Saturday 14 September 2019

A trip to the north of Co. Donegal

We were looking forward to going on this trip for a long time... so many people had talked to us about the wild beauty of this area that we knew the north of Donegal would be our trip of the summer.

And so it was!!!

And we all loved it!!! The dog included (she made the trip with us, of course!)

As we always do, we planned the trip in advance: checked a few must-see places and a few we'll-do-our-best-to-see places and then some if-we-have-time-to-see places.

Of course, we ended up going to the hadn't-heard-of-it places, because all plans are made to be broken, aren't they?

First things first: the bad stuff: the weather... how can I put it??? mmmh.... It was BAAAAD. 

...but we acted as if we were living the perfect summer break - sunbathing and all ;-)))

And now the good part: let's explain the "awesomeness" of the trip. We made up a route that covered some of the gems –some hidden and some others already popular– around the place were we were staying (Derrybeg, on the coast). Let me show you in this video:


1) Derrybeg: it was our base, where our Airbnb house/home was.

The village is very little, but Port Arthur beach –walking distance from the village– was just perfect for us. We went there a few evenings to wind down after our long exciting days playing Indiana Jones (or Gene Kelly in I'm singing in the rain, depending on the day). Sometimes the sky was orange, sometimes it was pink. Always superb!

2) Dunfanaghy: a nice coastal village with a lovely holiday atmosphere (at least in the summer). It's full of cozy cafés, lovely little shops, some restaurants and a few sports businesses. It is perfectly located to make the first pit stop, have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake (or a burger and fries, depending on the time of the day) and then go for a walk on the huge (and I mean huge) beach.

3) Horn Head cliffs: located just outside Dunfanaghy, this place is not mentioned in the video, as we will talk about it in a separate post, but OMG! it is impressive. We were not expecting such spectacular views and striking height (approx 180m) in a place that is not popular at all.... only a couple of cars passed by when we were there and barely stopped. 

Definitely the hidden gem of our route and one of the best kept secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way (there are a few!)

4) Ards Forest Park: next time we visit this part of Donegal, we will no doubt spend at least one whole day here, if not two or three - what a pleasure! So many different landscapes, endless beaches, trees of all kinds...

We were told that in Ards Forest Park you can still find Irish Native Woodland (rowan trees, yews, birches, ashes, elms...). After we came back home we started digging a little bit more and found out about Brehon Laws and how these trees were highly protected back in Medieval Ireland - so interesting, really!

5) Glenveagh National Park: what can I say that hasn't already been said about Glenveagh? One of the most beautiful National Parks in Ireland. So well maintained, with such a fascinating history (the castle and gardens were built in 1867 and since then have had different owners until 1975 when it was sold to the Office of Public Works). It has it all...

We arrived late in the evening and walked along the lake for a while - such a pleasure! An easy walk, we ran into a deer who was having his dinner and didn't even bother to look at us. Crossed paths with a few dog walkers, some tourists and a couple of "more professional" hikers -you can see this is a place that suits all tastes. The playground was full of kids so even the younger ones enjoy their time here.

6) Dunlewey: Mid way between Glenveagh National Park and the coast, on the R251 we stopped at Dunlewey to admire the Poison Glen. There is a viewpoint that I would recommend 100%. 

To one side there is Mount Errigal (those 751m seem much more than that, I can assure you).

To the other side, the Derryveagh Mountains (Errigal is the tallest of them all) or the Seven Sisters, as they are called, guarding Lough Dunlewy and Lough Nacung. Probably they are also guarding the Green Lady, the resident ghost, and all the fairies that have been sighted in the Poison Glen over the years.... is it a legend? is it true?

7) Bunbeg: such a quiet village with such a lovely beach.... visited in the morning and had a very nice coffee in a lovely shop/café: Harbour Road - made our day.

Then, we visited the harbour (looked perfect under the sun!), which happens to be the smallest active harbour in Europe. It is small, I can confirm.

Then a nice walk on the beach. Super plan!

We visited more places outside of this route and I will show you soon. For the moment hope you liked our story, and I also hope you visit Donegal soon ;-)

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