Monday, 12 August 2013

Ireland Trip. Day One. A country walk in Donegal.

A trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland is always welcome. The main problem at this time of year is the dodgy weather in July and August. Sunshine one minute-thunderstorms and heavy rain the next.
It was a mixed forecast but we went anyway.
Graeme had invited myself and his friend Sandra over for a few days. He was already there so this is the fine view leaving Glasgow Central Station by train passing  the Tradeston/Kinning Park area. I lived in a mouldy cardboard box in this district for the first nine months of my life before flitting to leafy Pollok. Onwards and upwards.

I met up with Sandra at Prestwick Airport then we caught the Ryanair flight to Londonderry. They don't have knighthoods in Ireland so Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary hasn't got one but he must be doing wonders for the Irish economy. This is taken near the big retail park in Strabane where we usually go for supplies and messages as it's handy. Very interesting sculpture of giant musicians here. Much better than the pointless wooden structure on the Loch Lomond road at Balloch roundabout.( I've a safe idea that will turn that monstrosity into a winner for very little outlay if the National Park are interested by the way.)
As you cant take anything on the plane apart from a day rucksack under 10 k as hand luggage you have to buy most of your food and drink once you arrive in Ireland. As we intended camping in the Mountains of Mourne this meant any gas stoves, tents, sleeping bags, etc. had to be left behind in Scotland. It's £60 pounds for a second rucksack on the plane so it worked out cheaper to buy an Ozark tent; a 3 season sleeping bag and a carry mat in the big Asda at Strabane. It's also a good place for cheap sit in meals as it has a self service restaurant.
Graeme had already picked me up these items earlier for under £50 quid and they could then be stored at his house for any future trips. It made more sense than paying £60 pounds each time anyone wanted to go camping.

On the way from Derry airport we visited this structure. Grianan Ailligh or Grianan of Aileach, a royal fort first constructed on this low mountain top around the time Jesus walked under sunny skies preaching his influential doctrine.
Tells you all about it in this link. It has commanding views over a large area and looks down on Lough Foyle And Lough Swilly. One of the fertile islands in the near distance is reached by two long causeways.

This is one of them. Beautiful spot.

A photograph taken from the well.
Whenever I'm over in Ireland I like to be doing things as each day is precious here. It was too late to go up a hill and the weather was mixed with heavy rain on and off so Graeme suggested a low level walk in Central Donegal instead between the showers. This is an area of low rolling hills and quiet country lanes. Pretty rather than spectacular but it was perfect for the conditions as rainstorms swept the surrounding heights above a thousand feet while we stayed in the sunshine.
Rain over the Mountains. Sunny at lower levels.
Peaceful lanes and great views of farmlands. Very easy to get slightly lost here though as few of these numerous minor roads are signed to anywhere and we didn't have a map.
Dark thunderheads building quickly told us when it was time to seek shelter again and there were some amazing cloudscapes throughout this trip with fluffy white teddy bear cotton wool types mixed in with jet black storm types. Fun to watch if you made it safe under cover before the next deluge. Very humid as well though highly atmospheric.
A good first day in the Emerald Isle.


Carol said...

By 'eck Bob, you go to Northern Ireland a lot! You must really like it. I'll get round to it one day I'm sure but not sure when. There's a lot of catching up with other islands I want to do when I finally compleat...

blueskyscotland said...

Yeah. I like the country, the mountains and the people are usually very friendly. The fact that there are so many new areas to explore in Northern Ireland and the Republic that I haven't been to yet is a bonus.

The Glebe Blog said...

In my 40 + years visiting Ireland, I've still to visit Newtonstewart near Strabane Bob.
Donegal has so much to offer especially it's coastline.
I visited the Glenveagh National Park on a few occasions, but can't pick out where you are on your pictures, north west of Balleybofey maybe ?

Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

blueskyscotland said...

Well spotted Jim,
It's the rolling drumlin hill country between Ballybofey and Castlederg which is great for cycling and walking. Looks like Renfrewshire and parts of Ayrshire. Same geology. The nearby Blue Stack Mountains were buried in rainclouds all day so this lower area in bright sunshine looked the best alternative. Great walking along a maze of beautiful, traffic free lanes for a few hours until it hammered down with rain. Next post will be a ten hour epic in the mighty Mountains of Mourne which you already know well. A few surprises maybe If I'm lucky:)