Bere Island

Bere Island Trip with a parkrun

Another Day in Paradise

Saturday was yet another beautiful day and we jumped in the car before 8:00am as we had a ferry to catch. The road from Coomkeen on the Sheep’s Head Peninsular is a challenge in itself, as it is a winding single track that is very steep in places with the possibility of meeting a large vehicle coming towards me at any moment. The views over Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island were breath-taking and the day felt full of promise. As we headed down through Bantry and onto Glengarriff the whole coastline sparkled in the warm May sunshine.

We took the R572 from Glengarriff and headed towards Castletown Berehaven where the ferry for Bere Island would leave at 9:00am. The landscape changes down here and the rugged Caha mountains of the Beara Peninsular dominate the views.

Castletown Berehaven Harbour
Bere Island Ferry special parkrun service

The Ferry & Bus

We parked the car and boarded the ferry with plenty of time to spare - about two and a half minutes by my reckoning – and handed over our 10 euros each for the parkrun special service. It was a short trip over to Bere Island’s West End where two minibuses were waiting to transport us to the parkrun. The buses were of the self-drive variety, so two of our fellow ferry passengers climbed aboard to do the driving. It almost felt that I might have been asked to drive if nobody else had been available. The island's high road was bumpy and our spirits were high as we all looked forward to a glorious parkrun.

parkrun - the dream

We arrived at Rerrin and we were rerrin to run (sorry). The field wasn’t large because a lot of the islanders were away on Clare Island for the All-Island Gaelic Football Tournament. The small field headed eastwards with a bunch of enthusiastic kids charging off as fast as they could run. Of course, even youngsters can’t sprint an entire 5 kilometres, so they had to eventually slow down for a breather. Now it was the time for the more mature runners, for whom sprinting is but a distant memory, to gradually reel them in. Learning to spread your limited reserves of energy over a 5K course is something that improves with age – just as well something does.

“Am I now implying that I have reached an age of wisdom? I wonder how long this delusion will last.”

Of course, parkrun is not a competitive event, as it is all about enjoying the company and the scenery. So why did I start getting ideas in my head after the first kilometre, that there weren’t that many people ahead of me and that I was well amongst the first 10 and perhaps even the first 5 runners. This was my final parkrun in my current age bracket as I would hit 65 on Thursday next week. I started to imagine a top 5 finish for the first time ever and possibly 1st in my age bracket. By now the field had really thinned out and I couldn’t see a runner in front or behind me.

Bere Island Map

parkrun - the reality

“Perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention to the lady who explained the course to us before we started running.”

I was now well into my running as I started a descent and headed down to a coastal inlet and the run continued along by the rocky shoreline. I’d caught up with one of the younger runners, so I knew I was still on the course. As we passed several buildings, I was still dreaming of my top 5 finish and how I was going to celebrate it. We passed a jetty area and continued to run along the road and eventually we started to go uphill. Actually, it was quite a steep hill and my internal parkrunometer was starting to suggest that this was one of those slightly longer than normal parkruns.

“As long as the coastline is on my left-hand side what can possibly go wrong?”

I kept looking out for a route down to the start/finish area, but the climbs were getting steeper and there was no sign of the changing rooms or the minibuses.

“It’s a bit odd that I haven’t seen any other runners for a while given that runners wear tops that are visible from space”

I decided we should retrace some of our steps to check with the runners behind us that we were still on course. We stood aside as a car passed us on the single-track lane and I asked the driver through his open window if he knew where the parkrun finish was. Fortunately, he did, and he pointed towards some buildings away in the distance and he suggested we hop in for a lift back to Rerrin. We accepted his very kind offer and he delivered us back to Rerrin to be greeted by the other parkrunners who were wondering what had happened to us.

So much for a top 5 finish, but I reckon I’d run the best part of 8K and got a lift of about 3K before I crossed the line in just over 1 hour. I know parkrun is not competitive, but I think 01:03:05 is a pretty good time for an 8K run plus getting a lift back to the start. I’ve also left plenty of scope for a PB when I return to Bere Island to run the official parkrun route sometime in the future.

On a positive note, the noble sacrifice of our finishing times and places meant that Sam was 10th finisher which she was very happy with and may have mentioned to me once or twice. I have reminded her that parkrun is strictly non-competitive and that times and positions are unimportant.

"Now I wonder when the next All-Island Gaelic Football Tournament will be held?"

A wild swim and an amble back to the ferry.

We wanted to spend a bit more time on Bere Island so we deliberately missed the minibus back to the ferry and wandered over to the swim spot at Cloughland pier. There were a number of islanders already enjoying the refreshing clear water and we really needed to cool down after our efforts. I spotted a comb jellyfish in the water for the first time in my life.

We then had a walk of about 8 Km (a familiar distance) from Rerrin back to the West End of Bere Island, to catch a ferry back to the mainland. There were great views across to the Caha Mountains as we wandered along enjoying the weather and peace of the island.

Cloughland Strand & Pier
Caha Mountains
Bere Island Ferry

We caught the ferry back to Castletown Berehaven and headed to the tea shop for a drink and cakes. If you are a park runner this should definitely be on your bucket list and I certainly intend for return for the sheer pleasure of it, and perhaps to get a new PB, purely non-competitively of course.

Castletown Berehaven Harbour
View from Ferry towards Caha Mountains
Sam & Friend in Castletown Berehaven