Inis Mor03 November, 2017 Inis Mór, Scotland
Sometimes, we are so eager to escape we run to far flung destinations and overlook what lies in our own back garden. With that in mind I declined the excitement of airports and instead opted for a modest boat bound for Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands off Ireland's western coast. Boasting a population of 800 the island is a geographical extension of the famous limestone rocks of The Burren. The first brush with the Atlantic on the ferry across was as good as any plane lifting from a runway. Sturdy waves rocked the boat as the mainland grew more distant and the islands appeared on the horizon. A sense of remoteness and community await when you land.
Three main roads run around and through the island connected by a series of bothríns. Most of the best vantage points require hiking to. With a landscape latticed by long limestone rocks and patchwork fields enclosed by dry stone walls it doesn't take long to become engrossed in the geology and geography of this island. The prehistoric fort of Dun Aengus is the most famous attraction on the island, but literally going off the beaten track leads to equally if not more rewarding gems. The cliffs south of Dun Aengus offer a prime location to view the sun rise and set.
Standing here watching the sea pounding into the face of the sheer edges of the island is simultaneously hypnotic and rejuvenating
Limestone sleepers embedded into the earth guide you to the cliff edge and carry your view to the Atlantic beyond. Standing here watching the sea pounding into the face of the sheer edges of the island is simultaneously hypnotic and rejuvenating. Every wave brings a new pattern, shape and colour arrangement with it. One of the best trademarks of Inis Mór are it's stone walls. Miles of them divide the island into plots and frame the roads. Perfectly assembled they are a testament to those who built them and deserve pause for thought and admiration through the camera lens. Take a hike along the cliffs, climbing over these walls (just be sure to leave them intact!) to find yourself at the famous Wormhole or Poll na bPeist, home of the Red Bull diving competition. If you have a head for heights get as near to the edge as you dare and enjoy it at it's best, remote and to yourself. Scattered across the island are an array of historic architectural sites worth visiting. Dun Aengus, the Seven Churches and Teampall Bheanain, reputedly the smallest chapel in Europe.
Elements collide on Inis Mór as the raging Atlantic meets one of it's first ports of call in Europe. If you're willing to embrace it's unpredictability in return you get to see it's magic.