A Wandering Widow Post
After months on the road, moving to a new place every week was getting old, so I’d decided to set up a home base for the rest of the year. Aaaah, nothing like unpacking, stashing the suitcase and getting mail from home, especially when it’s in a vibrant city like Belfast. (Belfast, I <3 you).
But as it got closer to that first grief milestone I decided I needed a little distraction of the adventure variety, so headed out to Donegal, back on the Republic side of the border.
There was something wistful about the rugged beauty and isolation of the miles of coastline and trails that awaited me. Since I was visiting in the off season, there was hardly anyone else around. It suited my mood perfectly. There is something about walking tall, despite the ocean winds trying to blow you over, that reminds you how resilient you can be. And when the only music accompanying your thoughts is the sound of ocean waves, your heart has a chance to take control of your brain and mellow you right out.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
They say brain games help to prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s. I hope the constant confusion of switching between Euros and Pounds counts. And in case your brain gets confused by the conversations you overhear while you’re out and about, don’t be alarmed, you’re not drunk. Donegal is a Gaelic speaking county, so you’re as likely to hear conversations in Irish as you will in English.
Donegal is a long coastal county with a lot of options, and I chose to stay in the small village of Annagry (Anagaire in Gaelic). There are beautiful beaches and lots of hiking options here at the Northern portion of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. And even though it was November and raining sideways when I pulled into town, the sun did come out to play. I can’t stress enough not allowing anyone to talk you out of visiting Ireland in the fall.
THE RUGGED STUFF
Carrickfinn Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal. It’s easy to access by car, just park in the lot next to the airport. A long sandy beach, grass-covered dunes, and rocks to climb make Carrickfinn the perfect beach if you are looking for a little of everything. In warmer weather, you can even swim.
Mullaghderg (Red Plain) Beach is a hidden gem. The rough surf isn’t safe for swimming but reminded me of the beaches in my hometown. Watching the mighty waves crashing on the shore
Mount Errigal is the tallest peak in County Donegal. The weather didn’t cooperate for me to hike it while I was there, but there is a car park at the base, and you should be able to complete it in a few hours. I’ll be back for this one as the views from the top are supposed to be incredible.
Five-star service with a family feel is how I’d describe the Caisleain Oir Hotel. Honestly, the service was even better than when I was staying in the castle. This lovely hotel fronts the strand, so I was able to start each morning with an ocean view. After breakfast, I found a hidden spot perfect for morning meditation, although I should have brought a blanket and a parka because that ocean wind was COLD!
I don’t usually dine in when staying at a hotel since food is an afterthought and drinks are overpriced, but this was different. The bar and restaurant were there first (the old timers still refer to it as Jack’s), and the hotel was a later addition. The food is fantastic, and the bar has an impressive whiskey collection. The McDevitt family has been running things for generations, and I’d bet money Granny McDevitt would be proud of the care and attention her grandchildren continue to provide their guests.
To view more of my photos from Annagry, click here.