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Beach, Bar, Campsite … I died and went to Camper Heaven

Beach, Bar, Campsite … I died and went to Camper Heaven

Camper Heaven – blue skies living at The Beach Bar in Aughris Head, Sligo. ‘The place has palm trees and Ben Bulben as a backdrop for heaven’s sake, a full menu from midday and fresh crispy pints served al fresco with your food. With flood alerts in the south of the country the north-west was positively balmy with blue Californian skies.’

In the summer of 2020 we were all chomping at the bit to hit the road post lockdown. After a few false starts, June 29th was signalled as the date the country would open up for internal travel and the dawn of the #staycation.
To get to a beach, to find a bar that was open, or to secure a much sought after space on a campsite were all daunting tasks. Any of the three would be a challenge, to score a hat-trick seemed well-nigh to impossible.

So to wake up in a campsite right next to a glorious beach, beside a pub-restaurant aptly called, The Beach Bar appeared to be a mirage, a miracle in this strangest of summers.

I died and went to Camper Heaven and woke up in Aughris Head in Sligo.

I had heard fables of such a place; rumours, whispers, but could they possibly be true?

 

Beach 2BBAr 2BAughris 2BHead 2Bsign
Beach 2BBar 2B3 2Bcampers 2Bin 2Bthe 2Bsun
Beach 2BBar 2B5
Beach 2BBAr 2B4
Beach 2BBAr 2B1
Beach 2BBAr 2Band 2Bdog 2Bin 2Bbasket

 

Beach 2BBAr 2Bsurf 2Bboard
Beach 2BBar 2BRiver
Beach 2BBAr 2Bpier
Beach 2BBAr 2BWAW 2Bsign

 

Beach 2BBar 2BChat

 

And they were. To add to our good fortune, we unwittingly arrived at the Beach Bar Campingjust 24-hours before the authorities announced the local #LOKdown for Laois, Offaly and Kildare.

We were to spend the next fortnight on the road in a series of excellent campsites in Rossnowlagh,Killybegs, Crolly and Downings, but could easily, and were most tempted to, stay put in the idyllic Beach Bar Camping in rural Sligo.

The place has palm trees and Ben Bulben as a backdrop for heaven’s sake, a full menu from midday and fresh crispy pints served al fresco with your food. With flood alerts in the south of the country the north-west was positively balmy with blue Californian skies.

 

Bach 2BBAr 2Bvans 2Band 2Bpalms
Beach 2BBAr 2BBBQ
Beach 2BBar 2BBeauty
Beach 2BBAr 2BCAlifornia
Beach BAr cuddly dog
Beach 2BBar 2BGrazyna 2Band 2Bsports 2Bcar
Beach 2BBAr 2Bhappy 2Bdog
Beach 2BBar 2Bloo 2Bwith 2Ba 2Bview
Beach 2BBAr 2Bmore 2Bmotorhomes
Beach 2BBar 2Bmotorhomes 2Bin 2Ba 2Brow
Beach 2BBAr 2Bmotorhomes
Beach 2BBAr 2Boutdoor
Beach 2BBar 2Bpalms

This is Yeats County. Cyclists and horsemen pass by. But this is surfing country.

The last time I was in these parts Chuck Berry headlined the festival in neighbouring Ballisodare (1981). Bizarrely, on that occasion I had to explain to the security staff that Peter Starstedt was indeed a performer and entitled to go backstage. Ok, he was a one hit wonder, but it was a damn good one…

Where do you go to my lovely’ when you are looking for a great spot to camp up and chill out following a four-month lockdown, but the Beach Bar campsite in Sligo.

 

Beach 2BBAr 2B3
Beach 2BBAr 2Bcycling
Beach 2BBAr 2BWAW 2Bsign
Beazch 2BBAr 2Bcyclists

 

Sandwiched in between Strandhilland Easkey villages, with Enniscrone just down the road on the Sligo coast, The Beach Bar Campsiteis its own hive and hub of activity with the small and sheltered beach, coastal walks and paths, and some ideal cycling options all to hand. (You can hire a wet suit and Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) gear for €30 for two hours). Sligo and Ballina are within easy striking distance.

Easkey deserves a special mention.

Within cycling distance of Aughris Head (16km) it has really got its act together, a worthy stop-off in its own right, with an impressive community hub campsite in the middle of the village. You can check it out here: http://www.easkey.ie/CaravanPark.html

 

Beach 2BBAr 2Bcamper 2Bcrossing 2Briver
Beach 2BBAr 2BEaskey 2BRiver
Beach 2BBar 2Bswimming 2Bspot 2Bat 2BEaskey
Beach 2BBar 2Bwild 2Bcamping

There are river walks, picnic areas, angling (by permit), surfing, an open water swimming pool on the shoreline, lots of vantage points and popular wild camping spots, places to explore and Pudding Row deli, which saved the day with its excellent fayre on the Sunday we visited, when everywhere else was closed. Up on the headland the village’s public toilets were exemplary and clearly well maintained. Top marks all round to Easkey!

Back in Aughris, The Beach Bar Camping is a cosy and friendly spot, a family run business. Everyone is busy playing their part, even the charming rescue dogs, Penny, Casey and the friendly Rottweiler Bobby that are knocking about. It’s popular with families, and if you don’t fancy camping they also run the B&B next door.

It’s a simple and basic formula, but a winning one.

A field out front of the pub, which faces the snug beach through a grove of palm trees with Ben Bulben keeping watch across the Bay and the bright lights of Sligo twinkling in the dusk beyond. Days like this it could as easily be California. Staycations we could soak up any day.

 

 

Bach 2BBAr 2Bchick 2B1
Bach 2BBAr 2Bvans 2Band 2Bpalms
Beach 2BBar 2Bbreaky
Beach 2BBAr 2BcrowdsBeach 2BBAr 2Bdog 2Bat 2Bred 2Bdoor
Beach 2BBAr 2Bhappy 2Bdog
Beach 2BBar 2Bpic
Beach 2BBar 2BPUb

There is an over-flow hard-stand area to the rear of the premises, which wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but was also busy.

The cost is €15 per night and a fiver extra if you want electricity (EHU). There are toilet facilities and showers available 24/7 operated off a metre which takes €1 and €2 coins. There is also refuse disposal, recycling and a cassette disposal point.

 

Beach 2BBAr 2Boverflow

 

For honours the site could do with a few more EHU’s and fresh water points, with proper signage for waste disposal and perhaps relocate the cassette disposal from the rear of the building to a more suitable point, also clearly signed, to deter some from using the toilets for this purpose.

There is a good easy-going vibe here. The kids were all happy milling about, day-trippers mingled with the camping residents. To their credit the staff busied themselves to keep the show on the road and maintain Covid alert cleaning and protocols.

With a localised lockdown in force back home it all seemed a little surreal, a mythical place.

A sheltered beach, blue skies, palm trees and just then on Sunday evening when you think it can’t get any better, a cadre of traditional musicians roll up to celebrate one of their birthdays. Their tunes wafted into the evening air by the shore. You couldn’t script it.

 

Beach 2BBAr 2Bseisiun

Camping at Aughris Head, a Garden of Eden for motorhomes, with its very own pub across the road… Camper Heaven.

 

SEE ALSO: Lar Lynch and the great white lie at the heart of the #staycation

 

 

About The Author

John Whelan

John Whelan is a vastly experienced midlands based journalist and editor who has contributed extensively to the country's leading national and regional titles, as well as broadcast outlets. He runs the media services company, Communicate Ireland www.communicateireland.ie. John is a keen camping and campervan enthusiast with an interest in music, culture, heritage and outdoor pursuits. He has written for the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Woman's Way on these topics. He is also an author, and his latest book, The Last Beekeeper, reflects his love of nature, the landscape and our shared responsibility to protect the environment. The Last Beekeeper is available to preview and purchase at www.thelastbeekeeper.ie. Safe travels...

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