Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Touring the Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland) Day 5 - 7

Touring the Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland) Day 5 - 7 

Sunday 21st May 2017 - Lots of rain but with some good sunny spells in the afternoon

Well, Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, so as the rain had pitter pattered on the roof for a good part of the night, and was continuing to do so in the morning, that's exactly what we did.  We spent the morning doing a bit of planning re our continued journey, and then I pottered about and made some Stilton and Broccoli soup for lunch, and by the time we'd finished that the sun was shining!  Therefore, we decided to don our walking shoes and toddle off to visit the Glenevin Waterfall, which if we could have gone as the 🐦 flies would only have been about a mile away.  However, that would have required us to clamber over fences and to trespass in no man's land, so therefore we took the proper route which was 2.5 miles and which first took us in the little hamlet of Clonmany. And it did have many - Irish pubs - one of which we were forced to dash into for shelter from another downpour that sneaked up on us - but we weren't complaining because it provided an opportunity to sample our first pint of Guinness on Irish soil!

We sipped the delicious brew under the watchful eye of Laurel and Hardy and pondered if our drink had really been brewed in Ireland!  We later learnt that all the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed at the historic St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, and that it's history can be traced back to 1759 when Arthur Guinness, a 34 year old man with some brewing experience took over an abandoned brewery in Dublin - he signed a 9,000 year lease with an annual rent of £45 and began to brew - and as they say The rest is History πŸΊπŸ»πŸΊ

Anyway, back to the story, the rain only lasted about five minuets, but our beer lasted slightly longer than that, but once it was supped we were soon back out on route for the waterfall.  Unfortunately, the first part of the way was a bit uninspiring, but eventually we found ourselves walking through a pretty wooded glen beside a babbling stream that led us gently uphill to the fall itself.  Then after we'd done admiring it we set off back and decided we'd walk the extra couple of miles to see Binnion Bay, or more specifically,  Tullagh Beach.  However, this turned out to be a bit of a mistake because to get there we'd had to more or less walk right past T4rdis2, and when we arrived the heavens opened again and we were soon soaked to the skin - and this time there was no pub to dash into!  Also, a very frustrating fact was that we could actually see T4rdis2 only about 200 yards from where we were but that was across a muddy swamp area that was fenced off.  So instead of being snug and warm within our ships confines we needed to trudge another couple of miles before we were home!  Oh well, yer can't win em all πŸ˜–

Monday 22nd May 2017 - Another wet start but the day got better as we went along!

Tourist Office Aire - We're a bit longer
than the Bay!
This morning we left the Binnion Bay camp site and headed a short distance further along the Wild Atlantic Way to the town of Buncrana where the Tourist Info Office very kindly offer a free Aire for Motorhome overnight parking.  Our info had informed us that  they could accommodate vans up to 10 metres, but when we got there this was incorrect, however we did just about manage to shoe horn our 7.5 metre length into a gap with a bit of a overhang - and the lady in the office was quite happy for us to stay.  So after an early lunch while we sheltered from yet another downpour we set off to explore the area that is described as Amazing Grace Country.

John Newton
We're parked right next to a park dedicated to the remarkable story of 'Amazing Grace' which was originally composed by a foul mouthed sailor - John Newton.  He was on board The Greyhound which was sailing from Africa to England when it was caught in a violent Atlantic storm on March 10th 1748.  The ship became very close to sinking, until at almost the last moment, they found a safe haven in the estuary Lough Swilly.  The sailors were rescued and this became a turning point in Newton's life and the start of his spiritual journey.  He became a clergy-man, a prolific hymn writer and played a vital role as mentor to William Wilberforce in his historic battle concerning the abolition of slavery which was finally abolished in 1807.  However, the hymn lives on, and it's one that most people know the words too - it's topped the charts several times since it was written 200 years ago and it holds the record for the most recorded song!

Lough Swilly

Our stroll took us away from T4rdis2 and onto the 3km path that runs north from Buncrana to Stragill Strand beach, and on the way we passed an old Napoleonic Battery and also Father Hegarty's Rock - a place where Friar Seamus Hegarty was beheaded in 1711 by English Redcoats for conducting secret Catholic Masses.

After about an hours walk we arrived at Stragill beach, and it made a lovely place to sit and take in the views across Lough Swilly while we sipped our hot choc.  Lough Swilly is a fjord type inlet that is 23 miles long and named after Suili - the pagan Celtic goddess of watery places who is said to be a multi-eyed mythical beast πŸ‘Ύ!  Happily, there was no sign of her as we retraced our steps part of the way back to visit Swan Park - which has absolutely nothing to do with swans - it was bequeathed to the town by one Harry Swan in 1965, hence it's name

To get to the park we walked beside the rushing torrents of The River Crana and through a wooded glade that was festooned with little fairy hides - they were very cute!  But by then the skies were darkening again so we decided to try and dash home via one or two shops for several little essentials - but we needn't have hurried cos almost without a drop of rain falling the evening finished with glorious sunshine.

Tuesday 23rd May 2017  - A dry but blustery day

This morning we left our free spot at Buncrana and set of to drive around the Fjord of Lough Swilly, first to the town of Letterkenny, and then up the other side through the hamlet of Rathmullan, and further on into the mountainous hills towards Fanad Head.  However, as we advanced along that side of the Fjord the narrower and steeper the roads became, and for much of the way we were on single track roads which required T4rdis2 to breath in every time we came to another πŸš—πŸšœπŸšŒπŸš›.  Having said that, both T4rdis2 and John managed with great aplomb  and I only very occasionally had white knucklesπŸ˜“, but nevertheless, when we finally came to a road with a white line down the middle John's face lit up as if he'd been given a great big fat 🍦and I breathed a big sigh of relief - and we never did get as far as the lighthouse at Fanad Head!

We did however manage to pass over the Knockalla Mountain, and as we traversed it's downward slope we pulled into a view point overlooking the beautiful Ballymastocker Beach, and as our spot was so stunning we decided to stop for lunch even though we were on quite a 'wonk'!  Therefore, my challenge was to cook fired eggs without them all settling in one side of the pan!

While we were there we also learnt about the HMS Saldanha - a Royal Navy Warship that was based in Lough Swilly and patrolled the seas against attack from Napoleon.  She was lost in 1811 after setting sail with HMS Talbot and running into a fierce storm that forced the ships to turn back.  Sadly the crew of HMS Talbot witnessed Saldanha's last moments as she hit the rocks and was  swallowed by the waves as her hull broke in two.   Many of those who escaped died in the freezing water and over 200 bodies were washed up on the shore thus this was declared one of the worst disasters in Irish Marine History.

When we left our lunch spot T4rdis2 still had a bit more mountain 🐐 impersonating to do, and then about an hour later we eventually arrived at our home for the next 4 nights - The Wild Atlantic Campsite - where with a bit of luck we may be giving our bikes some much needed exercise!

But that will a sequel to this πŸ˜™πŸ˜™

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