The first rays of the morning illuminate the tent, the morning breeze rustles the trees, the smell of grass and bark fill your nostrils and you share your first glimpse of the day with the squirrel hopping past. Ireland makes some bedfellow to wake up with finds Julie Basque.
There’s a reason they call the people bedding down in the midst of the Irish countryside happy campers. “The main attractions to camping in Ireland have to be self sufficiency, solitude and scenery,” enthuses camping aficionado Kieran Creevy of the Great Outdoors in Dublin.
He’s a particular fan of ‘wild camping’, which is pretty much dropping anchor (and pegs) wherever nature calls, foresaking those, er, unnecessary facilities such as toilets and showers, which you would get at an established campsite.
Kieran proves it makes for some pretty vivid memories:
“Last January I went camping near the Sally Gap in the Wicklow hills. They were completely covered in snow. Heading out from Enniskerry, there were no cars moving, absolute quiet. Five hours later, having had moments of wading through thigh deep snow drifts, I started setting up camp. Sitting outside the tent the next morning, blue skies, hills all white, you’d almost think you were in the Alps.”
But there are definite rules for wild camping anywhere on the island! Remember to ask permission from the private landowner or National Parks Authority whose square of turf you fancy laying your head on. You also need to follow the Leave No Trace principal, to keep our landscapes squeaky clean.
So, as a seasoned camper, what are Kieran’s favourite pitching points? Poison Glen, Donegal, with “its stunning location and plenty of scope for hiking”; the southside of Slieve Muck in the Mourne Mountains since “you’re 600m up from the valley floor and therefore it’s perfect if you’re combining camping with a hiking trip”; Lough Iolar, Wicklow, “a great location, especially in winter”; the northside of Slieve Bearnagh, Down, near to the Bearnagh Slabs “as this is a great spot for climbing”; and the northwest side of Croaghaun, Achill Island, for its “huge sea cliffs, the Atlantic facing you, the mountain at your back, and good surf beaches close by.”
So, thinking of pitching up? Who knows, you might come knocking on my door for a place to pitch when you see what I did with the garden! I may even make you breakfast!