Dwight Peck's personal Web site

The north of Ireland, April 2007

Winter 2006-2007 spent waiting around for winter


Ireland (and Northern Ireland) in the springtime

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Horn Head and Donegal

We're going to walk out around Horn Head in county Donegal, tracing out one of the better routes chronicled by Joss Lynam, Best Irish Walks, 2nd edition (Passport Books, 1998). We've come up from the easily missed village of Dunfanaghy and started out from the old Coast Guard house at about 250m altitude.

That looks like Horn Head up there in the center. No, it's not, that's just a ruined old building part the way along. Horn Head is looming beyond that to the left.

Kristin, poised gracefully atop sea stacks of squashed layers of sedimentary something or other

The view downwards, towards what in Cornwall would be "Merlin's Cave", but here is probably "St Columba's Cave", or perhaps "Robert the Bruce's Cave".

Kristin viewing Merlin's or Columba's cave from a sedimentary pinnacle of sorts, 14 April 2007

The imposing coastline of Donegal. It's no wonder that so many Spanish seamen fleeing the Armada debâcle of 1588 experienced a strong sense of doom when their leaking galleons whacked onto those rocks.

Kristin and the ruined old building, with Horn Head off to the right

There are said to be the remains of two permanent lookout towers on Horn Head, one from Napoleonic times (ca.1804) and the other from World War II. If this is one of them, it's more likely to be the Napoleonic one -- since we left the car at the World War II one. (I'm speaking about the stone thing at the top of the hill. That's Kristin on the left.)

Napoleonic, eh? It looks more like a tiny version of the Bomber Harris dream for Germany's inner cities when the Allies got finished with the civilian populations there. But without the clever charring effects.

Kristin watching out for Napoleon's ships, with "Joe" the water bottle poking out of the window before her

THAT's not Napoleon! That's . . . that's . . . that's someone bigger!

And THAT's Horn Head.

And that's Kristin going up for a look-see, with "Joe" coming along for the ride.

Mr Peck in still another "contemplative mood" (more and more frequent these days and they can persist for hours)

Kristin departing from Horn Head, 14 April 2007, not prepared to wait until all the contemplation's finished

The west side of Horn Head, the "Tory Sound" in fact, because Tory Island is off there somewhere to the west

The coastline with Horn Head above, and very little room for mass tourism development. The surfing is awful here.

We're presently marching in a giant half-circle past Horn Head around the Coast Guard station, and now we're going along the coast for a while. This is an excellent walk but we're improvising, having missed the hiking book's route somewhere along the way.

Getting off the planned hiking route is not a problem as long as you're prepared to hurdle barbed wire sheep fences. Kristin, and "Joe" hanging out before, usually care not at all about little sheep fences.

That's Merlin's Cave down there, or St Columba's. Or Finn McCool's Cave.

Horn Head in the distance (from the far side of still another successfully-hopped sheep fence)

Another roofless farmhouse

It is a fascinating thing to poke about in such an old place and speculate about which rooms were what, where the upper floor level was and whose rooms were upstairs, how the family organized itself in the house and how they moved about in it usually, and try to imagine what their life was like so long ago. Like watching Downton Abbey.

UH OH! Kristin's got her Joe stuck in the barbed wire!

Kristin heading back towards the Coast Guard station whilst we went up over a few more swampy ridges on the way -- and once separated, some anxious moments till reunited once again. Wandering about in the gorse and thistles in hiking sandals, it's hard to plan a route in advance.

A quick stop in one of the villages on the road back to The Water's Edge in Rathmullan

Passing through Donegal city, almost missed it, 15 April 2007. Today we're on our way to the famous Slieve Leagh hike, and we've stopped at Donegal on the River Eske to buy The Guardian, The Independent, and some hiking snacks. It's kind of a grim-weather day, but the sun will probably burst out upon us soon.

Donegal Castle. With some strange tiny rooms up on top for people with enormous confidence in 17th century construction standards.

There it is, the main homestead. The Vikings had a fort here in the 9th century, and the O'Donnells settled in in the 15th century, but that "manor house" in the centre is subsequent.

That's Kristin admiring the older part of the house, seen through what's actually the servants' and tradesmen's door -- the front door for the family is one flight up to the right.

In fact, that's the front door, one floor up (like an Appalachian mobile-home). Sir Basil Brooke, a professional soldier for the English, was awarded the castle in 1601 and quickly Jacobeanized it for his family.

The great hall in the early 17th century house of the Brookes

The virtual Donegal Castle

Nice place to live for a while. As long as the neighbors are friendly and there's a good grocery within walking distance.

Now, let's get our Guardian and a bite to carry with us, and head off for the Slieve Leagh.

Another view of Donegal Castle. We're off to hike up Slieve Leagh, with a very ominous feeling about it.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 11 May 2007, revised 30 March 2008, 13 August 2014.


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