A second 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.
A short walk brings the white beach of Port - a beach of pebbles rounded by water gentle and rough over the years. The river, which runs through a narrow ravine to the beach on its escape to the Atlantic, is crossed by a small concrete bridge. This track is part of Slí Cholmcille which is a section of the 280km Slí Dhún na nGall that circles around the remote landscapes of south west Donegal.
The track gently rises above Port, passing a memorial to those who lost their lives when 'The Sydney' sank in a fierce gale in 1870. Pass over another concrete bridge, which has a makeshift gate to manage sheep - this river tumbles over cliffs at the coast and is well worth following down. As head south views northward to Port with its backdrop of hill, cliff and seastack do pull on the neck.
Strike off the track as it heads uphill to follow the cliff edge which is a guide all the way to the old signal tower above Glencolumbkille. The clear blue morning sky was quickly filling up with the scuff marks of cloud pushed along on the keen easterly wind. Overhead jets screamed their way westward to the Americas, a journey undertaken exclusively on the cold blue waters of the Atlantic below not that long ago.
The cliffs here are not too high but do form part of the most wild and remote coastline that i have yet had the pleasure to walk. A couple of streams with thier little valleys are crossed and provided welcome shelter to trap some of the limited heat from the sun for a lunch stop. The ground continues to rise and soon the full majesty of Sturrall presented itself - a finger of land striking out jaggedly into the sea. It can be accessed but i have not had the pleasure (or courage?) to do so as yet.
The cliffs do now gain some height and rise to over 600 feet to the old signal tower atop Glen Head. This had a real gothic feel as the cloud had rolled in a gave a dark grey backdrop. Join a looped walk which drops off the side of Beefan and Garveross mountain. This brought quiet lanes which were followed into an equally quiet Glencolumbkille (well it was a cold late March). Quite a trapse located what seemed to be the only open public house where a cold pint of Guinness made it all worthwhile - the decor of the pub looked a old as that of the surrounding hills though!
Return was by way of the Sli Cholmcille as it crossed over Beefan and Garveross mountain, climbing through quiet lanes and then rough track. Passing a communications mast which brought 3G phone signals to Port - something i can have trouble getting at home. This is a more direct route than the outward bond section. The clouds had started to break again in the late evening and the resulting light gave a magical quality to Port and her remote landscape.
As ever I hope the words paint a picture in the imagination, though the above youtube link will add those captured at the time. Though Port and this coastline is constantly changing and never has presented the same face in the times i have visited - which will you see?