A walk starting and finishing in the amazing place that is Port. In the far western reaches of Donegal, reached along miles of narrow road and leaving most of civilisation behind......... except for that found at port-donegal.com. A cottage in the wilds with limited electric from solar power and running water from a stream coming down the hillside. This was a tough place in the near freezing bite of the easterly winds at the end of March 2013 but it was an epic week for so many reasons, including the walking on the doorstep.
The little storm beach of white pebbles and slipway for the single boat plying for fare around this wild coast are left below as climb Port Hill. The sheep mown hillside ends abruptly as cliffs grow ever larger, with sea stacks, shattered stone and rough storm beaches below.
Views reach back south past an endless vista of ocean to the cliffs rising from the Atlantic swell and reaching up to Sturrall and Beefan and Garveross mountain and the imposing signal tower.
Of more immediate attention is that which is underfoot, walking on well worn ground next to the cliff edge among heather as height is gained. Passing Toralaydan Island (an impressive sea stack just separated from land) and being elevated to 600 + feet from the water below. Fences now appear to protect livestock (I assume that it is livestock and not walkers?) and maintaining a safe distance from the stunning coastal scape.
The heights of Slievetooey were always visible to the north and they had remanants of snow, the ground was still frozen here along the cliff side. The jaw dropping sight of Glenlough Bay soon diverts the eyes though - to the sweeping line of steep slopes above the most impressive storm beach i have ever seen with sea stacks thrown in too! It is guarded by Tormore Island, at well over 400 feet I think the tallest stack in Ireland.
Walk on the cliff top along this sweeping line and gradually drop down, salivating at what is below all the way. Many would be satisfied with this - but there is a rough sheeptrack dropping down some 150 feet to the storm beach, aided if necessary by a fixed rope which is in good shape and is useful for the last drop over rocks.
This storm beach has graduated lines of large pebbles buliding up to around 50 feet from the water and is a beachcombers paradise if took the time to fully explore. On a wild winters day i have no doubt that this would be like heaven on earth. Spent an hour or so here looking around and having lunch before reluctantly climbing back up.
Another delight is to come in the shape of the Glenlough River, which has numerous waterfalls and i have seen trout jumping here in the summer. This drops into the ocean with a little waterfall. There are the remains of old dwellings if want to head up the valley.
Drop down to sea level, saw seals again here today as in past, before climbing up the lower slopes of Slievetooey. The length of cliffs dropping down the western flank soon reveal themselves as they stretch in a seemingly unending line. Again sea stacks are below and gulls using them as bases to launch off and soar below the cliffs. It is hard to describe how impressive these cliffs are - Slieve League does have it i think but only just - and think of the difference in the number of eyes who have seen these cliffs!
The cliffs kept rising and rising to over 1,000 feet before the pull of Slievetooey tore me away. Across the water to the north and west snow capped mountains told a tale of the harsh late March weather. A stiff breeze told me how cold it was as my boots crunched over patches of old snow. The broad stoney top of Slievetooey Far West Top at over 1,500 feet gave a vantage point back over the wild coast just travelled. From the summit cairn the clear air gave views across Donegal Bay to the mountains of Sligo, the Bluestack Mountains and the iconic hills to the north of Donegal.
I descended with the golden glow of a falling sun at my back, dropping carefully around the very steep ground above Lough Anaffrin, heading nearly due south to rejoin the lonely road back to Port. There was a long walk back to the cottage as darkness came but not before I was looking down a valley that had a falling sun illuminating the west and a rising moon illuminating the east.
Nothing more to say really, except can see some of this by following the youtube link. Enjoy.