Travel With Me to Ireland For a Unique Adventure

April 23, 2018   9 Comments »

Travel With Me to Ireland For a Unique Adventure

April 23, 2018 9 Comments »

Normally I ask people to ‘travel with me’ figuratively; follow my travels on social media and read my stories in my blog. However, this time when I say ‘travel with me’ I mean I want you to pack your bags and come with me…really!


UPDATE:  The tour is currently full!  Sorry you missed this one, but if you are interested in future Ottsworld tours, please sign up for my Ottsworld tours mailing list here.


Why Ireland?

I pretty much fell in love with Ireland the moment I saw her. She seduced me with rolling, emerald, sheep-dotted hills and plains of gray-green stone. She stirred my wild side with reckless winds tearing across rocky cliffs. Underneath her incredible expanse of sky, she stole my heart. She is a land of myth and music – full of lovely, welcoming people with adventurous hearts and a great gift for weaving stories. Demure, yet saucy. A gracious hostess with an untamed spirit. She can bring an idyllic moment of pure pastoral contentment or nail biting panic on a twisting one lane cliff-side road. This lady keeps you guessing. And that is part of her charm.

I drove Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way solo for 3 weeks 4 years ago and fell in love with the Irish landscapes and the people. It has a little of everything I love. The west coast has dramatic landscapes, a rural background, small towns, and a local culture that is really welcoming.

Hiking Ireland

To really experience Ireland – you need to feel it – feel its land, its rain, its temperate climate and most of all – its soul. This is a country that cannot be rushed and exploring it on foot is one of the best ways to experience it. This allows you the opportunity to meet the “locals”, come face to face with thousands of years of history and see what it is that makes Irish people so unique.

I have partnered with my friends at Ireland Walk Hike Bike to put together an Ottsworld tour that would bring landscapes, hiking, local culture, and unique touches together in a 7 day customized tour. I hiked with Ireland Walk Hike Bike on my first trip to Ireland and they were a integral piece of why I fell in love with Ireland. Their guides are local and welcoming and I love their approach to active travel. When I decided to go back and do a tour in Ireland, I knew immediately I wanted to work with them and utilize their Ireland hiking expertise to put together something incredibly ‘Ottsworld’!

The Trip Summary

Ireland custom tour

The Wild Atlantic shores of County Mayo. Photo from Failte Ireland

county Mayo Map

County May in dark green

First off – this is not your run of the mill tour. This is an exclusive customized Ottsworld tour in the company of me (who will be giving photography classes along the way) accompanied by elite professional Irish guides, visiting some of Ireland’s best kept secrets and it is ONLY open to 7 lucky readers!

The trip will whisk you from Dublin to County Mayo, a spectacular peninsula and stretch of coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way. What’s that – you haven’t heard of County Mayo? That’s exactly why I chose it! It’s a hidden gem away from the heavily traveled sites.

“Mayo has wild beauty and haunting landscapes, but you’ll find few tourists here, which means there are plenty of untapped opportunities for exploration by car, foot, bicycle or horseback.” –LONELY PLANET

Trip Highlights

• Do a hiking pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick
• Hike the rugged coast of County Mayo.
• Climb Knocknarea and add a stone to the imposing grave or cairn of Maeve, the great warrior queen.
• Bath in a historic seaweed bathhouse
• Dine in a castle
• Celebrate Halloween where it originated. Learn the ancient traditions that were celebrated by the Druids in Ancient times. A perfectly spooky Halloween, Irish style.
• Learn all about whiskey appreciation with tastings at distilleries and in castles
• Stay in a yurt at a local farm and experience a real farm to table dinner where you can get hands on.
• A literary pub crawl through the historic streets of Dublin
• BBQ to celebrate the beginning of Samhaine (the Celtic dark year)
• Meet a fish monger and learn how to smoke fish
• Tour two different castles
• Photography instruction on composition and basic shooting skills so you can come home with incredible pictures and memories of your trip.

Dates

October 27 – November 3rd (7 nights, 8 days)

Beginning/Ending Point

You will start and finish in Dublin.

Space is Limited

This is a small group tour – only 7 people + me!  So sign up quickly as (hopefully) the space will fill up fast so sign up quickly!

Cost

$2120 USD/1740Euro*
Prices are per person sharing – it’s more fun to share and make new friends! However, if you want to lodge on your own, the single room Supplement – $348USD/285Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur.

What’s Included

• 7 nights bed and breakfast
• Full Irish breakfast each morning.
• Picnic lunch for each days hike
• 5 evening meals
• Expert Irish guide who accompanies the group for the duration of the holiday.
• All experiences as outlined in the itinerary
• All Transport as outlined in the itinerary
• Access to a full gallery of photos (shot by me!) of the entire trip, you can use for personal purposes. You’ll come away with the best Instagram shots possible!

What’s not Included

• Flights to/from Dublin
• Travel Insurance
• Some dinners
• Personal drinks
• Medical costs
• Gratuities

What Makes it ‘Ottsworld’

ireland custom hiking tour

County Mayo

This is not your average tour…it’s an Ottsworld tour. I must confess – that I am sort of a travel snob. I don’t like to do the ‘expected’ or see the typical sights; I like to seek out the unusual, and less traveled. I’ve worked together very closely with Ireland Walk Hike Bike to put together a tour that impresses even me! It has all of my favorite elements in it: hiking, local travel, booze, festivals and photography. Yes – all of this in only 7 days!

Hiking
I believe travel should be active, which is why I love hiking trips! It’s a way to slowly connect with the landscape and culture. We have a minimum of 3 days of hiking on this 7 day trip planned. We may be adding some additional hiking options for people who want even more. Some of the hikes will be moderate to challenging, and some will simply yield incredible views. But we’ll have a guide with us the whole time to help us through and provide local knowledge.

Local Elements
We’ve designed the tour to have a lot of local flavor. Our guide grew up in County Mayo and has an intimate understanding of the area and access to some really unique local experience and people. From home cooked dinners by her mom, to advanced whiskey tasting – we’ll meet locals and walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be Irish.

Booze
There will be no shortage of opportunities to try what Ireland is known for (besides potatoes). We’ll have plenty of time to visit pubs listen to music, and drink Guinness each night! In addition, well be touring local distilleries and tasting Irish Whiskeys.

Halloween
I love Halloween! I always find it fascinating to see how the rest of the world celebrates it. We’ll be in the heart of Halloween country; we are staying in the region in which it originated. Yes, that’s right, what we call Halloween, actually has roots in Celtic culture and originated in Ireland. There are no costumes and candy, but there will be some surprises.

Photography
Ireland is a photographer’s dream. I can hardly wait to go back just to take pictures! And since I’ll be participating on this tour with you, I am offering photography instruction along the way for those who are interested. You’ll get tips on composition, shooting in manual mode, various techniques, and personal critique (if you are interested). We may even be able to go over some editing techniques. This is not a photography tour per se, but each evening/morning I will be trying to catch sunrise/sunset and I will be doing photography throughout the tour and am happy to instruct at the same time.


UPDATE:  The tour is currently full!  Sorry you missed this one, but if you are interested in future Ottsworld tours, please sign up for my Ottsworld tours mailing list here.


Cost

$2120 USD/1740Euro*
Prices are per person sharing – it’s more fun to share and make new friends! However, if you want to lodge on your own, the single room Supplement – $348USD/285Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur.

When you click “Book Now” you will be taken to the Ireland Walk Hike Bike Website and asked to confirm the trip dates (Oct. 27 to Nov. 3).  Enter and pay 150Euro for the deposit at the time of booking.  The balance will be due 8 weeks prior to the start date.


UPDATE:  The tour is currently full!  Sorry you missed this one, but if you are interested in future Ottsworld tours, please sign up for my Ottsworld tours mailing list here.


Who Should Consider This Tour?

Ireland custom tour Mayo

County Mayo

• People who like to explore the lesser-known places, and be adventurous and active.
•People who are flexible.  You should be willing to exhibit flexibility, as itineraries may change due to weather, and it helps if you have a ‘willing to try new things’ attitude.
• People who don’t mind getting wet or enjoying the excitement of inclement weather.
• I must point out that this is not a luxury tour.  However, the accommodations are all perfectly lovely, but they are not 5 star.  They are quaint B&B and farm stays that will bring you closer to the Irish local culture.

How much hiking are we talking about?

We currently have 3 hikes planned; however, we may add more options. We will be hiking about 6 to 8 miles a day with elevations gains of 800 to 2600 feet. This won’t be too hard, and it won’t be too easy – that makes it pretty moderate.

What will the weather be like?

October is the beginning of the shoulder season, and that’s my favorite time to travel in a region! Ireland’s climate is influenced most by the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, it doesn’t have the extreme temperatures that other countries at similar latitude would have. The average temperature is a mild 50°F. However it can have wild swings in wind and rain all within a day. Ireland’s weather is moody.

The weather will be the weather. The average temperatures in October are 40 to 60F. Perfect for hiking! However, it may be rainy and stormy and windy – but that is Ireland. The country can throw a lot of different moody weather your way – but I find that exhilarating. There will be some sunny days, there will be some rainy days in Ireland. You will need to be flexible as some days the itinerary may change due to weather.


Cost

$2120 USD/1740Euro*
Prices are per person sharing – it’s more fun to share and make new friends! However, if you want to lodge on your own, the single room Supplement – $348USD/285Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur.

When you click “Book Now” you will be taken to the Ireland Walk Hike Bike Website and asked to confirm the trip dates (Oct. 27 to Nov. 3).  Enter and pay 150Euro for the deposit at the time of booking.  The balance will be due 8 weeks prior to the start date.


UPDATE:  The tour is currently full!  Sorry you missed this one, but if you are interested in future Ottsworld tours, please sign up for my Ottsworld tours mailing list here.


 Detailed Day by Day Itinerary

ireland custom tour

A surfing beach in County Mayo

Oct 27th – Day 1:
Your holiday starts in Dublin where your guide will meet you on arrival and transfer you to the vibrant town on Ballina. After settling into your room and taking in the magnificent view over the River Moy and Belleek Woods, take a short stroll around the Quay Village and marvel at the Crete Boom, Ballina’s own concrete ship which keeps watch over the quay.

As a welcome to Ireland enjoy a traditional home-cooked Irish Bacon and Cabbage dinner around the table with the group in Marjorie’s homely kitchen, washed down with an Irish coffee made with Jameson, Ireland’s favorite whiskey.

After diner if you have any energy left we will hit the town and visit Pat Rouse’s bar, Ballina’s oldest family-owned pub where a traditional Irish music session and singsong will go on late into the night. You may even get the chance to pull your own pint of Guinness.
Note: Flights should arrive in Dublin before 1PM if possible.

Oct 28th – Day 2:
hiking ireland mayoAfter a refreshing sleep enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast. It’s off to hit the trails of Mayo and get our boots dirty for the first time. This region of the Wild Atlantic Way has some of the most dramatic coastline to be found anywhere in Ireland. The hike we will enjoy today was described in Lonely planet as “The finest sustained coastal walk in western Ireland, with a profusion of precipitous cliffs, crags, caves, chasms and islands along the remote North Mayo coast”.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 13kms. Highest point: 270mts. Paved roads, sandy and gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, can be wet & boggy underfoot.

Next, it’s time to visit the beautifully designed Ceide Fields Visitor Centre, which showcases the oldest, most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, which lies beneath our feet! Consisting of megalithic tombs, fields and houses, the relics are softly covered by a natural blanket bog, which itself is a wonder with its unique flora and fauna. Prepare to be blown away at the viewing platform at the edge of the 110-metre cliff across the road.

Now it time to reward you for your days adventure with some delicious home baked treats at Mary’s Cottage Kitchen. The perfect place to stop for some tasty home cooking situated in the coastal village of Ballycastle. Mary’s Cottage Kitchen was built in the early 1800’s and maintains many traditional features such as the stone wall exterior, open loft, exposed beams, flag floors and a good open fire.
Following this delicious stop, you will make your way back to Ballina along the coast with a stop at the iconic Downpatrick head where your guide will bring this place to life with facts and folklore about time gone by.

This evening you can relax and enjoy your evening meal at your leisure. A local bar/restaurant called Crockets is always a favorite.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 13kms. Highest point: 270mts. Paved roads, sandy and gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, can be wet & boggy underfoot.

Oct 29th – Day 3:

ireland custom tour

The hike up Croagh Patrick

Today is your day for experiencing a pilgrimage as you hike the iconic mass of Croagh Patrick. No trip to Mayo is complete without a journey to the “Reek” and as it dominates the landscape, so it features in so much conversation around the locality. It is a glorious hike, and those that complete it will have a huge sense of achievement.

Ascending across open mountain, you will be following the main Pilgrim Route that most people use from the northern shores of Croagh Patrick. Taken slowly, this is a wonderful route giving terrific views across Clew Bay. Reaching the top of the mountain, you will find the famous Church there, have time to enjoy your triumph & then continue west to descend along a different route if weather allows.

Upon your return to Ballina you will go on an exclusive, intimate tour of the newly opened Connacht Whiskey Distillery, where the ancient Irish tradition of pot still whiskey has been revived. You’ll learn how whiskey is crafted and matured, and you’ll even get to taste some!

Another unique experience you can enjoy will be a visit to a local fish mongers where you will learn the art of smoking fish from the local expert.
Enjoy another relaxing evening in Ballina with dinner at your leisure. A nice option for tonight’s restaurant is Dillions
Other optional experiences today include
A visit to Hennigans Farm
A tour of Foxford woollen mills
A hands-on lesson on how to bake Irish soda bread
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 14kms. Highest point: 765mts. Gravel tracks, loose scree, rocky & uneven conditions underfoot, muddy trails.

Oct 30th – Day 4:
ireland knockareaAfter another wonderful breakfast today, we’ll take the opposite path on the Wild Atlantic Way towards scenic Sligo. Together, we’ll climb Knocknarea and add a stone to the thousands adorning the imposing grave or cairn of Maeve, the great warrior queen, which overlooks Strandhill. On our descent, we’ll walk the beach and check out the surfers and windsurfers in one of Ireland’s premier surf destinations. It’s time to enjoy an organic, fair-trade coffee at the outstanding Shells Café which overlooks the strand, enjoying one of their scrumptious homemade treats. We’ll then take the coastal drive through surf haven Easkey towards Enniscrone, and stroll along the pier.
Now it’s time for some luxury as we enjoy a Seaweed bath in Kilcullen’s Bath house which first opened its doors for business in 1912, the year of the ‘Titanic’. The Bath House had been built for the purpose on a site acquired by the Kilcullen family as far back as 1898. The Edwardian building hailed at the time as ‘Kilcullen’s modern Bath House’, an attempt to set it apart from a much older establishment dating from the middle of the 19th century, is today as it was then.

Ironically it is that ‘modern’ building that now gives the bath House its quaint Edwardian charm, a time capsule to remind the bather of the simple elegance of a bygone age. The beautiful Edwardian fittings comprising the original enormous glazed porcelain baths, solid brass taps and paneled wooden shower cisterns which a decade ago would have been considered dowdy, now combine to provide the unique ambience of the Bath House. For almost 100 years and into the fifth generation of ownership the same family, the Bath House has opened its doors for the Summer tourist season
Following your bath, you will be transferred back to Ballina to refresh before dinner.

Your evening begins with a tour of historic Belleek Castle, where we’ll see private dining rooms, decorated in a romantic, opulent style, the Spanish Armada Bar and the Tween Deck, overlooking the magnificent medieval banqueting hall. The highlight will be The Marshall Doran Collection, one of the finest collections of arms and armour, fossils and antiques in Ireland. We’ll also see the Grace O’Malley room and marvel at the last wolf shot in Connacht.
Following the tour, you will enjoy a delicious evening meal in the castle dining room.

Oct 31st – Day 5:

Today is Halloween and we have a very special experience for you to experience the origins of this Ancient Celebration which was called Samhain. In Celtic lore, the year is divided into two halves associated with the dark and the light. The dark half begins at sunset on November 1st with Samhain and the cycle ends when the light half begins at sunset on May 1st, which is the festival of Bealtaine. Both festivals are closely linked, but in general, Samhain is considered to be the most important.
Your destination today is the sleepy village of Slane which is a hugely significant sight in Ancient Ireland.

Before our evening of discovery you will enjoy a tour of Slane Castle and the wonderful Slane Castle Whiskey distillery for some dutch courage. Followed by a delicious meal made from locally sourced ingredients at your accommodation.

This evening you will learn the ancient traditions that were celebrated by the Druids in Ancient times. A perfectly spooky Halloween, Irish style.

Tonight, you will stay at a beautiful guesthouse situated on an organic farm where you will be able to see the Cattle, pigs and chickens that roam free on the farm.

Nov 1st – Day 6:

ireland custom tour

Stay in a yurt

November 1st was the beginning of the new year in ancient times where the people would be preparing for the Season ahead. Today you will enjoy a day of connecting with nature as you prepare your accommodation for tonight which will be a luxurious Mongolian Yurt situated on the farm. In the afternoon you will take a Farm to Plate tour of the Organic farm where you will source the ingredients for tonight’s meal. Along with this is a river bank walk and time to relax and enjoy the solitude of your location. Tonight’s meal will be a BBQ of local produce paired with local ciders and beers for those who enjoy a tipple.

Nov 2nd – Day 7:
DublinToday takes you around Dublin City, walking you to many of the highlights & historical places of interest. This walk will incorporate a visit to St. Patricks or Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity College & the Book of Kells and the Guinness Storehouse to name but a few. Any that wish to detour off for some personal sight-seeing may do so later in the day as free time will be given for you to do some exploring alone before you return to your accommodation After time to refresh enjoy a brilliant literary pub crawl where in the company of a local guide you will visit the pubs frequented by Ireland’s best lover Playwrights and authors. A great way to see Dublin vibrant pub culture!!.
Enjoy your evening meal together & afterwards you will have the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful Irish music, song or dance while tapping your feet & humming along to your favorite songs.
Overnight in Dublin City Centre Hotel

Nov 3rd – Day 8:
Following another delicious breakfast, today you will bid farewell to the Emerald Isle. You will be transferred back to Dublin Airport for your onward flights.


Cost

$2120 USD/1740Euro*
Prices are per person sharing – it’s more fun to share and make new friends! However, if you want to lodge on your own, the single room Supplement – $348USD/285Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur.

When you click “Book Now” you will be taken to the Ireland Walk Hike Bike Website and asked to confirm the trip dates (Oct. 27 to Nov. 3).  Enter and pay 150Euro for the deposit at the time of booking.  The balance will be due 8 weeks prior to the start date.


UPDATE:  The tour is currently full!  Sorry you missed this one, but if you are interested in future Ottsworld tours, please sign up for my Ottsworld tours mailing list here.


 

Visit Ireland for unique hikes, local experiences, photography, and Guinness!

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