United Kingdom
Ballygomartin River

Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
Travelers at this place
    • Day 16


      May 13 in Northern Ireland ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

      “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
      Today we plan to drive around the Inishowen peninsular, the most northerly part of Ireland. The first adventure is topping up the petrol in the car. You have to pre-pay. “I don’t know how much I will need.” The attendant keeps Tony’s phone as security. Tony pays after filling the tank. Mutual trust.
      There is a seamless transfer into Ireland from Northern Ireland. Suddenly we are in Euro and Kilometre land. We drive the scenic route along the northern side of Lough Foyle and stop at Greencastle to admire the fishing fleet and scenery. Past Stroove on the corner there is a high lookout from where we can see the coast towards Portrush where we went a couple of days ago. The roads are quite small as we make our way to the very tip of Ireland, Malin Head. Spectacular cliff views and a clifftop walk. The guy running Caifé Banbha, ‘Ireland’s most northerly and extraordinary coffee shop’, suggested Farren’s Bar for lunch. The most northerly pub in Ireland. Good choice.
      Tony drew the after-lunch driving shift. We avoided Letterkenny (no, haven’t seen any of the TV series). Every town we went through had a sort of rush hour happening. Lots of stopping. Finally reached Donegal in the late afternoon. Ireland isn’t very big. Google Maps thinks the whole trip is about 110 miles (180km). Our resting place is the Gateway Lodge, just outside the main Donegal centre.
      In the evening we walked towards the town. The Forge looked very inviting for an evening drink. Very quiet when we got there. The lady who lived next door opened the pub door and ushered us in. The publican poured our drinks then a Guinness for himself. “Quality control.” We had a long chat until the next customers arrived. After walking right around town we settled on the Italian restaurant, La Bella Donna. Great choice. Hadn’t had Italian food for quite some time. Tony’s linguine pescatora was superb as was Ursula’s gamberone con bianco e aglio. The young waiter was very friendly and helpful.
      Next day, Sat 11 May: “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”– Lao Tzu
      Had no idea how to spend our only full day in Donegal, so we reverted to what our chatty publican said last night. “Slieve League are the highest cliffs in Europe”. “Surely not”, Tony thought. Looked up the highest cliffs in Ireland. Cliffs of Moher in Kerry. 300m. Somebody isn’t right. Ursula found a 2 hour boat trip which she booked before breakfast. 12 noon so plenty of time. We enjoyed the pleasant walk into town down the hill and across the river to a forgettable breakfast at Old Stone café.
      Sunny drive past Killybegs (big Norwegian cruise ship in harbour) to the parking spot for the Slieve League viewing platform. The walk there is too long for the time we have so we braved the hordes from the cruise ship and had a relaxed coffee at the modern café. The boat trip leaves from Teelin Bay.
      Our skipper, Brian-the-boatman, gives us the obligatory safety briefing, where he demonstrates putting on the lifejacket. “Don’t know why I’m telling you this. There’s only 1 lifejacket. Mine.” Only 10 passengers on this small motorboat, but there are 3 boats in a convoy. Fortunately the cruise ship hordes don’t come here. It was a lovely cruise in the slightly choppy water and blazing sunshine. Some people on the other boat went swimming. “Water is about 10 degrees.” There are sheep grazing on the very steep grass patches between the rocks and scree. Brian: “The grass gets saltier as they get closer to the sea. They love the salt so keep trying to go down. Sometimes they get stuck. I used to be a farmer. We’d have to collect the stuck sheep by boat. They can live down there for as long as 6 weeks, licking the dew off the grass for water”. The cliffs are, of course, spectacular. 600 metres high. Twice the Eiffel Tower. Brian likes to have a chat with each guest. “I spent 14 months working in Melbourne and Tasmania. Also worked in Darwin. So hot we never had hangovers; used to sweat it out.”
      After the cruise we found The Rusty Herring nearby (a pub – surprise) for a late lunch. The waif-like waitress said can’t take your order at the moment, there was a big booking coming in. Ursula: “We’ll be very quick to order”. So she found us a nice table right in the bar. We shared chowder and cod goujons. Delicious. Had a slow and scenic drive home via Malin Beg which we had seen from the boat, then some very thin roads between small villages.
      In Donegal there’s another pub (the Reel Inn) immediately across the bridge with a small courtyard with 2 tables right above the river. We joined an English couple at one of the tables. “Weren’t you on today’s boat cruise?” Yes. They live not far from Tony’s cousin Jonny in country Somerset. They have relatives in Australia and have visited countless times. They had such a good meal at Quay West last night that they have booked there again tonight. Boring. On the other hand we had such a good meal at La Bella Donna that we went there again tonight. The senior waitress found us a table upstairs at the back near the river. Different food this time but just as good.
      This is our last night in Donegal. Belfast tomorrow where we get rid of the car.
      Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Ballygomartin River

    Join us:

    FindPenguins for iOSFindPenguins for Android