Monday, October 10, 2011

Slieve League Cliffs and Donegal, Ireland

Well, we've been back for over three months. Three months! And for almost each day of those three months, I've spent at least a few minutes a day daydreaming that I was back in Europe on our trip. So I decided it's high time to get around to detailing what we did on our great big fabulous trip!

First up: our flights over, and our first days in Ireland, which included the Slieve League cliffs and the town of Donegal!

We had a five hour layover in Toronto, and found the airport to be very nice & clean! Shorty played on the super people mover, and we took a cool fish-eye photo of an art installation in our terminal.

Our time in Ireland was amazing. Cool. Refreshing. But not exactly relaxing. In fact, almost every minute of our trip to Ireland was packed with activities, because we only had four and half days there!

We arrived in Dublin, got in our rental car, and drove the three and a half hours across the country to Co Donegal. We considered going straight to our hotel to freshen up, but then decided we would just crash if we did that, so we powered through and went straight into sightseeing!

Driving on the right hand side of the car!

First on the list? Slieve League Cliffs. Apparently, you drive through Killybegs and make a quick left about half way through town to go out to the cliffs. Only, we definitely missed the quick left, so we ended up overshooting the cliffs the first time around and ending up at Glencolumbkille. (See the map below - the far left peninsula part.)

TRAVEL TIP: The left turn to Slieve League coming from Donegal is quite easy to miss. If you get all the way out of Killybegs, you've gone too far. And Killybegs is a pretty small town, so you'll know once you're out of it! If you miss it, just turn around and drive slowly, looking at the signs on the right hand side.  Or just do what we did, and go explore Glencolumbkille for a bit!

Glencolumbkille was also stunning, and we found the cutest little wool shop on the way! Shorty, M & I got matching hats (silly!) and we got BF an equally silly shirt.

Glencolumbkille (at least that's where we think we ended up) was just beautiful. It's so amazing to me that this is just the normal view for the people who live in this area!

After Glencolumbkille we got back in the car, asked for directions, and actually made it to the Slieve League cliffs.

Now, I had heard a number of things about these cliffs. But the biggest thing I saw on any page I found about them was that getting to them was kind of difficult.

There are a couple of places you can park for the cliffs. There's a lot at very bottom of the road that leads up to them. And at that lot, there's a paved road that leads up to the cliffs. There's a fence blocking cars from going up, but apparently it's no big deal to open the gate and let yourself through, so long as you close it behind you.

I'm actually not sure the purpose of this gate, as it's perfectly acceptable to drive all the way up to the top of the cliffs. The road does get a tad narrow in parts, and it seems like it would be a bit scary to drive - especially if you're American and driving on a different side of the road than you're used to - because there aren't any guard rails preventing you from rolling down a hill in certain parts. But for the most part, the road seemed sound and fine.

We ended up walking from the bottom of the hill, because we had been in a car or in a plane for about 20 hours at that point and wanted the walk. It took us about 25 minutes of a brisk pace to get up to the top of the hill. It was an fairly easy walk - the road is paved - but on the way, the majority of it is uphill. Gorgeous views, though!

And then we were there, at the Slieve League cliffs.

BF went out on a ledge for this shot - I was so nervous!

In the middle of this shot is a teeny tiny little speck - that's BF.

The cliffs were amazing. Just breathtaking. And after the long day of travel we had, the fresh, clean air felt awesome. It was super windy at the top of the cliffs, but that didn't stop us from exploring. Next time we go, I'd love to spend more time up there. Apparently there are several hikes you can take, but since we got there so late in the day, we didn't want to venture too far.

The cliffs are supposed to be the highest sea cliffs in Europe, and they're twice as high as the Cliffs of Moher near Galway, and much less touristy. There's a boat that leaves out of Killybegs that I'd like to try out next time - the views of the cliffs from the ocean are supposed to be astounding!

Our shadows on the walk back to the car!

First pint of Guinness of the trip, at a little bar on the drive back to Donegal.

We finally made it back to the hotel around 9:30pm, and it was still nearly full daylight out! We checked in, then went foraging for food - which was more difficult said than done, as by 10pm, though it was still light, most of the restaurants were closed. We found a little shop that was still open and ate some very greasy fish & chips, then we were all down for the count.

The next morning, we explored Donegal town.

It's such a cute little town! We opted out of going into the Donegal Castle, though next time I'd like to do that. And instead, we walked down the pier to what used to be the Donegal Friary. There's a cemetery there that was quite interesting to walk through. Across from the cemetery and friary is a little embankment with houses on it. Those people have a great view of the Donegal Bay!

And then there were some really fun signs.

After exploring Donegal, we drove south. Shorty & M had never seen Dublin, so they were splitting from us for a few nights in order to check out the stuff we had already seen. They were scheduled to take a train from Sligo to Dublin, so we set out with the intention of seeing as much as possible in between!

Part 2 of Ireland coming soon!

1 comment:

Jesica said...

I love Ireland! So pretty!