Santa Rosa has always been one of those interestingly remote places for me. I grew up just an hour away from it, but it always felt as distant as places three or four hours away, as if it were more suited to a long weekend trip than a quick visit. Where I live now is […]
While I didn’t do it on this visit, if you’ve got the time, make the effort to climb Slieve Donard — not the resort and spa, but Northern Ireland’s tallest mountain, whose base lies at the south end of Newcastle. While guides claim it’s a strenuous five-hour hike to the summit, I’ve done it in less than four, and can’t say I found it “strenuous”. Nevertheless, pack a lunch and plan it as a day’s activity. If you’re lucky, you’ll make the summit on a clear day, and be able to see the Isle of Man with ease. Guide books claim that you can also see Scotland and Wales, but I guess I never climbed it on a clear enough day.
If anyone suggests caving, or camping out in one of the caves along the coastal cliffs just to the south of Newcastle, give it a pass. Back during my counselor days, one of the other counselors, convinced a small gang of us to cave camp during on of our off weekends. Was a decent size cave, with more than enough room for the eight of us, but damp, chilly and a bit odoriferous due to rotting seaweed. A fire took care of those problems, but then the tide started coming in… and the cave bugs came out.
First just a couple, then a few dozen, followed by a few hundred, which quickly multiplied into the thousands. One of the girls screamed when one of those first hundred got into her mouth, and all of us were about whimpering with horror and disgust by the time we escaped. There was talk off leaving bright-boy counselor behind, but for some reason we let him live. He ended up buying us rounds at The Anchor for the rest of the summer.
Sounds like something out of an 80’s teen horror movie, indeed, but good memories from Newcastle, thankfully left as memories. Of the appropriate age to not have to deal with cave camping and bugs again.