Port is a little harbour and stony beach in a remote part of Donegal, just north of Glencolmcille. It isn’t that far to walk there from Glencomcille, over Glen Head – roughly six or seven kilometres I’d guess, but there is no road in that direction. To get there by car involves a long drive, looping inland on a narrow twisting road, adding to the sense of isolation of the location. We drove there, the rest of the family not being quite so keen on hiking as me, and as I knew there was no way I’d get to walk all the areas I’d like to, I decided to treat this as a scouting trip for a future walk. As soon as we arrived, I was blown away by the scenery. The road ends at the little harbour and stony beach. In front of us was a curving bay, bounded to the north and south by steep cliffs, which had countless craggy off-shoots and sea stacks. To the south, a track lead up on to the headland and continuing in this direction would take you past the watchtower on Glen Head to Glencolmcille. To the north is Port Hill, with the ruins of an abandoned famine village near the bottom, and beyond that, if you continue walking, the Slievetooey mountain ridge and Maghera beach. It is definitely my intention to return some time and complete the walk from Glencolmcille, over Glen Head and past Sturral Head, up over Port Hill and on to Slievetooey Far West Top. But that was for another day. For now, I convinced my family, that as we were here now, it would be a shame not to walk at least a little way in each direction.
Arriving at the stony beach, with views of the cliffs and sea stacks on the southern side of the bay.
A slipway, and the pier just on the other side of the rocks.
First, we set off in the southern direction, crossing a bridge over a burn, and ascending the headland on a well-worn path.
The entire way, there were breathtaking views along the cliffs and sea stacks on both sides of the bay.
A short way up the headland, just off the path, we found a grave – the resting place of four bodies recovered from the wreck of the ship, the Sydney, which went down here in 1870. There were 19 crew lost, and only two survivors, a reminder that rugged coastlines like this may be stunning, but are also extremely treacherous.
The burial spot.
A closer view of the marker.
A little further along was another memorial for the loss of the Sydney and its crew, listing the names of all those lost, and the two survivors.
Another little bridge to be crossed.
A look back along the path we had come along.
It was hard to take our eyes of the coastal scenery, but there were good views inland too.
Here, you can see the remains of the abandoned village just behind the stony beach and harbour, with one modern dwelling too – the only house for miles.
Around this point, the path began to turn inland, and although I would have loved to continue on, at least as far as Sturral Head, I also wanted to go part of the way up Port Hill on the other side of the bay. There is only so far I can persuade my family to walk, so to get them up Port Hill, I had to turn now and go back to the harbour. As I said though, I definitely want to come back and do the whole walk some day. I took a few more shots on the short walk back down to the harbour.
A bemused onlooker.
I found this area to be absolutely breathtaking, and if this had been the end of the day, I would already have considered it well worth the trip, and a site for future visits. But next, we headed off in a northerly direction up Port Hill, and if anything, the scenery there was even more spectacular. Definitely enough to merit a separate post.