Looking south along the east coast of the Fanad Peninsula to Ballymastocker Bay beach at Portsalon, with Inishowen on the other side of the Lough Swilly sea inlet.
In my last post I was showing the many older photos I’d taken on several visits to the Fanad Peninsula in Co Donegal. One of the landscape features that had always caught my eye was Murren Hill, also known as Cnoc na Boirne. Although it isn’t high at only 227 metres, I knew that there would be great views in this beautiful part of Donegal, and it was definitely on my list of hills to climb. On this day in early May however, I wasn’t planning any hillwalking, instead aiming to find the Great Pollet Sea Arch. The weather forecast wasn’t good, and I thought I could get to know the location of the sea arch for future photos. The forecast seemed to be wrong however, and nearing Murren, I decided on a whim to walk it today.
On the drive up along the western edge of the peninsula, I stopped a few times for views over Mulroy Bay.
Leaving the shore along Mulroy Bay as I reached the northern end of the peninsula, I turned inland, and got a good view of Murren across Kinny Lough.
Murren Hill and, to its right, Dun More, from across Kinny Lough.
I cirlced the hill in the car, trying to find a route up that didn’t involve walking too close to houses or farms, which was proving easier said than done. On the plus side, it did present me with some nice views down over the several loughs around the northern end of Fanad.
I eventually settled on an approach from due east of the hill, practically at its foot. Crossing a little burn and cresting a small ridge, I was soon on the short, but steep ascent.
It really was a steep climb from this side, and I had to stop several times to catch my breath, each time getting increasingly good views with height. I also encountered a frog, a small herd of goats, and higher up, found myself looking down on a peregrine falcon circling below – a magnificent sight.
Map-like lichen on the rocky slope.
Some resident wildlife.
Goats on the hillside.
View towards Portsalon and Ballymastocker strand.
I could now see over the high ground to the east, to Dunaff Head in Inishowen.
Very steep in places.
You can just see my car on the road below in front of the houses.
The Urris Hills on the other side of Lough Swilly.
A passing rain storm over the sea to the north. Maybe the weather forecast wasn’t that wrong.
As I got close to the top, the ground began to level out a bit – a relief for my legs. I could also see heavy rain showers hanging like a veil below dark clouds in some directions, so pushed on quickly for the summit to take advantage of the good weather while it lasted.
Inishowen stretched out along the horizon.
Some of those showers and threatening skies.
Arriving at the top and the trig pillar, I tried to ignore the intrusive, large communications mast, concentrating on the newly revealed views over the northern part of the Fanad Peninsula, Rosguill and Horn Head in the west, and the Derryveagh Mountains in the distance.
I also wandered past the summit a little in the direction of the close by Dun More hill. I had half a mind to continue on to this lower hill, but there were some very dark looking skies around, and I thought there might even be lightning, so I abandoned that idea. Instead I took in the views before returning to the summit of Murren.
Getting darker now as the clouds encroached.
Back on the summit, I felt the first raindrops on my skin, and so started back down the steep eastern slope, heading for the car. Luckily, the worst of the cloud and rain by-passed me, leaving me in sunshine again for the walk down. At the bottom, I turned my attention again to my original objective for the day, finding the Great Pollet Sea Arch.