Spindrift bowls across the sea in all directions as our ferry pulls into Rosslare – at last. Delayed from leaving Fishguard, we then suffered a gut lurching four hours where the captain had to go north into the Irish Sea for safety reasons rather than diagonally across to Rosslare. More than ever, I can see why the Greeks thought spindrift was the goddess Leukothea working to preserve seafarers’ lives. We had need of her today.
But the beautiful silence of Norman View Campsite on the edge of the Hook Peninsula’s Fethard on Sea, makes up for it, the sun setting in peach and lilac across Bannow Bay. The next morning we’re up for a day of rambling along the Norman Way, the sun out, the wind gusting, it feels like spring is here.
The Norman Way charts the arrival and impact of the Normans on County Wexford and we’re off to disappear back into the mists of history to follow it.
A kilometre from the campsite is sheltered Baginbun Beach, which lies on Bannow Bay.
A noticeboard tells us the rhyme, “At the creek of Baginbun, Ireland was lost and won.” The Normans landed here in 1169. Norman fortifications can still be seen on Baginbun Head, but it wasn’t the first fort here, the first was a Celtic one dating from the iron age (500BC-500AD). Finally, a Martello Tower, built in the Napoleonic Wars, still overlooks the beach. Ironically, we’re serenaded by a song thrush as we read of this turbulent history.
But the real star of Baginbun is the beach, the water is a slate-jade, the sand is fine and silky. Siltstones and shale rock formations lie in layers or are folded into canine teeth jutting out of the sand.
We watch a man and woman run down from the Wild Café and Sauna into the sea, shiver, splash around and run back up to the sauna, on repeat.
“You’re brave,” I say.
“Stupid more like,” the man laughs.
We follow a walking trail to Carnivan Beach on the other side of Baginbun Head and the sea is wild in comparison, surfers are riding those giant waves. Luckily for them Leukothea is back with her spindrift dervishes whirling across the waters.
Baginbun Head itself is a wonderful wild place, carpeted in the spongiest grass in the world. I once bounced on a waterbed lawn in a French garden exhibition and it was great fun, but nothing beats the natural, real deal and I bounce like a five year old among the meadow pipits as they duck and dive around me.
The headland is overlooked by the Martello Tower, and is also carpeted with sphagnum moss, sedge and succulents.
Even the seed heads of ordinary cow parsley are a work of art – like little starbursts silvered by the sun.
I pull Himself away from the cliff edge time after time as he’s charting his inner David Bailey trying to get the perfect shot of the surfers and racing waves on the beach far below. With that in mind I decide to steer him towards the Ring of Hook and safer waters.
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