Friday, 21 November 2014

Ireland 2014: Slieve League and Southern Co. Donegal

During my visit in 2011, our plans to visit Slieve League were rained out. It was my goal to get there this time. We went with Andy of Donegal Coastal Tours (not Andy, Linda's husband from the last post.) I would, without a doubt, recommend him. He's the guide that the Tourist Office and the hostel both recommended and there is definitely a reason. I would gladly have paid twice what we were charged.

We met at the tourist office at 11am. In the end, there were five of us on the tour and we all got along well, which is pretty important when you're spending the day in a minivan. Our first stop of the tour was Killybegs, a small fishing village just down the road from Donegal Town.

Shortly down the road from Killybegs, we stopped for a picture opportunity. Andy did not disappoint with his choice of locales.

Those mountains in the far distance are Co. Sligo and Co. Mayo (left to right)

We continued on down the road with Andy chatting away and telling stories about the places we passed. The nice thing about this sort of tour is that any time we wanted to stop, we just told Andy and he'd pull over. No schedule, no set itinerary, just a guy driving people around for the day.

And just to prove we really were on the tour:

The day was one of those windy, rainy, sunny days where you take three pictures of the same thing within a minute and each picture looks like a different season. Our next stop after this photo was Slieve League, the whole reason why I insisted we took this tour in the first place and it was heavily misting as we drove into the parking lot. I was a little worried that I was going to be 0/2 on seeing the cliffs.

But then we came around the bend in the walkway and I kind of stopped caring whether I actually saw the cliffs or not.


As I keep telling people, Katie and I were literally over the rainbow at seeing Slieve League.

Oh, and we did see the cliffs.

And more rainbow!

It was also just a tad bit windy. Just a little.

There's a narrow pathway that runs along the top of the cliffs but it takes roughly 5 hours to hike the whole thing one way and we didn't have that sort of time, so we set off to reach an outcropping we could see from the first lookout point. Thomas beat us up there.

We had to be careful walking up there because there were balls of sheep poop everywhere. Katie took to calling them shitbombs and I really can't think of a more apt description of them. Unlike Katie, I did not take a picture of them because I don't need a visual reminder of sheep crap, thank you very much.

This was where we stepped of the path to being our scramble up the rocks.

From the top of the outcrop. Not too shabby a view!

Looking back the way we came.
You can just make out our van in the parking lot.

Thomas getting all philosophical about life.

We returned to Andy's van and continued along the coast to Silver Strand, near the town of Glencolmcille. In case you didn't know, strand is another word for beach. Also, Silver Strand is a very common beach name in Ireland. It seems like every county on the sea has at least one Silver Strand.

In the summer this place would be packed with people, but on a random wet day in May we pretty much had it to ourselves.

In case you're wondering, there are 129 steps to the beach.

Thanks to the time delay on Katie's camera, we attempted this photo 5 times
and this is the closest we go to me actually in the air for my jump.

As we left Silver Strand for Glencolmcille, two things happened: 1) the rain set in for good and 2) one of the other tour members mentioned that she had to be back in Donegal Town to catch a bus at 17:15. Due to both of these items we hurried through the rest of the afternoon, only stopping at Glengesh Pass for a quick picture. I'm sure it's really beautiful when it's not pissing with rain.

I could have kicked the girl from not mentioning this at the start of the tour when we could have been more conscious of our time at the various places. Glencolmcille was adorable, the drive through the peat fields to the pass was straight out of old Ireland with the peat all stacked for drying - of course, with the rain, none of the farmers were out harvesting it - and I really could have done with a hot drink of some sort by the time we got to Ardara.


Just another reason to go back!

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