It is safe to say that camping is not one of my favourite activities. Even when the camping is upgraded to ‘glamping’, it is still going to take something extraordinary to tear me away from a nice luxury hotel.
So when the nice people at Feather Down asked me if I would like to try out their latest offering in Clare, I was somewhat hesitant, but nevertheless off I went. My husband was excited to go, presumably thinking that he was ‘Man The Hunter’ and the idea of living off the land appealed to him. My children were excited at the thought of crab hunting, torches, and a lighthouse. Me? Excited? Not so much……! So Friday evening rolled around, perhaps quicker than I would have liked. We loaded more luggage than necessary into the car and like Ossie and Tayto with kids in tow, we headed “Into The West”.
Kevin and Trea are the owners of Pure Camping, a very well equipped, award winning and evidently popular campsite in the small village of Querrin, 7 kilometers from Kilkee in County Clare. If I said that Querrin is on the south side of Loop Head, that might give you a better idea of its location. Pure Camping is a terrific retreat and combines rest and relaxation with a ‘getting away from it all’ kind of feel. Also, Trea is a qualified yoga instructor and offers classes on site, so if thats your thing……
The Feather Down Farm ethos of providing space for people and a departure from their hectic lives is commonly known around Europe, but this is their first site in Ireland. They provide space for families and friends to take part in activities that don’t involve a screen in front of your face! It is somewhere people can give each other full attention without distractions, this is also in keeping with the Pure Camping ethos. So out of this coming together, came two ‘Frills’ tents from Feather Down located in the ‘Orchard’ on the Pure Camping land. Being the only two in Ireland, they are aptly titled “Feather Down, Loop Head”.
As we left the motorway behind us, we drove onto gradually smaller, narrower roads and eventually arrived about three hours later at Pure Camping, our home for the next two nights. Kevin met us at the bottom of the laneway and gave us a brief chat about the highlights of the area. From the local pier and crab-hunting, to the dolphin watching which left daily from Carrigaholt, which is “just out the road”.
Then, led by candlelight, our enthusiastic host showed us to our tent. As I type the word tent, I realise this does not adequately describe what we were led to. Real beds, a couch, a six-seater table, a small stove, running water and most importantly, an INDOOR TOILET. Kevin’s enthusiasm for the place was absolutely contagious. All he kept saying was, “Wait ’til ye see it lads!” about every aspect of the so called “tent”. Meanwhile I was having my own Meryl Streep/Out of Africa moment. It wasn’t camping, it wasn’t ‘glamping’. All it needed was Robert Redford and I was set! We even had an outdoor shower with unlimited hot water! This was camping in style, comfort and warmth, and not a sniff of damp in the air.
After being shown around by Kevin, my husband and daughter made their way down to the local pub/shop/restaurant/undertaker/mechanic to get some supplies. It is about 5 kilometres away at the crossroads where you turn for Pure Camping, so best get your own supplies on the way in. Although I think my husband had a sneaky pint with my five year old whilst there! Anyway, we lit the fire/stove and twenty minutes later we were cooking by candlelight.
After a great nights sleep in very comfortable beds, the kids took off exploring. There were lots of other children to play with, who were staying in tents on the Purecamping grounds. The facilities on site are excellent. There is a large indoor playhouse and plenty of open fields for kids to play and kick ball. They have a pizza oven where kids ( and adults) are encouraged to make their own pizzas. This is a good way to meet your fellow campers too!
At night time everyone gathered around the large campfire, some cooking fish that they had caught that day, others toasting marshmallows. There was plenty of beer and wine, starry skies and best of all – plenty of chat.
There is lots to do around Loop Head. The highlight for the kids being a visit to the Loop Head lighthouse, were we got to climb the seventy metres to the top. On a clear day, you can see the Blasket Islands in Kerry we were told. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour when we visited, with low cloud and fog rolling in off the Atlantic. When you walk west out from the lighthouse to the cliff edge, you will be standing on the most westerly point of the country or in other words, the nearest point of Ireland to the United States of America, 6,000 plus kilometers away.
After the lighthouse, we made our way to Keatings Bar and Restaurant for some lunch. Billed as the last pub before New York, they serve great seafood and pubgrub, so well worth a stop. After lunch it was back in the car for the short drive to the Bridges of Ross, a naturally formed sea arch near the village of Kilbaha. There used to be three but two have since succumbed to the force of the sea. Still worth a visit though and you’ll get some scenic and rugged pictures whilst you are there. It is the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, after all….
After a good walk and getting a little wind blown, it was back to the car and back to Feather Down Loop Head. We got some more supplies in Kilrush and made another meal on our stove. There is a BBQ on site too and a large picnic table outside your tent so depending on the weather, you can eat inside or out. It’s amazing what you can cook with a frying pan and a hot stove!
Next morning, whilst the kids were playing outside, we packed up our belongings, loaded the car and said our goodbyes to our hosts, Trea and Kevin. Sad that we could not have stayed the third night, but we had to get back to Dublin. En route we passed Trump Doonbeg, we simply had to pay a visit. I am not a fan of the man, but this luxury beach hotel in Doonbeg is fabulous. We had lunch in the golf club which was not only substantial but affordable too. You need to be a hotel guest if you wish to eat in the hotel though. After a brief wander around the grounds, we were on the long road home.
The luxury Doonbeg hotel and the Pure Camping campsite are worlds apart in their offerings but both unique in their own ways. The Feather Down tent reminded me of time we spent in Tanzania before our children were born. Tanzania is still one of my favourite holidays and anything that reminds me of it comes out ‘Trumps‘ for me. Sorry Donald, Feather Down wins this election!
For more information, visit the Feather Down website.