Fanad Cliff Walk


Looking across Lough Swilly to Inishowen.


I had driven to the Fanad Peninsula in Donegal on a quest to find the Great Pollet Sea Arch, but the unexpected good weather had tempted me to do a bit of hill walking first on Murren Hill, or Cnoc na Boirne (  It was a fairly short walk, and soon I was back to my original mission, but finding the arch was more difficult than I thought.  First, I found that the area where I roughly knew it to be, was a maze of small roads, and some of the most promising tracks down to the coast had no tresspassing signs and houses alongside.  As I drove around the roads, getting directions from locals where I encountered them, I narrowed it down to a dead-end track overlooking the sea, with room to park the car.  The arch itself will have to wait until my next post however, as although I was actually only metres from it, it was hidden from where I was standing.  I set off hopefully in the opposite direction along the cliffs, heading north towards Fanad Lighthouse.  I quickly realised that I must be going in the wrong direction, but I just couldn’t resist continuing, drawn by the stunning views down on the sea stacks below, along the line of cliffs, and across Lough Swilly to Inishowen.  I ended up walking almost as far as the lighthouse, along the undulating heights on this fantastic stretch of coastline.



Starting off where the narrow road petered out.



The Urris Hills on the other side of Lough Swilly.  If I had walked straight ahead down to the shore here, I would have seen the arch straight away, but I didn’t regret missing it initially and instead heading north along the coast.






The first buttress of the cliffs, and there would be no turning back without exploring further now.






Cresting a small rise, a more expansive view along the coast opened up.  I also startled a hare here, making it leap up, almost at my feet, and race off.









The sea was a deep blue, with green patches where submerged rocks came near the surface.  More colour from the green grass and purple heather.  Combined with cliffs, sea stacks and tiny storm beaches.  A spectacular coastline.









The white stony beach was near my starting point, and it was there that I would later find the sea arch, hidden almost all the way from this side.



The cliffs rose and fell all along this stretch with a couple of steep climbs.






Another climb ahead.






A smaller version of the sea arch, but not the one I was looking for.






The dark, stormy skies I had seen earlier from Murren Hill were still sometimes apparent, especially north and east, out to sea and over Inishowen.



But also some glorious sunshine.



Reaching a high point, and I could now see the lighthouse.









Looking back at one of the high points on the cliffs that I just walked up over.  Around this point, I turned back to retrace my steps.












I would have continued as far as the lighthouse having come so close, but although it is difficult to tell in these wide angle shots, it was covered in scaffolding for painting or maintenance and wouldn’t have made for good closer shots today.









An unfortunate sheep’s skull in the heather.



Almost back where I started.



A last look along the cliffs, now in a sign of things to come, in shadow from passing cloud.


By now, I realised that the arch would be seen from the little stony beach seen in the earlier shots, and began to make by way down to it.  It had been my main objective for the day, but I hadn’t seen it yet and had already had a great hill walk, and a walk along a magnificent coastline.  Not bad for one day, and my next post will be final part of my trip.












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