On the road again to explore a little bit more of the amazing Wild Atlantic Way. We left Friday after work for a remarkable weekend that included an outstanding scenery, secluded beaches, very interesting cultural and historic facts, delicious food, truly remarkable hospitality, genuine people and much more in the best company.
If you like to travel at your own pace and discover amazing places without crowds join me and come explore this unspoiled and outstanding part of Ireland.
Following a suggestion of one of my followers we decided to go and explore Fanad Head. This was also the first time we stayed at an Airbnb and I can tell you it was an excellent choice that surpassed my expectations. We headed to Fanad Head and we stayed at a bungalow in a farm house. The place was less than 5km from the lighthouse, located in a beautiful area. We didn’t have the chance to meet our hosts, but they took really nice care of us by making us feel very welcome and at home. A picturesque place surrounded by nature where our neighbors were cows and chickens. By the time we arrived there, the day was gorgeous I couldn’t wait to go and see the beautiful lighthouse, so we went. I’m fascinated by lighthouses, and you, do you share the same passion? This beautiful boats’ guardian is located between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay. This lovely small lighthouse stands at the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean surrounded by an outstanding scenery and of course I couldn’t resist to take my camera out and start taking some pictures that I now share with you.
Everyone knows that Ireland is known by its pub culture and even in the most remote places you will be able to find one. It’s really interesting how important relationships are for Irish people, particularly if they live in places away from big cities. Everything is an excuse to start a conversation and at the same time find out all about where you are from and where you are staying, it’s like the secret services, I’m just kidding, I truly appreciate the authenticity of Irish people.
The next morning, we had an excellent breakfast which consisted of eggs from chickens’ farm and then we went to visit the lighthouse that was first lit in 1817 after a British navy ship carrying more than 3000 golden bars (22 are still missing) sank and everyone died. The lighthouse was converted to electric in 1975 and since 1983 is automatic.
At the entrance we met our guide, Caite. I have to say this was one of the best guided tours I ever went on, not only because of the things I learnt but especially because Caite was such a warm and genuine person who shared with us amazing stories and made us feel so welcomed.
She provided a lot of explanation about the way a lighthouse works and how things evolved through times from the original lamps to the bulbs now used, how the light is projected 24km away through the lenses to aid boats and vessels to navigate, how the light is kept always lit…to fantastic stories about Tory Island’s king (the king died last year and people of the island is going to elect a new king, so it might be your chance to be a king ), the chance to go diving and try to find some of the missing gold, but be aware you will only have oxygen for 10 minutes. Caite also provided a guided tour through the magnificent lighthouse’s accommodations. This is one of the things I truly like when travelling, not only discover beautiful places but also meet incredible people with amazing stories and so many things to share with you that gives your journey that special touch making you want to return. So, thank you very much Caite for being such a lovely person (Go raibh maith agat).
By Caite’s suggestion we headed to Rathmullan to catch Lough Swilly’s Ferry and cross to Buncrana. The ferry connects Fanad and Inishowen peninsulas and saved us some time. We had lunch at The Drift Inn at Buncrana. This quirky restaurant and bar used to be a railway station until 1956. The food is very good.
After lunch we went to visit Fort Dunree, now a military museum, located at Inishowen Peninsula at the top of a Fjord overlooking Lough Swilly. It’s another mandatory stop not only for its astonishing location but also because of all the history connected with this place, particularly during its strategic location and role during WW1. There are also walk paths to explore, bird watching and a nice coffee shop. It’s indeed a place worthy of visiting with plenty of things to do.
From here we headed to our second place where we decided to spend our night. Again, we chose an Airbnb at Malin. The reception we had surpassed all our expectations. Our host, Jo and her husband Louis are exceptional hosts. Jo was waiting for us on our arrival and she spoilt us with a lovely food treat upon our arrival. We felt like someone from her family. The place was immaculately clean. Jo is a very warm person that thinks about every detail and truly wants to make their guests feel at home. I can assure you that you will not find such a personalized service in a 5-star hotel. If you happen to go in that direction I recommend you stay at Jo’s and discover the meaning of being pampered. A beautiful modern, house located in the small village of Malin very close to the main attractions we intended to visit.
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We visited Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland located in Inishowen Peninsula. If you are a fan of Star Wars, know that it was here that the part of the Last Jedi was filmed.
But the importance of Malin Head is related to the vital role it has in shipping forecast’s communications, this goes back at the time of the French Invasions and during World War 2. This is also an area of major importance for marine and bird life.
Five Finger Strand Beach, a beautiful beach surrounded by dunes considered one of the tallest dunes in Europe, some of them reach 30 metres. Like so many other beaches in Ireland you will find very few people around, which makes it even more enjoyable. An excellent place to stroll around and enjoy the sound of the waves, though not suitable for swimming due to strong currents.
Doagh Famine Village was another highlight in our trip. Our tour guide was Pat who lived here until 1984. The tour starts at his family house where he lived with 6 people. Until then the houses in Malin were all thatched apart from 3 houses. Times were extremely difficult. Things changed when Ireland entered the European Union. I truly recommend you visit this place and learn more about the famine times that hit Ireland in 1840 and decimated 1/3 of the population and how things changed until our days. Learn about how this community who rely on land and the sea survived. You will listen to stories about superstitions, poaching, landlords and tenants, wars and politics, a lively history lesson.
If you want to taste a wonderful chowder you must go to Nancy’s Barn. A true masterpiece. This quirky restaurant serves a world-class, award-winning seafood chowder.
We finished this fantastic weekend taking the ferry back at home from Greencastle to Magilligan that connects the Wild Atlantic Way to the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland in a journey that takes roughly 15 minutes through Lough Foyle.
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2 thoughts on “Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way – County Donegal (Part 2)”
Thank you so much for that fantastic report, both written and the fantastic photographs. Sounds and looks like you had a a great time.
The pleasure was all mine. Ireland is a beautiful country that offers you the chance to explore fantastic places with outstanding scenary and the good thing is that you can truly enjoy it because you don’t have a lot of tourists. People are also really nice and most of the time I have the pleasure to meet exceptional people with incredible stories. Thank you very much for your feedback.