Covid put a stop to my gallop across the seas and oceans, but I have discovered some wonderful local walks, two of the best being in Bundoran in County Donegal. Bundoran is a seaside town, which is buzzing in the summer, but at this time of the year (late January, early February) many places are closed, preparing to open, usually around St Patrick’s Day.
The two walks I have enjoyed are cliff walks and, being on the Wild Atlantic Way, they boast panoramic views of Donegal Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
What I call the Cliff Walk is also advertised as the West End Walk, a short walk of about 1km overlooking sharp cliffs, a smaller version of the Cliffs of Moher, further south in County Clare.
Cement stairs lead down onto the rocks where there is a sea pool. Here the more hardy go swimming when the tide is out and sea fowl gather on the rocks to forage in rock pools and enjoy the bracing air.
There are other cement steps meandering down the cliffs but leading to nowhere. I can only assume they once aided Victorians or Edwardians to embark onto boats or assisted fisherman bringing home a catch from the bay. If anyone can tell me, I’d be really interested to learn more.
Rougey Walk above the cliffs to the north of Bundoran is a longer (and little more challenging) walk, but has some very interesting features.
The Fairy Bridge is one that has certainly fascinated visitors since the the 1700s and probably before. There are blow holes in the rocky landscape and in certain conditions the sea erupts out of these holes sending spray high into the air. I have seen the phenomenon but was not quick enough to take a photograph. One day perhaps.
Sadly, falling a little into disrepair is a memorial to six Canadian aviators and meteorologists. On 23rd January 1944 their Handley Page Bomber crashed into the cliffs near the Fairy Bridge. Two ladies witnessed the crash from the grounds of the Great Northern Hotel, which run along the length of Rougey. They went to help but the men were already dead. The fuselage was handed over to the RAF and the rest was burned. At low tide some of the remnants of the plane can be seen at the bottom of the cliffs. This summer when the days are longer I will explore the area further.
Rougey begins or ends, depending where you commence the walk at Tullan Strand or at the beach in Bundoran. Tullan is a beautiful stretch of sand where surfers make the most of the waves crashing onto the shore and Bundoran is a seaside town offering a great deal for everyone, especially gastronomers and music lovers. Hopefully the Sea Sessions will be held this year, Covid having halted the festival these past two. A good meal can be had in a number of eateries and hotels and I suggest you sample the seafood.
Take a further walk along the promenade and admire some of the sculptures on route. One of my favourites are the stone towels adorning a stone wall. (Note a Victorian pool to the left of the background in the photograph above!)
I am reliably informed the sea around Bundoran is a surfers’ paradise and there are surf shops in the town offering lessons and hire of equipment. I’m only a surfer of the web, preferring after my walks to enjoy a good cup of coffee. One of the best is to be had in a café called Foam, run by a three young men who are currently elsewhere as I write, but will be back soon. Cheers lads. Let’s hope for good weather and rolling waves this summer.