ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SIZEBack in Ireland once again at the kind invitation of Graeme who likes a full carload sometimes to share the cost of car hire for travelling around Donegal and his collection of friends are always happy to oblige, the passengers this time being myself, another Bob, and Sandra. Flight out from Prestwick to Derry- Londonderry then car to Donegal where Graeme has a house. Flights worked out at under £50 return- under £10 train fares from Glasgow and £25 in Sainsbury's for a weekends food and drink. Car hire each under £20. Total cost around £100 pounds for everything. Pretty good for four days exploring Ireland. This is The Blue Stack Mountains under snow seen from Murvagh Beach. As usual only one small day sack on plane via Ryanair without crampons or ice axes.( costs extra to carry them in cargo hold of plane)
Handy zoom in map here of the area. St John's Point is the long thin peninsula just to the east of Killybegs where it says North Atlantic on the zoom in. The best headland cliffs and walk are near the Lighthouse at the tip which is almost an island in itself. Murvagh Beach is east of this, a curving arm of land which encloses the islands in Donegal Bay near Donegal town itself.
Murvagh beach had a few Ringed Plovers hunkered down in the sands. Just shows you how tough these little birds and others have to be as the sands were like a sandpaper storm near the ground and the wind-chill here was below freezing.
After our brief visit here Marion and Graeme suggested going out to St John's Point, a seven mile long peninsula that sticks out into Donegal Bay on its Northern coastline near Killybegs, which is the largest deep water fishing port, not only in Donegal but in Ireland.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killybegs Killybegs is also famous for its tapestries and carpets.
St John's Point was a good choice as the weather had been a mixed bag so far of strong winds, sunny intervals, hailstone and sleet showers. Most of the peninsula cliffs around the headland are composed of Karst limestone beds lying at various tilted angles and exposed to the full force of the wild Atlantic Ocean as the nearest land mass out to sea is either South Greenland or Newfoundland and the North East coast of Canada. The waves here have a long way to travel across the ocean and they build up a decent swell. The last time I observed an ocean swell and waves this impressive was in South Australia off Cape Catastrophe visiting my sister. Luckily the weather did us proud and the sun came out for a couple of hours allowing us to do this excellent coastal walk around the headland in fine conditions.
A good omen was spotting this small flock of Brent Geese. I had to look these up as I cant remember seeing them before. They breed in the high arctic, Greenland and Siberia but winter here in estuaries and coastal margins. A hardy bird of the real tundra. This was taken at Coral Beach which was a lovely spot and very popular with sub aqua divers as St Johns point has some of the clearest coastal waters anywhere in Europe.
Not being familiar with the area I didn't have a clue what I was looking at here through the zoom but I thought I recognised Benbulben in the distance which we climbed on a previous trip during a visit to County Sligo. (February 2013 on this blog). The light was pretty hazy but Graeme thought he could pick out Mountbatten's castle on its promontory which came as a surprise to me. I knew of course he died in Ireland as it was in all the papers but I couldn't have told you the location or the County after this length of time. I didn't even know it was in this part of Ireland it happened. Everywhere you travel here however the past is not far away. I found this interesting article link which gives you a local point of view on an event which made headlines around the world.
The tip of the headland facing the Atlantic. Only a few hours walk but an absolute cracker on easy grass cliff tops with stunning scenery, especially if its a bit wild. On the last stage back it was a bit too wild however as we got caught at the end in a savage hailstone deluge that swept towards us with real ferocity and we were very grateful when Marion and Sandra appeared in the car to rescue us from further onslaught by the elements.
A distant view of Killybegs.
The limestone bedding plane tilted at an angle into the sea.
On the way back we visited Donegal Town which is worth a visit if you are in the area. Donegal Castle is very impressive as it sits above the river in the middle of the town.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_Donegal History and good photos here.
A view looking upriver at Donegal town itself.
Old Castle Bar on the main street beside the castle.
And a sunset to end the day. What more could you ask for.
Another video from Australian brother- sister duo Angus and Julia Stone. This is almost jazzy folk with a experimental scat feel to it and the one handed trumpet solo halfway in is extraordinary. Fantastic musicianship from all concerned and so different from the usual predictable fodder that passes for music in the current charts. This song grows on you as well after a couple of plays.