I’m still busy with my Wild Atlantic Wayfarer project although this week I have been somewhat hampered by my car troubles. Before Gilbert (the car) decided to die on me just after I went to the wonderful Island View Riding Stables, which is located right on the Wild Atlantic Way just outside Grange, Co. Sligo. The aim of my project is to prove that adventures aren’t just for the young and if I can do it anyone can. So if you live in Ireland or are coming on holiday this is one of the activities you can take part in.
As the name would suggest Island View does indeed have a view of not only one but two islands (O’Connors and Dernish). Little did I know when I arrived that I would be visiting one of them that day…but more about that later.
Ursula, the proprietor, greeted me and suggest Mo would be my companion for our beach trek. Mo, I’m guessing is so-called because he has a Moustache! Ursula was telling me Mo came from Ballinasloe – I could just imagine a song being written about that!
While I was waiting to go on the trek I saw some of the other horses getting their hair done by the birds! They seemed to be enjoying it.
It’s a very short trek from the stables down to the most wonderful beach. With the golden sand, blue sky and vibrant blue sea you could be mistaken for thinking you weren’t in Ireland at all.
I used to ride regularly but I must admit I’ve lost my nerve a bit. Ursula was great though and just let me go at my own pace. I did eventually relax enough to try trotting. The horses are all very different and the stables will match you up with a horse to suit your ability. So even if you’ve never been on a horse before that’s no problem.
We had the beach to ourselves apart from a brief meet up with some other riders from the stable. It was just like a little bit of heaven and a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of life. It’s also a completely different way to see Sligo.
After the beach ride my adventure wasn’t over. Raymond, Ursula’s husband, was moving some cattle from O’Connor’s Island to the mainland so they asked if I wanted to tag along. I didn’t need to be asked twice! I got into the jeep along with Ursula and Pepsi the dog and off we went across the beach. We saw Martin from West Coast Kayaking (another adventure for my list!)
The jeep journey reminded me like something from Top Gear! It was great fun and a bit scary too! It was also fantastic to see Benbulben from this angle and to see part of Sligo I’d never seen before. With the longer beach treks you can actually go on horseback to the islands and have a picnic – what a wonderful way to spend a day.
O’Connor’s Island (nothing to do with my O’Connors) used to be home to just one family who moved from the Island to the mainland in the 1950’s. Raymond was telling me all about the island and how it used to be run when his grandparents lived there. It must have been a very hard way to live but it’s such a beautiful place – when the sun is shining anyway.
The island is now home to horses, cattle and sheep. The old homestead remains as a memory of another time. Walking around the island you get an enormous sense of peace. It’s like a smaller Inishmurray (without the boat trip to get there).
The cattle were rounded up and off we set back to the main land…another Top Gear moment, especially when Raymond drove the jeep through a river to wash of the salt water..I’m kicking myself I didn’t take a photo of that!