So I have to keep backtracking because I can’t keep up with all the great things about Donegal. And now I’m in Northern Ireland and there’s some kick ass things to see and do here as well. Stay tuned.
Anyway, I’ll back up again to last week — Easter Monday.
And a lot of Donegal was still very busy as the Easter Holidays bring a 2 week break for schools. So the kiddos are out the week before Easter and the week after. And often the parents are off work the week after Easter. Sometimes just Good Friday and Easter Monday. It depends. But many folks take a holiday from Good Friday on through to the next weekend and get a good week to 10 day break.
So Easter Monday in Dunfanaghy and this part of Donegal was quite busy.
And the weather was fabulous — at least by Irish standards. It was dry, although cool, with a mix of sun and clouds.
One of the major “must do” on my list while in Donegal
Was to make the walk to Tramore Beach. Not only did I find it in the Lonely Planet guidebook, but my hosts — John and Barbara — highly recommended it. Barbara gushed about how much fun it was to walk through the dunes.
Well I was very much looking forward to this and had my fingers crossed for good weather.
And the weather gods smiled upon me.
I decided to walk all the way from The Whins B&B to the trail head (30-40 minutes) then make the walk out.
Now you can walk across the pasture where the cows are or you can begin in the little forest.
I chose the forest as I tend to crave being in trees in Ireland since the bloody English chopped so many down in the past. It’s nice to have a forest walk in Ireland because it doesn’t feel “common” there.
Then the fun begins.
You start walking up hills that are actually sandy dunes covered with tall grass. And you go up and down, a bit like a roller coast ride as you walk along.
There’s one point where there is a good size dune that people sled down. It’s hilarious to stop and watch kids and adults alike careening down a sand hill on a plastic sled — laughing and screaming at the same time. The kids really love this!
And then you get to a certain point up on the crest of a dune and…
You see it!
There just out ahead and a bit to the left of you lies Tramore Beach — a beautiful, long crescent shaped beach.
And the Atlantic Ocean is brilliantly blue-green under a rare sunny day in Donegal.
My jaw dropped. My breath caught.
I was stunned.
Everyone said it was beautiful. But I wasn’t prepared for this.
It was breathtaking.
I kept walking through more dunes, up and down and down and up.
I would see the beach. Then I wouldn’t.
Finally I came to a gate and started to make my way down to the beach, near one end.
And I looked out at the water and across to Tory Island and the other headlands to the west.
Then I looked down the beach
And realized how long this beach was. And how few people were there. There could have been a dozen people there or a few more.
But I felt like it was just me.
It’s that isolated.
It’s that big.
And it’s that unique.
It’s simply a special place.
And, as with most things in life, worth that extra effort of walking a few kilometers (maybe 2 miles) to get there. The best things in life usually are those things that we have to work a bit more for.
I walked all the way down to the other end.
I sat on a rock and had a little snack, taking in the beauty and the uniqueness of Tramore Beach. It’s a rare gem, which is phrase I don’t like using. But it really is exquisite.
As I walked back up the beach I paused several times, turning to the sea to take it all in.
Looking back one last time, I reluctantly began to walk back up the dunes to begin the roller coaster walk back to the road. And I was struck by a sad thought — I’d never have that feeling again of seeing the beach off in the distance for the first time. You can never quite have that first feeling a second time, can you? I’ve come close with seeing the Sciliar and Castelrotto, Italy. I wondered if I would have that feeling again when I returned.
I trekked back to The Whins
In time to change clothes, freshen up then get back to town.
You see Mondays and Fridays brings traditional music to one of the local pubs — Patsy Dan’s. It’s a little place with lots of wood and a tiny bar. But it is THE best pub in town. And I’d missed the trad music my first Monday. So I had to go. And they play early so I don’t have to be up late which is great. ‘Cause music starting at 10:30 is too late for me!
When I walked in it was already crowded.
But I got my pint and actually got lucky as someone was giving up a bar stool right near the music. Score!
Then the musicians began to play. And my foot started tapping.
And my heart smiled.
I sipped my lovely Guinness and felt so much at home.
I talked to some other folks, a lovely young couple, from Belfast. They too were loving it.
There was a young girl, maybe 13 or 14, who had her tin whistle. It’s kind of like a recorder.
Anyway, I was so impressed as it was all older men playing and there she was joining in and playing with them — as a young person and as a female. Girl power!!
Reluctantly, I left about 8:30.
The music was still going, but it was almost over.
I walked back to The Whins knowing I had yet another perfect day in Donegal.
Beautiful beach with a fun walk. Gorgeous weather. Traditional Irish music and a tasty pint of the black stuff. And some fun times with the Irish.
Yup! One of the best days of my life!