Lin wanted to go to a Greek island. I wanted to tour Wales. And Ireland. In the end, we both got our way. I think you call it win-win. We had enjoyed a pretty packed year of touring during 2022, so when Lin told me she had helped organise a late summer week on Kefalonia with a small group of friends (“for a complete break”), how could I possibly say no? 

But that also opened up the opportunity for some subsequent out-of-season campervan touring. The October half-term holiday would be the next available slot. 

So, Celtic Routes. It’s a story that goes way back to when Irish settlers left the fifth-century Ogham stones along the Welsh coast, and Wales, in turn, gave Ireland St Patrick (or so the legend has it). 

Today, Celtic Routes is one of those cleverly devised ‘touring initiatives’ that might look a bit off-putting on first acquaintance, but soon has you completely hooked.

We only gave ourselves a week away, but the list marked ‘Things to Do’ still encompassed the following: Neolithic burial chamber, a ferry crossing, a sprinkling of castles, a world-famous crystalware factory, some good meals out – and three festivals. Actually, they might not all have been on our list at the beginning, but they’re the experiences we brought home with us. 

Thinking of embarking on your own tour? Then be sure to check out our best campervan guide, so you get the vehicle that’s just right for you.

Coastal Wales

This is a region well-known for its beauty, and if you’re thinking of exploring it, our best motorhome site in Wales guide is sure to help you find the right base.

Our first day was one of meandering, exploring the secluded bays and traditional seaside towns of Ceredigion (formerly the county of Cardiganshire) – generally picking places we’d never visited before, including Llangrannog and New Quay, before enjoying an evening in Aberaeron.

Despite paying for our parking at the former, it was a bitter pill to receive a letter at the start of this year informing us of a £100 fine imposed for a supposed parking offence. 

It seems that, despite buying a ticket which more than covered our time there, we’d waited too long after parking up before making our purchase (apart from the usual challenge of paying via an app, I can’t recall any particular delay). Talking to friends, it seems we’re not the only ones to fall foul of the ‘grace period’. 

Some 10 miles up the coast, driving inland, New Quay – former smugglers’ hideout, shipbuilding centre, and home to poet Dylan Thomas – offered dolphin-spotting boat trips, Blue Flag beaches with watersports, and Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. We eschewed all of that, opting for a brief wander around and noting the likes of The Pepper Pot and The Captain’s Rendezvous as Possible Places To Eat Out. Then the rain hit. 

That was enough to fire us up for some driving around, dropping in on the Cherry Picked Farm Shop on the A487 at Sarnau, and a stop outside a house on an otherwise deserted country lane for homemade marmalade and pickles. 

Our first night was at the Cardigan Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site, perched high up to enjoy sweeping views from the comfort of our ’van (with the heating on – our best campervan heater guide will help you find the right one if you’re on the lookout for one). We may even have spotted a red kite overhead. 

Cardigan Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Pitched up at Cardigan Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site

That was before gathering up enough energy to head the nine miles or so into Aberaeron and settling down for dinner at The Hive, a restaurant specialising in seafood and its own, delicious honey ice cream (hence the name). 

A sunny morning

The weather up to now had been iffy, but the next morning couldn’t have been more generous with its sunshine. It certainly made a trip to Pentre Ifan worthwhile. At 5m long, with a 15-ton capstone, and over 5000 years old, this isolated Neolithic burial chamber is constructed from the same type of Preseli Bluestones that also found their way over from Wales to Stonehenge. 

Man by Neolithic burial chamber
The Neolithic burial chamber at Pentre Ifan dates back some 5000 years

Even though you shouldn’t expect too many visitors here, do note parking is limited to a stretch along the roadside. 

We were lucky with both that and the weather, which later held for the most tranquil ferry crossing from Fishguard to Rosslare. 

Opera in Wexford

From Rosslare, it was into the county and then on to the town. Wexford was the focal point of our week, as we wanted to visit its festivals. 

Each October sees this coastal town hosting not one but two complementary events – Fringe and Opera. There’s even a third, walking, if you can stretch your diary back to late September. 

The beautiful coastal town of Wexford has a great cultural history

The world-renowned Wexford Festival Opera is over 70 years old. For our first experience of opera, we enjoyed a performance of La Tempesta, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. 

We were also rather impressed by the various eateries the town has to offer – everything from a traditional cooked breakfast with a twist at the Trimmers Lane Café, to contemporary Mexican at CDMX, and high-class dining at Green Acres. 

And of course, no shortage of uniquely Irish bars (the Guinness does taste better there). 

We also found Ferrybank Caravan & Camping Park, just over the bridge from the town centre (a 15-minute walk), the perfect launchpad for our days out. No parking to worry about, either. 

Two pints of Guiness
The Guinness really does taste better over in Ireland!

On the fringe

We definitely did more than our fair share of the Fringe Festival. It’s billed as a 17-day, 300-event extravaganza across a miscellany of local galleries, pubs, hotels, restaurants and other venues. 

We took in live music events (including street busking), art exhibitions large and small, craft displays and more – most of it free, too. 

As a bonus, one splendid attraction that you can visit any time while you’re in Wexford is The Book Centre: an independent, traditional bookshop complete with its own café. 

Man pouring tea
Nick relaxes with tea and a good read at The Book Centre in Wexford

There’s something I particularly love about just sitting comfortably in a pleasant spot with a proper pot of tea, surrounded by books. 

Such a relaxing atmosphere – and something that computers simply cannot give you. Far from the madding crowd, and all that. 

To the lighthouse

We could easily have spent the rest of our week in wonderful Wexford, but we had an itinerary, including other campsites to stay at. 

We also had some driving to do, especially the Ring of Hook Coastal Drive. It’s less than an hour in length, but this gorgeous route surrounds you with stunning scenery, offering glimpses of some of the county’s great architectural heritage.

For us, the highlight was Hook Lighthouse, one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world. It’s been standing here for more than 800 years, starting as a beacon tended by monks, later a lamp burning whale oil, then gas-fired, before going electric. These days, it’s fully automated. 

Hook lighthouse
Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest in the world still operating

Our Ring of Hook mini-tour also included Tintern Abbey and Colclough Walled Garden (the latter was closed when we were there, but we still managed to grab impressive glimpses), and the splendidly secluded Dollar Bay, where legend has it that treasure is still buried.

Then it was on to the Passenger East car ferry, over the River Suir from Wexford to Waterford and on to the small coastal town of Dunmore East, for our next overnight stop.

Admittedly, we didn’t see Dunmore East at its best. Seeking refuge over a late afternoon coffee and biscuits in a sea-facing hotel while a fair old storm kicked off outside and rain lashed the windows was never going to be a high point. 

At Dunmore East Caravan Park a key had been left for us in the washblock – otherwise, we were all on our own. This is mainly a statics site, but it was still rather novel (slightly spooky, even) having all of the touring area, including the washblock facilities, to ourselves! 

Dunmore East did give us a springboard to some other attractions in Waterford, though, especially its county town, home to the House of Crystal.
I know I’ve already mentioned the phrase ‘world famous’, but it’s definitely appropriate here. 

An informative factory tour gave great insight into the history of Waterford Crystal, and how pieces are made. There’s also an extensive display of products to view (and purchase). The Crystal Café is pretty wonderful, too.

Equally out of the ordinary was our next stop, an hour’s drive away and going back into County Wexford, for Enniscorthy and its mighty castle. 

Enniscorthy Castle
Enniscorthy Castle houses the Wexford County Museum

No ordinary castle, this. For a start, it’s right by the town centre (parking nearby was almost tricky). These days, it’s the home of the Wexford County Museum – before that, everyone from Norman knights to English armies, Irish rebels and prisoners, and local merchants resided there. You can still see medieval wall art in its dungeon. 

A walk on the beach

Our final overnight stop in Ireland was probably our favourite campsite – but not because it was particularly immaculate and efficient. 

Rather, it was the laid-back nature of it all at Moneylands Farm, just outside Arklow. If you like a more random style of camping (but still with all of the necessary facilities), and the bonus of a café (The Broken Chair) on site, it’s all here. 

We still had a full day ahead of us, which gave plenty of time to take in beautiful Brittas Bay with some rather brisk walking, then Avoca, where you’ll find Ireland’s oldest working weaving mill.

Brittas Bay, some 5km of glorious Blue Flag beach and 100 hectares of sand dunes, proved great for just walking. We even had the whole car park pretty much to ourselves. 

In fact, our main encounter on the beach was with what we thought at first was a stray dog, which seemed to take a liking to us. Turned out it was from one of the few nearby houses. 

Weavers at work

We ended our tour pretty much as we had started, meandering with a bit of purpose. That’s how we stumbled upon Avoca, the mill that eventually took its name from the village here, where you can see traditional weaving in action – and buy the resulting textiles, too.

If our Celtic Routes trip proved one thing, it’s that you don’t have to go as far as you think to get away from the tourist hotspots. Indeed, I’m not sure I can recall any other week when we had so much variety. Going beyond the main season helped in that respect, of course. 

Despite our problem with that fine in Wales, one of the key benefits of touring out of season is never having any difficulties with parking.

Yes, there were a few little gripes. I’d say you do have to be a bit more careful about how you pick your campsites – plenty had closed for winter. 

And then there’s that ferry crossing. Lovely as it was, at £393.20 it’s enough to make you think twice about heading out from the mainland. 

However, all of this is far outweighed by the truly wonderful time we had, exploring such gorgeous places, without travelling that far. 

When to go on the Celtic Routes tour

Let’s face it – you don’t usually go to Wales or Ireland for the weather. Low-season travel suited us, but arguably the areas we covered don’t get that busy at any time of year.

The way to go

From England, it made sense to hit the west coast of Wales (for two days), before getting the 3.5-hour Fishguard-Rosslare Stena Line ferry for the Ireland leg of our trip. We came back on the same route.

Where we stayed

Cardigan Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site

LLwynhelyg, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6LW

  • Open: 31 March – 30 October
  • Charges: £52.10 (two nights)

Ferrybank Caravan & Camping Park

Tincone, Co Wexford Y35 Y184

  • Open: All year
  • Charges: £40 (two nights)

Dunmore East Caravan Park

Dunmore East, Co Waterford X91 FY79

  • Open: March – October
  • Charges: £33.86

Moneylands Farm

Arklow, Co Wicklow Y14 F858

  • Open: All year
  • Charges: £17.54

Find out more

Celtic Routes is the perfect way to link the west of Wales and the east of Ireland, giving you every reason to tour either, or better still, both. The route covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire in Wales, and Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford in Ireland. Wander at will, or look up the best Celtic Highlights, Moments, People & Places, and Trip Ideas on the Celtic Routes website.



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