It is now Saturday 1st August 2015, the last day of my Wild Atlantic Way Trip. From start of the trail to this point has been five full, long days, today being the sixth. My target – The Wild Atlantic Way in 1 Week. I have only one more leg to do and it will be achieved, with a full day to spare. Result, almost.
Today’s leg looks a short one, Letterkenny to Muff in Donegal. Muff as you can already expect must be one of the most photographed town signs on the whole island. It is called Muff after all! I estimated today leg about 200 miles, for once this estimate was reasonably accurate!
Yesterday’s horrendous weather is a distant memory, but there are still a few very dark and ominous clouds floating about. Fingers crossed!
One Signature Point on the Route today : (The most Westerly point on the above map is Fanned Head which was covered on 31/07/2015).
- Malin Head :
Rugged yet inviting, Donegal’s Malin Head is steeped in history and offers activities such as walking, fishing, swimming and bird watching. Here, north of Trawbreaga Bay, you can view Five Finger Strand, home to some of Europe’s largest sand dunes. At low tide, you can even spot the wreckage of the ‘Twilight’, which sank in 1889 while sailing to Derry. For more history, follow the coast road. You’ll pass the old radio station, built in 1910, and The Tower, a derelict signal station located on Banba’s Crown, the most northerly point in Ireland. It’s the perfect place to relax with a picnic, as the stunning panorama includes Inistrahull and Tory islands, as well as the Scottish hills on a clear day. Plus, you can work off any extra indulgences with a walk along the cliffs to Hell’s Hole, a chasm where the tide rushes in with impressive force. If treasure hunting is more your speed, head east to Ballyhillion beach, which dates back to the ice age and is known for its many semi-precious stones.
Today’s leg was actually completed very quickly, the roads were good and the traffic was pretty light. As you can see in the above photo there were two definite weather options in play. Some crazy big storm clouds rolling in and some glorious sunshine. An enjoyable ‘scoot’ round the coast and I was Malin Head before I knew it. On this occasion I could only describe my timing as perfect. As I was making my way towards the final couple of kms I noticed a huge number of tractors on the road. Now I get that the main occupation here is one of farming, but really there were far too many tractors and they were all heading the same way as me.
Other than the tractors there wasn’t really any other traffic about and the good and courteous nature of the locals meant they all were nicely tucked in and I could get out and round them with little trouble.
Then came the actual road to Malin Head, the final stretch. More tractors. All inching their way in single file along the road. As I reached Malin Head itself I was waved down by a guy with a flip board, it all became clear. A Charity Tractor run. The chap informed me that in about 45 mins or so all the tractors would be forming up and doing a lap of the peninsula. This was good advice, it gave me a clear 35 minutes to get my photos and get away a dodge. Thanks Clip board man!
So that’s how it happened, a quick visit, photos took and off I went round the same peninsula these guys were about to tour, a clear road for me and Heaven help any one who came along a little later!
It all worked out nicely apart from one aspect, whilst completing the route round the coast, a number of miles after Malin Head, I noted a barn, that was converted to an old gift shop / antique shop that looked full of ‘pruck.’ I really wanted to stop and have a look at it, although the tractors chugging down the road put me off, it’s definitely a stopping point for the next trip.
The next sign I spotted was Muff, and as every man and boy knows when you see a roadsign that says Muff you stop and take a photo, so I did!
If I am being totally honest this leg completely took me by surprise, I drove into Muff and out the other side, then seen this sign…
So there you have it it that was it. When I reached the sign I was actually a little saddened, I don’t know how I expected the the route to end, but I reached the end so quickly it was all sort of like ‘oh, that’s it then.’
A few photos and quick trip back into Muff to fill up on fuel, which if you are ever here you will notice lots and lots of Northern Irish motors filling up, thanks to the good Euro rate and cheaper fuel, it is a no brainer. And if you happen to be wondering where the border is, it is in the above photograph. See the ‘National Speed’ Limit sign in the far right of the photograph, that’s pretty much the border. No crossing point, no police, no restrictions, no barbed wire, nothing, just the start of the Causeway Coastal Route!
The WWII Lookout point at Malin Head :
How fitting, a rainbow at the end of the trip :
Another Coastal Eire Sign so WWII pilots knew where they were :
Here you can see the start of the tractors forming up :
And just like on that day it’s time for me to get out of here, I hope you enjoyed reading about my #WAWIn1Week Trip, and as I am no writer, I hope you enjoyed the photos more! Hopefully a few people looking to make the trip find these posts and get a good idea of what there is to see and do and it inspires them to look a little deeper, and more so I hope that some people who where not thinking of making the trip find a little inspiration or ignite enough of a spark to make them visit and complete the route or even part of it!
I only did the Signature points and along the route there are literally hundreds more spots to see, there are local trails that take you off the WAW but bring you back right where you left off. I covered about 1,600 miles on my trip, the truth is that number could be so much higher the more you explore. Remember there are two good ways to do this trip.
- Flat out – you have limited time and you want to see as much as possible. Try the #WAWIn1Week Challenge. And it is a challenge! Big miles and long days, but a great road trip. Make sure you tag your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as #WAWIn1Week
- Break it up – you could spend a couple of weeks on each leg of this trip, giving yourself a ‘basecamp’ and working on a county or two exploring everything it has to offer.
Only you know what will suit you but whatever you decide, enjoy it. It is the world’s longest dedicated coastal route after all, so you’ll be partaking in a record breaker however you decide to proceed!
Enjoy and thanks!