I recently went for a day trip to Donegal, it’s taken me a while to write about it because I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. I know all of Ireland is beautiful, but there really was something powerful about the time I spent in Donegal – and I probably went on the worst day weather wise. But this is Ireland, and if you waited for perfect weather, you could be waiting for a long time…..and who needs perfection anyway?
I left home in the lashing rain, and took a spin up to the pretty town of Ardara. There’s plenty of free parking (here I go with my local radio ad again), and I put on my trusty yellow rain coat and braved the sideways rain. Ardara is a heritage town, around a 30 minute drive from Donegal town. They are famous for their tweed, and many of the shops there focus on woven goods and knitwear, as well as Irish design. I enjoyed looking around and I picked up a couple of gifts from The Present Day. I’d left home without breakfast so I headed into the café in the Heritage Centre, it’s called Sheila’s Coffee and Cream, and they were very friendly in there. It was my first time to eat inside since restrictions have eased, so I had to show my Covid passport and give my details.
The food was gorgeous, I had French toast, which was served with berries, maple syrup, and cream, and came with complementary tea or coffee. I went for tea and it was served in a lovely tea cup, there’s something special about drinking tea from a China cup, very decadent.
When I left the café I made my way to Assaranca Waterfall, this is just outside Adara, on the way to Maghera Beach. It’s a narrow enough road but there are places to pull in to let other cars pass, and as I’d chosen the worst day of the ‘summer’ to go it was quiet enough. I will never forget the stunning view and I drove around the corner and saw the waterfall, it’s the most magnificent waterfall I’ve ever seen in Ireland. The poor weather and torrential rain that we’d had in the previous few days were all worth it, when I saw this beauty in full flow. I was totally blown away, it was the most amazing sight, I’d seen photos of the waterfall but nothing could have prepared me for just how spectacular it was.
When I arrived there was no one else there (another bonus of visiting places in poor weather), as I was there a couple of other cars arrived. They told me the day before the waterfall was just a trickle, so I was delighted I saw it in full force.
After the waterfall I headed to Maghera Beach, it’s just a short drive from the waterfall and is so worth a visit. There’s a short wooden boardwalk to get to the beach and if you go when the tide is out you can explore the beach caves. The only thing I will say is at the car park it says there is a fee for parking, I’ve no problem with this at all because the road is too narrow for parking, and at least there is a proper car park. When I was there, the office wasn’t open so I’ve no idea how much parking is.
There were only around 20 other people on the beach, so no issues with social distancing, and again it’s just a fantastic place to go for a walk and explore.
I’d recommend when you leave the beach and come out of the car park turn right, it’s a drive that will take your breath away, but it’s not for the faint hearted – as it’s a very narrow road, and I’m delighted I didn’t meet anyone. This is where the weather proved to be an issue, as it wasn’t really clear enough for decent photos.
I also took a drive along the Glengesh Pass, another spectacular drive, and room for two cars, so no real issue here. Again, the weather wasn’t the best for photos, but it was beautiful.
Next stop was Killybegs and a visit to to the Killybegs Seafood Shack – if you love seafood, you’ll love this place – it’s fab. I had scampi and chips and it was well worth the wait. Beware the seagulls, who will steal your food, given half the chance.
I took a little detour to St. John’s Point, this place is like being on the edge of the world. It’s rural and breathtaking, with little cottages dotted around, horses in windswept fields, wildflowers, and a beautiful beach. I could even see the mighty Benbulben from here.
So there you have it, my day trip to Donegal. A stunningly beautiful place, whatever the weather.