9 girls and 4 guys partook in our group's week in Donegal on the north-west coast of Ireland. Our accommodation again proved excellent, a high up, 5 bedroom cottage with a conservatory giving views over Teelin and Tawny Bays and the highest sea cliffs in Europe. The weather was fantastic, t-shirts and shorts weather everyday, temperatures in the low twenties with sun and blue skies.
Our early depart from Luton airport on Saturday meant we arrived at Knock airport before lunch, and our destination, Kilcar, by mid-afternoon. We spent the evening in a restaurant and a few bars in the village. I struggled to find veggie food in any of the local shops: no quorn, tofu, falafel etc. Not even some unhealthy, fat-loaded, veggie food. Even the cows were eating grass. Details of our main outdoor activities follow, other activities included trips to Muckros Head, Saint John's Point, Aran Island, Donegal (town) and Lidl (supermarket).
Sunday involved exploring the surrounding area and finding some OS maps. Martin S and I walked from our cottage west to the next village (Carrick) down to the coast and pier, and back (about 10 miles). In the evening Kathy C and Martin S arranged their lives to ensure they could see Coronation Street. Unfortunately their viewing was interrupted by a power cut (3 times - what bad luck) and a mop, waving at them through the living room window from outside. When Mike went in to check on them (first for the power cut, they blamed him, it was me; and then for the mop, correct, Mike had crawled down to wave it at them), he found Kathy C and Martin S holding up the curtains. They had tried to close them once the mop appeared - and ended up pulling them down. An unexpected bonus.
With OS maps in our possession, 6 of us (Kathy C, Jackie, Martin S, Martin J, Mike, me) tackled Slieve League on Monday which at 595 metres is the highest sea cliff in Europe. We were dropped off at Glencolumbkille and then walked 4 miles along path, track and road before reaching the beach at Malin Beg. We then climbed each and every one of the 595 metres, reaching the summit of Slieve League just after 3pm. No path; the terrain was wild and boggy; and no view; the summit was misty. We headed down inland (north) taking in views of a number of lochs before following a river that took us to Carrick and 2 miles from home. Total distance around 18 miles including the climb.
The main walk on Tuesday involved Jenny, Audrey, Sundip, Theresa, Caroline, Kathy T and me walking a circular, anti-clockwise, 15 mile route, from the cottage through Kilcar, Meenanary and Carrick. Lunch was at our highest point (around 230 metres) overlooking a loch.
Wednesday morning was the only time it rained, so we headed north to the county town, Letterkenny, taking in lunch, the 19th century cathedral, the museum and the shops. A good decision, as the weather was sunny in Letterkenny, and Kilcar and surrounding areas had obviously experienced more rain during the day. The irony was the Water Board had turned off the water to all houses in our area on Tuesday evening. We had noticed, and introduced a 'yellow mellow' rule with numbers twos only permitted in the spare cottage up the hill (which the Landlord had given us the keys to). On arrival home in the evening a bucket with water and 4 humungous plastic bottles of water were waiting for us outside the cottage. The water mains returned over night.
4 of us (Jackie, Martin J, Mike S and me) tackled the biggest peaks in south Donegal, the Blue Stack mountain range, on Thursday. We started walking about 11:45am following a path from the car park in Edergole, just north of Lough Eske. Our climb started in the valley where we crossed the Corabber River before taking in a number of peaks (of note, 495m, 641m, 642m and 626m) heading anti-clockwise around Lough Belshade. We finally reached the highest mountain (Blue Stack, 674 metres) at 5:40pm before heading down over boggy terrain - all our feet, boots and ankles went below the water line at some stage (great fun) - and back to our car at 7:50pm. Total horizontal distance about 12 miles, but adding in the numerous climbs made it our toughest day.
Our last day, Friday, involved a circular, clockwise, 18 mile route, from the cottage taking in Carrick, Glencolumbkille and Meenanary. In the evening Jenny and Audrey made a communal meal from our remaining food (thanks). And then we partied with an array of the dodgiest music available. No, not gr-eighties music; initially, dour stuff from the days when TV was black and white, before some classic 70s disco music. Michelle danced like Kate Bush on speed, Mike was 'shaking-his-spear', Audrey was playing 'rugger' and some of it was videoed - Cathy T got her 'camera on' Kathy C. And if you think my attempts at puns are bad then you should have heard the corn Mike was generating all week long.
Our early start (we aimed for 6:30am depart) on Saturday proved wise. Good risk management. Just in case one of our 3 cars was delayed. Maybe going to the wrong airport: Sligo, not Knock? Despite all the corny 'Knock Knock' jokes exchanged on arrival; you don't need to be an idiot to make that kind of mistake do you. Another source of confusion is that both words have 5 letters. Ultimately we all met at the correct airport in good time to return our 3 cars and board the plane home. Our week in Donegal cost us around £133 each for flights, accommodation, cars and communal food - less than £20 pppn. Thanks all for coming.
Report by Steve
Saturday night enjoying a meal in Kilcar - Photo by Jackie
Breakfast in the cottage with stunning views from the conservatory - Photo by Jackie
Steve, Kathy C, Martin J, Jackie & Mike S at top of misty Slieve League cliffs - Photo by Jackie
Steve and Mike take a dip with the sheep - Photo by Jackie
Jackie, Steve, Martin set off on the Blue Stack mountains trek - Photo by Jackie
Jackie reaching the first peak! 3 more to go! - Photo by Jackie
Martin, Jackie, Steve reaching the second peak, wow look at the views! - Photo by Jackie
Made it to the top of the fourth peak! 5.50pm - Photo by Jackie
6 us set off on the Slieve League cliffs climb - Photo by Jackie
A refreshing beach stop on the journey to Slieve League cliff tops - Photo by Kathy C
Jackie and Mike wait to board the ferry to Aranmore Island - Photo by Kathy C
Jackie and Kathy C on Aranmore Island - Photo by Kathy C
Stop to have a look at Teelin beach - Photo by Jackie
Relaxing at Joe Johns Pub after a full day's walking, Jackie, Mike, Cathy T, Kathy C and Caroline - Photo by Kathy C
A great band performing at Joe Johns Pub - Photo by Kathy C