Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ireland. Donegal. Last Day. Malin Head. Wild Atlantic Way.

On the way to Prestwick Airport via Glasgow Central Station I popped into the Goma to see what was on and was pleased to see the statue outside now had two traffic cone hats. A smaller summer themed one for the horse and the usual model for "The Dook". The generosity of Glasgow folk knows no bounds.
If you think this is no way to treat The Duke of Wellington and his faithful galloper the other statues in nearby George Square may disagree.

"Damn! Here's that dirty one legged shitehawk back again. Wish I was Wellington!"
Over in Donegal the murals are somewhat different from Glasgow. Bobby Sands and Che Guevara. I've seen the film "The Motorcycle Diaries" which was very interesting, scenery and culture wise , all about Che Guevara's early life. (He came from a politically minded family of Basque and Irish descent)
As those who read this blog will realise I'm not politically minded myself and with only one day to go to the big Scottish decision I have carefully weighted up all the evidence presented and decided I'm back to being undecided again. I prefer the feeling of being undecided instead of knowing who to vote for as people that come to the door ask you more questions if you sit on the fence. Between the strident shouty Yes's and the doom and gloom negative No's the quiet dignity of the undecided campaign shines out like a beacon of light yet their numbers are shrinking every day so I thought I would give them my full support. I don't get out much midweek and people are not usually this concerned, coming to the door asking for my views and opinions. In fact I've often been told in the past to keep my views and opinions to myself so its refreshing to give them an airing to passing strangers. I even had a guy from southern England, judging by the accent, canvasing round our scheme for some reason. He looked a bit jumpy when his mates left him to go indoors across the street into a block of flats but I soon had him occupied showing him my serial killer photo album and WWII commando dagger collection.
It pays to be polite and it was the same tactic I used to use when the Mormons  came around years ago to save my soul for Jesus. I'd usually tell them I felt compelled to embrace the dark side instead and was drawn to the plight of the fallen angels in the bible as everyone likes to root for an underdog.
" I already like spending time with fallen women a lot so I'll probably like fallen angels as well."
It was an honest, considered opinion but sadly, they didn't see the world through my eyes.
Anyway, Malin Head is on the shipping forecast and is the most northerly point on the Irish Mainland at the tip of Donegal. It was Graeme's idea to go here which worked in well for the forecast as it was still unsettled and murky over the mountains though the wind had dropped. Malin Head, being out on a low peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the sunniest places in Ireland.
Some of the beaches facing west around here are unusual in that they are not made of sand but uniform fist sized pebbles, and semi precious stones like Jasper, quartz and agate can occasionally be found among them. This serrated peninsula also boasts some of Europe's largest sand dunes although we didn't explore them on this trip.
A large tower sits on the headland, built during the Napoleonic war to defend the coastline from invasion. Beside this the main car park is found up a narrow winding road to the tower. A coffee and soft drinks van and a tourist souvenir stall complete the picture. Views from here are panoramic but once again most folk did not stray far from their vehicles. After a long drive to get here a half hour stop was enough for most then it was back in the car for the long drive back again.
Despite an obvious well made easy trail and a glimpse of rugged coastline from the car park most folk spent an average of 20 minutes here and stayed near the tower as if trapped by magnets.
If they had children an obvious draw was to write your name on the grass in pebbles before you left. An earlier non internet version of a selfie.
It was a lovely day, warm and sunny but only around 5% per cent of visitors could be bothered doing the half hour easy walk to the real Malin Head. The same thing happens in most countries worldwide yet the same folk probably spend money on exercise equipment or Gym membership to get fit then lapse after a few weeks because it's boring. Maybe nature is boring to them also? It's certainly a mystery to me why so many never explore further.
Anyway, here's what 95% of visitors to Malin Head miss out on. Maybe if they know it's out there they might be tempted to walk that extra half hour. Marion, Graeme's girlfriend, was with us today on her day off and she was right up for exploring around here, forging into the lead along the path.
Cattle on a hilltop near the sea cliffs.
Graeme and amazing cliff scenery ten minutes walk from the car along the white path.
A large sheltered cove.
The real Malin Head. The furthest point north in mainland Ireland. Marion and Nathan admire the view.
The Great Stack at Malin Head. An amazing sight. Probably the most impressive sea stacks of the trip. Spotted a few gannets flying around this area so maybe it has gannets nesting nearby in spring.
Easy walking across short grass to get here. 30 minutes from car park.
On the plus side we had it all to ourselves apart from a few other folk. So much of life these days is merely following the herd, even walking seems to be about fashion and how "in" it is perceived. Music has been largely tamed and wrapped into neat packages with little of the bold experimental approach of the 1960s - 1990s. artists. The Scottish Munros are packed out in good weather with rapidly eroding paths yet you hardly see a soul or any evidence of footprints just one hill away on a Corbett or Graham. Still the preserve of bearded weirdo loners and donkey molesters. Selfies, ice bath challenges and other daft crazes come and go while some of us just groan and scratch our heads in bewilderment. If I even get a whiff of a craze starting my natural instinct is to move up the grass in the opposite direction. This little black sheep has always avoided what the main flock are up to at any given moment.
A scramble over the limestone knife edged extremity got us within touching distance of the true limit of Malin Head.
The jaggy end of the mainland.
or is it?  Always a little further.
Limestone erodes into shark fin splendour here.
A great place.

Malin Head is also the start point (or end if travelling south to north) of the Wild Atlantic Way. A 2,500km (1,500 mile) drive along Ireland's wildly indented west coast from Donegal to Kinsale, County Cork. The longest defined ocean coastal drive in the world , the newly erected road signs of which (WW) had puzzled us last year when they suddenly popped up around Donegal.
This video is a bit Tourist Board orientated  but still spectacular and really highlights the full power of the North Atlantic Ocean rollers crashing against Ireland in the winter months. As it's brand new few folk are bagging it yet. Just the way I like it :o)


The Glebe Blog said...

Again some top notch pictures Bob. Malin Head's another part of Ireland I've never got to.

Having done my fair share of driving on the west coast, I can understand why the tourist board are promoting 'The Wild Atlantic Way' drive. It's spectacular.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
Yes, The Irish west coast has some amazing scenery. The sand dunes looked interesting too.
I'm glad the referendum is over because, even before the minor trouble in George Square parts of Glasgow were starting to bear a resemblance to the divided communities of Northern Ireland I've just returned from with opposing flags and banners on both sides of some streets. Thankfully, we have avoided that scenario here and mostly live without any divisions but it doesn't take much to bring it to the surface in Glasgow with a similar population heritage.

The Glebe Blog said...

You're right Bob, It's a sad affair when people of different persuasions can't live together.
I doubt if I'll live to see the lyrics of Blue Mink's Melting Pot come true.

Carol said...

I'm a bit like you there too Bob - if a craze starts, or something becomes popular, I'm always straight off in the other direction. Makes life interesting anyway ;-)

Great photos - looks a great place - isn't that one of the Shipping Forecast points?

The Gaza poster gets my goat though - I do wish we'd keep our noses out of things we know nothing about and which aren't our concerns.

Love the following quote:
"I already like spending time with fallen women a lot so I'll probably like fallen angels as well."
Brilliant! :-)

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Carol,
Yes, Malin Head Force Five usually.
The quote is all my own work. I've always shown an interest in fallen woman and angels as one can easily turn into the other given a decent chance :o)