A Floral Wonderland

Another sunny day, another little Irish road trip. After allowing for the sun to move to a more comfortable angle we embarked on a journey to a place described by many as a jewel of summer. A valley with sweeping vantage and floral delights. After collecting fellow explorers in Cullen, Tipperary, car now full we carried onwards to our destination, an area known as the Vee. Even though the trip began with a destination in mind and delivered the advertised splendor, I found as I often do the more unexpected and modest discoverers were the most memorable and honestly stunning.

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The Vee’ refers to a V-shaped turn on the road leading to a gap in the Knockmealdown mountains. The pass from Tipperary to Waterford runs between Knockaunabulloga, on which you will find the glimmering pool that is Bay Lough and the Sugar Loaf, two mountain ranges, with wonderfully eccentric Irish names.

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The Vee is famous for its breathtaking panoramic views and rises to about 2,000 feet (610m) above sea level. It gives wonderful views of a portion of the ‘Golden Vale’ between the Knockmealdown and Galtee Mountain Ranges. On a clear day the Vee offers views across the valley to Clonmel, Cahir, Ardfinnan, Clogheen, Ballyporeen and even Cashel if your lucky, the expanse and altitude makes for an incredible sight worthy of a long sit to take it all in, ideal picnic location. You can also see the Galtee Mountains across the valley, the Comeragh Mountains along the valley and Slievenamon, behind Clonmel, quite clearly.

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We embarked on viewing this wondrous place for ourselves and it is a pity we chose a little late in the season so the rhododendrons were not at their best and beginning to die off but none the less they were still spectacular and created quite the visual effect. It seemed that everywhere 15we looked was awash in purple, tiny flowers barely distinguishable individually formed vast collections of thick and multi shaded purple mass that covered the ground, cover hill sides and bare earth around trees and road sides. At one point we were driving down the road when suddenly the banks rose to create an earthen tunnel with trees the leaned and closed in the roof, the predominant feature however despite this beauty was the abundance of purple. The sudden and complete dominance of the colour and its claim to the landscape, it was truly an unimaginable sight and one that I could not using my phone camera adequately capture by any means.

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We stopped so many times, at any point really that allowed for the car to pull off the road. We hiked up to Grubbs monument, climbed a little of some of the mountains, lay in the grass and washed our hands in the ice cold stream.

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On the return journey we pulled in one last time and ventured into the forest. This was just beautiful too. Towering tree, lush silhouettes casting long shadows from the descending sun, stretching up endlessly into the air, bare trunks that were being guarded on the ground by even more vibrant purple rhododendrons. Amazing to behold.

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We drove back ‘the scenic route’ even though I find it hard to imagine any route being anything other than scenic. We drove a little through the Glen of Atherlow and stopped to take in the powerful sight of the Galtee mountains of Tipperary. A sight I have grown up close to and still admire.

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The whole day trip really was in admiration of nature and appreciation of some of the hidden and off road wonders of rural Ireland. Their will be many more trips like this to come over the summer, I can feel it.

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Discover what lies off the beaten path, marvel at what you find but remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints behind.

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