The Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare is the very picture of Ireland. If you were to list the essential Irish elements – rivers, rocks, cliffs, beaches, sea, sky and open landscapes of green, thorny-flowered scenery – it has them all. In some cases they even merge into one. From your perch at Purecamping, in the tiny village of Querrin, it’s difficult to distinguish sea from river, as the two converge in the raggedly outlined Shannon Estuary. And, in turn, it’s difficult to determine where land meets water, as the Querrin Shore melts in soft marshy fingers into the sea. It’s only natural that such an essentially Irish landscape should sit directly at the halfway point along the Wild Atlantic Way and equally fitting too, that some of the coolest accommodation can be found here.
An eco-conscious campsite with grassy tent pitches, woodland camping and a healthy spread of glamping options, Purecamping is the perfect way-marker as you explore the west coast. Owners Trea and Kevin offer a welcome equal in warmth to their hand built eco-sauna and introduce you to the campsite with all the passion of a couple who have crafted the entire place themselves. And, of course, they have. Passionate about providing a truly natural experience, the couple have transformed an open meadow and four-hectares of native woodland into a real escape for campers who want to hide away from it all. And the result of their handiwork is a pleasure to explore.
Glamping options onsite include fully-furnished bell tents and a timber-clad eco-hut, while the eco-friendly facilities block includes outdoor, recycled rainwater showers and naturally composting toilets. Purecamping still has a family-friendly mix of offerings though, and if you’re looking for modern facilities and immaculate indoor showers then a main sanitary block has all the usual wares you’d expect.
It’s thoughtful touches that show the genuine interest of Trea and Kevin. The ginormous geodesic dome surrounded by tall, wild looking bushes houses a space for kids to play, while the wood-fired pizza oven in the outdoor kitchen, well… what’s not to love about that?! When time allows they even gather anyone interested beneath the morning sun and practice some soothing campsite yoga – Trea is a fully trained Satyananda teacher and will have you flexed out on the yoga mat in no time.
It’s no surprise Purecamping boasts a bounty of awards, including Best Accommodation provider 2014 and a Gold Standard Award from Ecotourism Ireland, but in reality the winning feature here is the location itself (the Loop Head Peninsula won the Irish Times' Best Place to Holiday In Ireland 2013). The long, craggy slice of land that is the Loop Head Peninsula appears remote and somewhat desolate at times, especially when gloomy weather hits, yet scratch the surface and you realise the spectacular scenery is matched by a microcosm bursting with activities. Walking, cycling, sailing, kayaking and coasteering are all interspersed with hours lolling in the Carrigaholt village pub or perched out on cliff top cafés enjoying a morning cuppa. Be sure to make it back by bedtime, though, the star gazing here is not to be missed!
FacilitiesModern toilet block with standard facilities and an eco-block featuring indoor and outdoor showers and composting toilets. Campers' kitchen with wood-fired pizza oven, a gas stove and solar-heated water, plus communal fridges for use in reception. Wi-Fi, a collection of reference books with information on local heritage, and leaflets about the local area also in available in reception. Campsite sauna for use and a 12m geodesic dome with a small play area for the kids and a book exchange. Yoga studio with weekend morning yoga classes. Loop Head Labyrinth for meditation and reflection. 5 hectares of native woodland with woodland trail. Pets in residence include 3 dogs, 3 cats, hens and a cockerel. So, depending on demand, fresh eggs are a possibility! Electric car charging point available. Logs for campfires or the sauna can be purchased onsite but feel free to bring your own.
Suitable ForCampers and glampers. Tents, campervans, groups, families, couples, pets (under control) – yes. Stags, hens and noisy groups – no.
NearbyIt doesn't take long to do a circuit of this whole peninsula by car. The 63km Loop Head Cycleway is a more tranquil way to take it all in. Pedal around the coast stopping in the old fishing villages like Carrigaholt and Kilbaha. Loop Head Lighthouse is perched at its westerly tip. It's a rather solitary spot on the landscape, connected to the rest of the peninsula by a single string of telephone wire that run toward Kilkee. The lighthouse is now open to the public most days (adults €5, children €2, family ticket €12). In Kilkee, the real hub of the area, there's a fantastic Blue Flag beach, a cluster of decent eateries and cafés, water sports activities (00353 86 330 8236), and popular walks from the pier along the shoreline. Dolphin watching (00353 65 905 8156) and horse riding (00353 86 226 4447) are also available within a ten minutes drive – ask Trea and Kevin for details.
Food & DrinkIt's a bit of a drive to the nearest pub, which is The Long Dock (00353 65 905 8106), in Carrigaholt, about 8km away. Kilkee is relatively equidistant and has some lovely restaurants including, as you near the town, Keanes Oyster Bar (00353 65 905 6302), more centrally, Murphy Blacks Restaurant (00353 65 905 6854) and, with top views of the bay, The Strand Bistro and Guesthouse (00353 65 905 6177). For a lighter bite though, The Diamond Rocks Cafe (00353 65 908 3812) also has incredible views over the cliffs where you can see the natural rock formation that gives the caff its name.
May – September.
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