A spread of smoked Irish salmon, local oysters, seafood chowder, fish & chips and a few pints of Guinness was the reward waiting for the four of us at the end of our Saturday hike along the ramparts of Kinsale harbor on what's known as the Scilly Walk.
The idea of taking this amazing hike started as we were leaving Fishy Fishy Seafood restaurant on Friday afternoon. We asked celebrity seafood chef, Martin Shanahan, what sights should be seen on our visit to Kinsale.
Martin grabbed me by the elbow outside the restaurant's front door and pointed to the trailhead across the harbor. "Start over there tomorrow morning and follow the trail markers. It's a lovely hike," he said. He also pointed out the noteworthy pubs found along the way.
On Saturday morning around 10:30, we followed Martin's advice and started hiking up the hillside trail. At the top, we stopped at the pub called The Spaniard.
Its a very old bar named after Juan Del Aquila, the Spanish General who commanded an army of 3,000 plus Spaniards which landed at Kinsale in 1601 to team up their Irish allies. The force was attacked by some 10,000 English soldiers in the Siege of Kinsale (October 1601 to January 1602), the ultimate battle in the English conquest of Ireland.
Inside the Spaniard, we sat near a roaring fire in the pub's rustic interior. (When's the last time you saw actual sawdust on the floor of a bar?) Kelly had tea, Joe and Ava had cokes, and I had the first beer of the day. Son Joe likes to drink his Coca-Cola from a pint glass and pretend it's stout. The pub was so cozy we had very little motivation to keep going.
But it was only eleven and too early to go home. Besides, Martin had told us that the Bulman Bar at the end of the trail was where we wanted to eat lunch. So we gathered ourselves and pressed on. Once outside, a nearby Walking Tour sign pointed the way.
The name "Scilly Walk" cracked me up. Nobody else in my family is old enough to remember the Monty Python bit about the Ministry of Silly Walks. Jn it, John Cleese struts around like a madman demonstrating new government approved ways of silly walking. I wonder if any old Monty Python fans in Kinsale were involved in naming this hiking trail.
In fact, the Scilly area of Kinsale is an upscale neighborhood along the bay where some of the priciest homes in this part of Ireland can be seen. The Scilly Walking Tour offers great views of the exclusive homes in this posh neighborhood as well as views out over the city and the bay. The winding entrance to Kinsale harbor forced approaching ships to sail between the guns and cannons of Charles Fort and James Fort located across from each other on either side of a narrow passage.
Kinsale's leading historic attraction, Charles Fort, includes some twenty acres of military installations at the end of the bay in the village of Summercove. The star-shaped fort is built on a point with a commanding view of the surrounding waters. Built by the British in the 17th century, the fort was still in use up until 1922.
The Scilly walk is an easy stroll, it's less than an hour from Kinsale out to Bulman Bar, where we ate our awesome lunch. And a little longer to Charles Fort at the end of the trail.
You can turn around and walk back to town, or ask your waiter at Bulman Bar to call you a cab.