The Aran Islands are located West of the mainland in the Galway Bay. They are a group of three islands that have similar rock formations to the Cliffs of Moher. We decided to book a day-long excursion to the biggest and most beautiful island of the three, Inishmore (population is a little over 900). Our day started with a very short walk to the bus stop (just down the road), and then about an hour bus ride to the ferry dock. The ferry ride only took 45 min, which was a good thing because it was packed! Not quite as enjoyable as our last ferry ride and this time no dolphin sightings, but still a good view of the ocean. When we got to Inishmore, we were bombarded with bike rental salesmen
. After our great experience in Dingle on the bikes, we debated the option of doing that again. But this time we wanted to experience it all on foot. Our final destination, a massive stone walled cocentric semi-circle fort called Dun Aengus, located at the top of a 100m cliff. It was a little over 7km away. So we set off, taking the "coast walk" that led us past the home of a seal colony and a very nice beach. To our disappointment, nobody was home at the seal colony rocks, but the place was cool to see anyways. We were told the seals like to hang out on the stepped rock ledges that can be easily seen at low tide. When we walked by, it was just past low tide so I walked along the ledges just to make sure we didn't miss any seals. We then proceeded a little further along the one lane road (with bikes wizzing by us) and had lunch at a sweet spot looking out into the ocean. Some of the places we have eaten lunch on this trip are amazing. We should do a picture album just of our lunchtime views. Then we got to the base of the hill leading up to Dun Aengus. You weren't allowed bikes on this path so all the rented bikes were chained up in the bike lot at the bottom (ha ha suckers). The climb up to the fort was pretty neat, with old stone walls and rocky steps. The view of the rest of the island was becoming better and better, and we started to hear what sounded like thunder. We looked up and the sky was still blue so it couldn't be thunder. The booms continued the higher we got and became really loud when we walked through the outer fort wall. I headed right to the edge of the cliff to see the view and saw huge waves crashing against the cliff side. To our left at the cliff bottom was a small inlet that echoed a loud boom noise when a wave crashed against it. Very cool to see from above, the waves crash against the sheer cliffside
. There was no fence, no railing, nothing on the edge of the cliff. I poked my head over (don't worry mother, very safely) to take another look. We went through the innerstone wall, this time it was 4m thick, to see the centre of the fort. After taking it all in, we started to head back to the ferry dock. This time we went a different way. We took a grassy road that snaked through the maze of stone walls. The whole island is covered with medieval stone walls built to section off land for cattle and sheep. It made for a very picturesque walk. One that would have been hard to do on bike. We stopped by the ocean a little further along to find the "wormhole". A rectangular pool at the bottom of the cliffs that ebbs and flows from the waves. We didn't find it, but I got an amazing view of the waves crashing into the rocks during high tide. The water would splash up as it hit the rocks creating a huge white spray. Very awe-inspiring! One of the waves was a little bigger than the rest and it soaked my right shoe.
We made it back to the dock with some time to kill before the last ferry left the island. So I had time to wring out and somewhat dry my right sock. All in all we probably hiked over 17km. The trip back to Galway felt very relaxing.
The good times keep rolling here in Ireland. Another day of beautiful sunshining weather! What a perfect day to walk around an island and see a fort built over 2500 years ago. So that's what we did.