Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ireland - Slieve League Cliffs

In our desperate quest to have a day of cycling without rain, we were again lured north by the fiction foisted upon us as a weather forecast. So yet again, we loaded up the car and drove north, this time aiming for the fishing port of Killybegs, gateway to the rugged coastline of southern Donegal. 

Sadly, David also got word that he might be needed to work in Dublin the following day. So we feared this might be our last day on the road together. Therefore we decided to try to take in two of the landmarks that for John are symbolic of Donegal, the Glengesh Pass and the Slieve League Cliffs.

The world rally driving champion would have difficulty driving the speed limit on this road. I don't know what the geniuses in the NRA (the National Roads Authority, in this case) are thinking...

Rising almost 2000 feet above the waves below, the Slieve League Cliffs are among the highest marine cliffs in Europe. We'd been to the better known Cliffs of Moher in County Clare on one of my earlier visits to Ireland, and I remember having to stand far back from the edge, thanks to the real fear of being blown over the edge to the ocean 700 feet below. Well that was nothing compared to being swept over the edge of these cliffs that stood three times as high.

Our approach to the cliffs was rather dramatic. We had headwind, tailwind, rainbows, sunshine, showers and finally heavy windblown rain.

When we reached the end of the road where one can then walk out along a path for a mile or so on top of the cliffs, all the drama came at once. We laid our bikes down and quickly tried to get photos of the rainbow just beyond the cliffs. Then the rain blew in sideways, along with frigid temperatures. Other tourists huddled in their cars in the parking lot, while David, John and I hunkered down behind an info sign, taking what little shelter we could from the wind and rain.

After a short while, we got enough of a break in the weather where we actually could stand and try to get more photos. We decided to pass on the hike out on top of the cliffs, partly due due to my fear of exposure, but also worrying that our bikes would get blown away while we hiked!


We eventually made our way down to the Ti Linn Café, a few miles away from the trailhead and viewing spot. It was refreshing to find the main viewing spot on top of the cliffs unspoiled by the presence of an interpretive center or gift shop. Of course, it's probably because it's simply too windy to build anything up there.

We were early for any sort of meal, so instead we enjoyed scones and coffee before heading back to the village of Carrick. We were still a bit early for lunch, so we picked up some snacks for later. Then just outside the village, we passed a fish processing plant and I lost my appetite completely!

We continued on in the direction of Ardara until we reached the top of the Glengesh Pass, and began the very dramatic descent. Clearly we had come the easy way - for once.

Guess which direction we're heading?

It was a decent descent alright!

The view from the Glengesh Pass.

A favorable wind brought us back into Killybegs. David checked his messages and learned he had to return to Dublin for the following morning. Given the complicated train journey that John and I would face to make a planned rendezvous in Carlow (almost opposite end of the country) on Friday, we decided to forego any more riding in Donegal and keep David company on the drive back to Dublin.

Besides, the weather forecast suggested that Dublin might have sunshine. 

But I am definitely planning to come back soon to explore much more of Donegal and Sligo. With just a tiny taste of what the area has to offer, I am definitely left wanting for more. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this. Been there by car, not by bike. Stunningly beautiful.