Ireland day 0743. Wednesday 11 October 2023- Beara day 1 *

Ireland day 0743. Wednesday 11 October 2023- Beara day 1
Today’s summary A wet start to the day so headed over to Allehies to visit the copper mines museum.   Had a good look round and had lunch in the adjoining café.  Then when the rain stopped, did a looped walk around the Coppermines trail
Today’s weather Torrential rain starting about 10 o’clock last night and running on all day until mid afternoon today.  Brighter in the late afternoon, and the rain stopped.   Moderate north easterly wind.   Appx 15c
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The blue line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Allehies coppermines loop walk - short

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

Shortly after I went to bed last night, I heard a strange sound from the roof overhead.   And then I awoke with a start as a brilliant flash of light flooded the room.   I thought for a moment that I was having a stroke, but soon came to my senses and realised that actually it was just a thunderstorm and the rain was clattering down onto the roof.   That heralded the start of a deluge that lasted a full 18 hours until late afternoon today, leaving the peninsula soaked.

We decided that discretion was the better part of valour, so rather than brave the elements and head out on an epic walk, we decided to drive to the other side of the peninsula to visit the coppermines museum in the colourful village of Allehies (featured in the banner image at the top of this blog).

The museum celebrated the period from around 1825 to the late 1800s, when the area was a hive of activity, and the epicentre of Ireland’s biggest copper mining industry.   All around, there are the ruins of old mineworkings and pumping-heads, which look strangely similar to those you can see attached to the old Cornish tin mines.   That’s not entirely surprising, actually, as hundreds of mine workers moved over from the Cornish tin mines to work the Irish copper mines in Allehies.

The mine workings were extensive, extending to depths of 400 metres and more, some 280m of which were below sea level.   It was brutal work, but evidently lucrative, at least until the reserves ran out towards the end of the 19th century, at which point many of the miners upped sticks and emigrated in search of pastures new at Butte, Montana.

Once we had learned as much as we reasonably could about copper mining, we had a delicious and relatively healthy lunch at the museum café (at least the seafood chowder felt healthy, though the coffee and walnut cake probably a bit less so).   Suitably re-energised, we headed outside where we were delighted to discover that it had finally sopped raining, and embarked on a short loop walk around a part of the coppermines trail.

The path takes you down to the coast, and the beach where quartzite spoil was dumped on the beach while ore was loaded onto boats, which took it to Swansea in Wales for smelting.   It then heads north along the clifftops, and as you make your way round, the seascapes open up with magnificent views over to the Co and Bull rocks, and the Skellig Michael and Skellig Beag islands.

At the norther end, the path meets the road briefly and at this point we elected to return down the tarmac to Allehies and the waiting cars.   The extra bit up to the Mountain Mine will have to wait for another day.   A 25 minute drive saw us back at the cottage in time to watch the sunset over the islands from our living room – noting that it sets considerably later here than it does in Dublin, as a result of the westerly longitude.   Now it’s time to finish off the chilli and rice from last night, and to crack open a well-deserved beer.  A proper holiday day, all round!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

The Allihies Copper mines museum – it’s built in an old Methodist chapel and as well as a museum, there’s a really good café Multidirectional signpost – the Beara Way is supposed to be one of the most attractive in Ireland.   More scenic, possibly, than the Wicklow Way and much quieter – but a lot of road walking involved
Ballydonenegan beach, at Allehies.   It’s made from the quartzite spoil from the coppermines.   Makes you appreciate the scale of the operation On the coppermines loop walk, alongside the coast.   Superb vistas, especially as the clouds lifted so e could see the tops of the surrounding hills
Looking north west towards the Skellig islands – Skellig Michael on the left, and Skellig Beag on the right Looking north across the Kenmare River sound to the Ring of Kerry
The museum is small, but full of interesting displays and historical insights
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 6432 m
Max elevation: 58 m
Min elevation: 3 m
Total climbing: 183 m
Total descent: -183 m
Total time: 02:06:06
Download file: Allehies copper mines walk short version compressed corrected.gpx

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