Travel With Me to Ireland For a Unique Adventure

April 4, 2019   Comments Off on Travel With Me to Ireland For a Unique Adventure

Travel With Me to Ireland For a Unique Adventure

March 17, 2019 Comments Off on Travel With Me to Ireland For a Unique Adventure

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!   I’m excited to announce that after my first pilot of Ottsworld Tours last year, it went so well that I have decided to continue it! I’m going back to Ireland this year and hoping you will join me!

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.

Ottsworld Ireland Hiking Tour Oct 12-19

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’!

What did people say about the first Ottsworld Tour?

Ireland tour county mayo hiking

“Definitely a 10! I really enjoyed the fact that the tour was a “white glove delivery” experience- everything was so meticulously planned so we didn’t have to worry about transportation, meals, what we’re doing for the day, or if we’re trying to too much or not enough. I went back to reread the description of the tour (published in May) after we returned home and couldn’t believe that we hit EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. AS. PLANNED.”

“definitely met expectations and also exposed me to things I’m sure I would not have considered if I was planning a trip.”

The Trip Summary

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 our professional Irish guide – Rachel, 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

What’s the best thing about doing this tour again? I was able to get feedback from the first group about the itinerary and various activities and then make changes based on their feedback! From that I decided to add more free time to the schedule as well as make the group even smaller and more intimate (There are only 7 spots available!!!). By making the group smaller, we are able to do more specialized local experiences and be more flexible overall.

Ottsworld Ireland Tour Highlights

Go Where Few People Go

One of my favorite things about the Ireland tour last year was the fact that we really traveled a lesser known part of Ireland. I love introducing people to new, uncrowded areas to visit and County Mayo was exactly that! When we hiked the coastline we only saw one other family along the trail – we had the giant cliffs to ourself! In fact, one of our group stayed an extra day to do the popular Cliffs of Moher herself since I don’t include it in the itinerary and here’s what she had to say”

“The Ottsworld tour overall could not have been better, because seeing all the tour buses at the Cliffs of Moher (during the “off” season) made me realize how glad I am that we didn’t do the normal touristy things!”

The Hikes

Ireland tour county mayo hiking

You’ll experience 3 very different hikes (coastal, mountain summit, and woods) as well as a day of biking on remote little country roads. Each hike is rated moderate, and you should be prepared that there is plenty of uphill in these hikes.

Hiking level – Moderate – These hikes will take you across open-mountain and bogland (wet conditions). The terrain is varied and each day will have uphill and downhill hiking, some of which may be steep. The maximum height we reach is 950 metres (3,100 feet) approx. This grade is suitable for people with a good level of fitness and capable of walking up to 20kms (12.5 miles) a day.

Biking Level – Comfortable – Suitable for those who simply would like to explore a region by bike at their own pace. The cycling is mainly on flat routes. There is less climbing involved on these tours. These tours are designed for those that do not cycle on a regular basis but have a reasonable level of fitness.

“It was just right for me, a bit challenging but that’s what I like. The first day was the most beautiful, second the most challenging, third very interesting with the steps through the woods.”

Food & Drink

Ireland tour county mayo

Ireland doesn’t get the respect it deserves for food. You’ll be treated to great restaurants throughout the tour. Even I was surprised at the level of culinary experiences we were receiving! You’ll experience high class gastronomy as well as small town cooking. From seafood to Mary’s special pie in the tiny town of Ballycastle.  We even have one night eating like royalty in a castle.  We’ll also be learning to cook some of the delicious foods and specialties from a well known local chef!

“Food was AWESOME – way better than expected. Appreciated doing things I would not have done on my own”

You won’t go thirsty either.  After our special whiskey appreciation class, we will have plenty of time to sample the local whiskeys as well as Guinness!

Photography Instruction and Professional Photos for You to Keep

I offer photography instruction to anyone interested in learning more about composition, and getting off of auto mode!  In addition you will also get all of the photos I take of the trip for you to keep.  So if you don’t want to bother taking pictures, you can have mine!

“Thank you for your patience in helping us capture amazing memories! The only thing I knew before your class was the rule of thirds, and now I have a great foundation of knowledge to build upon- no more point and shoot! Instagram watch out!”

Our Awesome Local Guide

I loved our guide Rachel so much last year that she’s coming back this year to guide us again. Rachel is the ultimate outdoor guide. She’s an incredible athlete and such a wonderful advocate of her home region in County Mayo. One of my favorite things about staying in Ballina is that it is the town she grew up in and with that comes incredible local connections. In fact, we will be staying in her mom’s B&B this year and have special cooking classes from her mother. It doesn’t get much more local than that! Plus, Rachel ensures that we know everyone in town introducing us to the bartenders when we go into a pub, restaurant owners, and even the local guy who smokes fish! When you have the right guide, it can ‘make’ an entire trip!

Dates

October 12th– 19th (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

$2,276 USD/2010Euro*
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 – $283USD/250Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur by the time of your final payment.

What’s Included

  • 7 nights stay in an en-suite room at our premium hand-picked accommodations.
  • Delicious Full Irish breakfast each morning.
  • 4 Picnic Lunches (on hike days only).
  • 4 sumptuous evening meals in the region’s top restaurants.
  • 6 days activities with an expert Irish guide who will accompany the group for the duration of the holiday
  • All experiences as outlined in the itinerary.
  • Courtesy transfers to and from each day’s walking locations and all transport as outlined in the itinerary.
  • Basic photography instruction during the trip.
  • Access to a full gallery of photos (shot by me!) of the entire trip, you can use for personal purposes.

What’s not Included

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

What Makes it ‘Ottsworld’

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.

Ireland tour county mayo hiking

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.


Cost

$2,276 USD/2010Euro*
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 – $283USD/250Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur by the time of your final payment.

When you click “Book Now” you will be taken to the Ireland Walk Hike Bike Website and asked to confirm the trip dates (Oct. 12-19).  Enter and pay 150Euro for the deposit at the time of booking.  The balance will be due 8 weeks prior to the start date.


 

Who Should Consider This Tour?

• 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

$2,276 USD/2010Euro*
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 – $283USD/250Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur by the time of your final payment.

When you click “Book Now” you will be taken to the Ireland Walk Hike Bike Website and asked to confirm the trip dates (Oct. 12-19).  Enter and pay 150Euro for the deposit at the time of booking.  The balance will be due 8 weeks prior to the start date.


 

 Detailed Day by Day Itinerary

Oct 12th – 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 homecooked Irish dinner around the table with the group in Marjorie’s homely kitchen, washed down with an Irish coffee made with Jameson, Ireland’s favourite whiskey.
After dinner 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.
Meals included: Dinner

Note: Flights should arrive in Dublin before 1PM if possible.

Oct 13th – Day 2:
After a refreshing sleep and a delicious 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 Ceide Fields which is 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 close by.

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.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Oct 14th – Day 3:

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.

Before traveling to the beginning of your hike enjoy a unique experience on a visit to a local fish mongers where you will learn the art of smoking fish from the local expert.

For your hike you will be ascending across open mountain 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 where you have time to enjoy your triumph & then continue west to descend along a different route if weather allows.

Walk Details – Distance: Up to 8kms. Highest point: 765mts. Gravel tracks, loose scree, rocky & uneven conditions underfoot, muddy trails.

Following your hike, you will return to your hotel where you can refresh in the hotel pool and leisure facilities.

This evening you have a real treat before Dinner. A whiskey appreciation masterclass, your whisky expert will take you through a selection of Irish Whiskey and educate you on this world-famous spirit and its origins. Taste the different whiskeys and ask any questions you may have. Following the masterclass, you are free to enjoy your evening at your leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Oct 15th – Day 4:
After another wonderful breakfast , Today you will 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, with time to relax and explore this quaint location.

We’ll then take the coastal drive through surf haven Easkey towards Enniscrone and back to Ballina.

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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Oct 16th – Day 5:

Wake up to a delicious breakfast, you should try the porridge with fresh fruit! Once you finish breakfast, it’s a short walk to your guide Rachel’s bike shed, where you will be fitted for a bike, given your packed lunch and we will do a quick briefing of the day ahead. From here, we’ll cycle the Monasteries of the Moy, exploring Belleek woods, Rosserk Abbey and the quaint historic port village of Kilalla. There will be lots of occasions to stop off and take pictures and learn about the history and traditions.

In the late afternoon there will be the option to enjoy a baking experience in Marjorie’s kitchen, hosted by your guides mother in her kitchen. Marjorie is the author of 4 cookery books and loves nothing more than to share her passion in the kitchen.

For anyone who doesn’t want to cycle today, Another option is to chill out and enjoy a relaxing treatment in an award winning spa.

Dinner will be served in a traditional pub we’ll also be entertained with live music.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Oct 17th – Day 6:

Your destination today is the sleepy village of Slane and the stunning setting of Rock Farm Glamping site. After time to check in and get comfortable in your luxury Mongolian Yurt you will take a beautiful river walk along the banks of the Boyne river and really appreciate the beauty of the region or you can relax and soak up the serenity of the Glamping site.

In the late afternoon you will visit Slane castle for a tour and then it’s off to Slane Whiskey distillery for a distillery tour and whisky tasting.
Tonight’s meal will be a delicious BBQ of local produce paired with local ciders and beers for those who enjoy a tipple.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Oct 18th – Day 7:
Today takes you to Dublin City. After checking in to your hotel you will take a walking tour to many of the highlights & historical places of interest. This walk will incorporate a visit to St. Patricks Cathedral, Trinity College and other locations of cultural and historical significance. 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.

Enjoy your evening meal before a brilliant literary pub crawl where in the company of 2 local guides you will visit the pubs frequented by Irelands best loved Playwrights and authors. What sets this apart from other tours are the impromptu performances by your two guides. This is such a great way to see Dublin’s vibrant pub culture! Afterwards you will have the opportunity to enjoy Dublin city and the nightlife it is world famous for.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Oct 19th – 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.
Meals included: Breakfast


Cost

$2,276 USD/2010Euro*
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 – $283USD/250Euro*.

*All prices will be charged in the Euro listed so some USD price fluctuations could occur by the time of your final payment.

When you click “Book Now” you will be taken to the Ireland Walk Hike Bike Website and asked to confirm the trip dates (Oct. 12-19).  Enter and pay 150Euro for the deposit at the time of booking.  The balance will be due 8 weeks prior to the start date.


 


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