as the wetter and latter months of the year, some may be noting this as their time to hang up the outdoor paraphernalia for what may be considered the off season. Not on your nelly says this fellow.

To me, the more inclement the weather the more interesting I say. Whether it be Electric Picnic were it always rains on the final night, a walk in Donegal were all for seasons are guaranteed within the space of one weekend two hours or like me you just like camping and working outdoors in all seasons – the following are five essential products that make my great outdoors experience greater.

1. Icebreaker Bodyfit 200

icebreaker bodyfit 200

First up it’s all about keeping the upper body warm and dry.

This is in short no ordinary t-shirt and if you think I might model this for the sake of a blog post, you are [happily/ sadly/ delete as appropriate] mistaken. That said, the Icebreaker bodyfit 200 holds tight to the body and warms me almost immediately. I own three of them now and they are the ultimate piece of clothing for this gardener/ festival/ outdoors trekker.

Sweating whilst it rains is a pain in the tusch and if I am going to get wet, my logic is really is a case of how quick I can become dry. They say:

Wind resistant. Highly breathable so moisture vapour escapes. Liquid moisture is pulled away from the skin and released as moisture vapour. warm air is trapped between layers. Warmth is trapped in air pockets between each layer.

I say: it is a genius piece of clothing. Extremely light. Dries out very quick and is essential if you are to be outside from September onwards in Ireland. I bought the long sleeved version. Black in colour to soak in any available Irish sun that little bit quicker. Also: check out their BAA code tracker.

2. Crag 45 – Beyond by Gelert

crag 45 rucksack beyond gelert

Second is about keeping the rest of your clothes and food dry and as important comfortable to carry.

From the Beyond by Gelert range, this Crag 45 ain’t no ordinary ruck sack. It was given to me to road test by Millets Camping of Mary Street, Dublin. How good is it….? For starters, it comes with a [quote]

manufacturing, materials and workmanship defects for the lifetime of the product

There’s confidence for you. 45 litres in size it has enough adjustment straps to suit perfect to your shape and an air fit system to suit your back in comfort whilst drying sweat away. Better again it is water safe but has what I can only describe as a mini-parachute tucked into its bottom that can be taken out and pulled over for extra water-proofing. So suited to the great outdoors the chest straps come with a built in whistle, that works. This one costs €44.99.

3. Mini Maglite

mini maglite aa

No. 3 is the light that guides you.

About the only thing on the list that may not be used by me as a gardener yet I still keep it in my jeeps glove compartment.

I have this maglite torch years. Pretty unbreakable, durable and just ruddy well made, it is so much so I have never replaced the bulb on it. In search of an official note that says how waterproof it is and also the light strength – the Maglite official website is pretty brutal – and I couldn’t, officially find an answer.

That said mine has fallen in river, lakes, puddles and last year spent three weeks outside in the Irish snow and still, the old horse works like a charm. More than that I consider it a valuable and at a little wider than a pen, it fits perfect on my person and is well able to take on the big boys in the how bright can you shine contests.

4. Silky Pocket Boy 130

silky pocketboy 130 saw

No. 4 is for fire wood and furniture.

If you have ever made anything from what surrounds you by the way of rope and wood [?] or just the odd branch gets in your way whilst trekking across the hedgerows the self nicknamed Little Giant [due to its extraordinary cutting capacity] is an absolute must. They say:

Rust-resistant, hard chrome-plated, taper-ground blade with an impulse-hardened non-set tooth design for greater cutting efficiency

  • 5-inch (130 mm) blade length
  • 8.5 teeth per inch (10 teeth per 30 mm) teeth configuration
  • 0.35 pounds (160 grams) operating weight; 0.5 pounds (220 grams) weight with carrying case

I say: I’ve had this one about eight years now. Light as a feather and once again takes up very little space, this is a genius little product and an essential for this gardener, camper and great outdoors lover. Another great investment.

5. Tresspass Commanche

trespass commanche

Finally it is all about keeping the head dry and warm.

As you can see this Trespass Commanche hat has been with me for some time. Peaked at the front and without even pulling the flaps down I have done very little by way of gardening, camping or trekking without this in my arsenal. This has more often ended up saturated on the outer whilst I’m bone dry by way of hair style inside.

I couldn’t find anything about it on the Trespass website – that’ll possibly tell you how long I have it.

Thoughts and comments below if you wish or find me via:

walking in ireland