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The North of Ireland

Oh, Ireland, you are so beautiful!!

I was moving between North of Ireland (IRL) and Northern Ireland (GB) frequently, so forgive me for just using the "North of Ireland" - it's easier!

Leaving the HU campsite near Enniskillen, I headed north then west. Some of the smaller roads were quite that - small! Basically just barely wide enough for a car, winding through forests and plantations of timber, across dales and up and down hills. It was wonderful - peaceful and soothing to the soul; not a person in sight, no cars, just me and the bike, pottering along these tiny roads - perfect!

Eventually, Donegal hove into sight, with myriads of bikers frequenting the coffee shops in the town. I'm told the roads around Donegal are always busy with bikes on nice days.

Below: the approach down into Donegal township.

I didn't stop, but headed further west, until I came to this headland, with its attendant lighthouse and stunning views.

It was a very winding, tight cornered little road, and constant dodging of the "shaggy sheep", as I call them, but worth the effort.

Above: I just loved this little thatched cottage with its laced down roof, now a craft shop.

Above: another viewpoint that had been recommended. The several photos below are of the views from the YHA hostel at Errigal Mountain, where I stayed. I'm now quite a lover of these hostels, as they are actually cheaper than camping grounds, with much better amenities, although I was spoiled by the first one at Errigal, as I had a dorm room to myself, and brekky was included in the cost of €19.

Below: this poster gives details of most of these photos, and of the area in general.

Below: I came upon this Franciscan Monastery, on a delightful headland. It was up several kms of forested one-way roads, then came out into the open with this view, and the following ones.

Further north and west, almost to the northwestern tip of the island of Ireland (if you know what I mean!), to another headland and its lighthouse, at Fanad Head. The signs below give heaps of information about the importance of this headland and lighthouse through the years.

Below: A forlorn old mill, which I believe was for milling flax many, many years ago.

I called in to Coleraine, to visit some guys I'd met at the HU Meeting at the weekend. David very kindly took Martyn and I for a drive around the local area, and we went to visit a beach, where it is legal to drive on the sand. David mentioned that on last year's Bank Holiday Monday, when the temperature was over 30 degrees, there were thousands upon thousands of cars in rows ten deep back from the water's edge - literally covering the entire beach. What an amazing sight that must have been.

David was meeting some friends here, who were kite flying.

The picture below shows the watery gap between Ireland (IRL) and Northern Ireland (GB). The foreground with beach is NI.

Below: a lovely old mile marker.

Below: A temple, on top of a tunnel above the beach.

Below: this waterfall feeds the creek winding along the bottom of the cliffs onto the beach and out to sea. Naturally, it rages down when it has been raining for a while.

Above: Kite flying.

After the beach, David did some much needed work to my bike, as the Autocomm wasn't even powered, , and one of the pods had come loose on the appalling rough roads I'd been over the previous two days. Then we all went for dinner at one of David's favourite restaurants. I can see why this is so!! The food is wonderful, and not overly expensive, either. The place was packed, so we were lucky to get a table straight away, as Martyn had to get back to Belfast to catch a flight home to Liverpool. The food was incredible - Chicken Bang Bang was a popular choice, delivered to the table with a gallows-like contraption, upon which was hooked - and swinging free below - a kebab of luscious chicken. Together with all the accompanying salads, chips, tobacco onions and mash, it was a feast fit for a king. Then David disappeared, and returned with three HUGE deserts - large, round, individual pavlovas reeking with fattening cream and strawberries, and to make matters worse, David had also heaped on a Rocky Road slice as well! One could barely move from the table when it came time to return to the house.

I rode on for a while, and eventually stopped in at the YHA hostel at Whitepark Bay. This is the view above from the carpark.

and above and below from my bedroom window. It doesn't get much better than this, does it?

I had to share the dorm room with another lass, and overall, it wasn't as good an experience as had been the previous night at Errigal. Too many signs everywhere "don't do this; do this; don't go there; lights out; lights on, etc etc etc etc" On and on it went, as if we were children!!!! And no brekky, either!

But I slept, which is the main thing, and I had the following day's adventures to look forward to ...

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