After leaving Grianan Ailleach I continued west through Letterkenny to the Glenveagh National Park. After leaving the capital of Donegal the landscape began to look at lot like the Isle of Skye, large, empty moors framed by mountains, under a wide blue sky. When I turned off at Glenveagh I was surprised by how forested the little valley was.
Parking up in outside the visitor’s centre, I ate my Centra bought sandwich and read a chapter of Michael Palin’s Pole to Pole before hitting the train. It is 4km from the visitor’s centre to the castle. There is a bus option, but I decided to walk the round trip, estimating it would take about an hour to reach the castle.
The walk along the lough shore was very pleasant. A sunny Sunday meant lots of people were out. Not only tourists, but local people and their families out for some fresh air and exercise. My walk up was punctuated with nods and hellos.
Glenveagh Castle does not have a grand approach. You just kind of arrive at the gate and lo there’s a castle. I dallied about in the modest pleasure garden, finding some sweet smelling flowers along the way. It took all of ten minutes to get through.
Wanting to get a good picture of the castle, I was met with a choice: to climb the great hill behind the castle or not? I opted to climb! Even though the day was sunny, I was soon chilled by the whipping wind, and climbed back down the mountain after getting a picture.
It was about two in the afternoon and I wasn’t quite ready to head back yet, so I decided to walk on another 3km or so to Glenveagh waterfall. The waterfall is nestled in the valley at the top of the lough. Very few of the castle patrons decided to make the walk. Although the castle grounds were teeming with people, there were only one or two pairs of people on the waterfall track. I saw mildly more cyclists – having a slightly easier means of transportation than legs – but on the whole, it was a solitary walk. From time to time I sang Disney to myself. Safe in the knowledge that not a soul could hear my lack of tune.
Glenveagh waterfall is next to a Hills are a Live-esque plain. I lingered for a few minutes to take pictures. By then it was time to head back the now 7km walk to the car. When I reached the castle again I realised I may have over estimated my abilities. Hiking and tramping was a favourite past time when I lived in New Zealand, but after two years of not going for long walks up inclines I seem to have lost it. I was very grateful to see the car and sat for several minutes trying to get feeling back in my fingers before driving (That’s where my lactic acid goes. My finger tips. It’s really annoying).Only a short drive later I was on the Atlantic Coast in the tiny town of Bunbeg. Although blink or miss it in size, the town boasts two chinese takeaways. One of which I sampled on Sunday night.
Tiernan managed to rally me over the phone into leaving the B&B and trying for a sunset on one of the many beaches around Bunbeg. I went out to a little bay near the ferry wharf and read more Michael Palin for an hour as the sun descended and the clouds rolled in. A little pink could be seen out to sea but for the most part the horizon was grey. Hopefully not a sign of terrible things to come!