Hidden Gems of Ireland: Gweedore Bay and Doonbeg Wreck

Donegal Gweedore Bay 2 2016.jpg

Are you looking to find the hidden, magical gems in Ireland away from all the tourists?Then make a plan to explore one of the most mystical, beautiful beaches in the Emerald Isle…..Magherclogher Beach in Gweedore Bay. This little slice of heaven is located in County Donegal in the Northwest of Ireland.  I stumbled upon this beach while doing research for my trip around Donegal in May 2016. I knew I had to visit when I spotted a rugged old shipwreck on an Irish beach outside the small town of Gweedore.

The Bunbeg shipwreck is affectionately known as Eddie’s Boat to locals; the ship ran aground during a storm in the 1970’s.  She has been there ever since and is Gweedore’s version of the Titanic. I was so amped up about exploring the wreck and photographing and then we arrived at Magherclogher Beach.

What I hadn’t planned on, was the stunning scenery that met my eyes, as my family of four descended onto Magherclogher Beach. We were THE. ONLY. ONES. for miles!!!! Every photographer’s dream! We happened to arrive (luckily) when the tide was out at around 8pm….just in time to watch the stormy dark sky go from gray and moody to highlighted by gold. The result was this magical shot below……and I hadn’t even gotten close to the wreck yet!

Donegal Gweedore Bay 2016.jpg

Here is Eddie’s boat up close and personal. She was amazing!

Donegal Gweedore Bay Wreck 2016.jpg

My two kiddos got to pretend to be the captain as I snapped a ton of photos. The littles (who are both native Floridians) seemed to think this shipwreck blew the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, at Disney World, out of the water….no lines, here folks!

I looked around and was dumbfounded by the variety of landscape types all in one beach….caramel sand beach framed by evening light in front of me, an abandoned hotel on a grassy hillside to my right, rocky green coast to my left, and perhaps the biggest surprise of all….the majestic Mount Errigal at my back. I literally, stopped dead in my tracks when I first saw Mount Errigal.

Donegal Gweedore Bay Mount Errigal 2016.jpgThe clouds had moved and a ray of light shone directly upon the summit, begging me to take a picture. I don’t have a way to take a 360 degree photo, so just take my word for it, this place is phenomenal.

Tips for future visitors: Type Magheraclogher Beach into your navigation system to find it easily, check out the tide schedule and only visit when tide is low, bring good water resistant boots to explore, and plan your visit just before sunset for best lighting behind the wreck. The villages closest to Magheraclogher Beach are tiny, so I would recommend making this a stop on your route, rather than spending the night nearby.

If you are looking for a day plan you may want to follow our route: We started early from Dublin then explored Donegal town, Donegal Town Square 2016

next we drove along the iconic Wild Atlantic Way to Killybegs Harbor for photos,

Donegal Killybegs Harbour 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

then we visited Slieve League, Donegal Slieve League Cliffs 2016and finally checked out the Bunbeg Wreck before heading to dinner on the way to Millstone (we stayed at Millstone Cottages near Letterkenny). I highly recommend these cottages as they are clean, new, and the owners are fantastic.

The best part is, we did this day for nearly free (not including gas), only spending a couple euros each to visit Donegal Castle,

Donegal Castle 2016

 

and 6 euros to eat 99’s (delicious Irish soft serve with a chocolate flake).

Miss P 99

 

We also bought dinner. I recommend packing lunches, drinks, and snacks to maximize your time exploring and also because we found it hard to find open places serving food. Definitely, bring your cash, as many places don’t take plastic and ATM’s can be hard to come by. Lastly, everywhere we went we were either alone or in the company of only a handful of other people.

If you have any questions be sure to contact me as I’d be happy to give you advice, find me at ontheleftsideoftheroad on Instagram.

As always, pics are my own, so if you love them be sure to share them, just credit me and link back to my blog.

Cheers,

H.

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Irish Lighthouses to Explore

Donegal Fanad Lighthouse 2016.jpg

Happy travel Tuesday! So, where am I taking you today? Everybody loves a good lighthouse, so we are going to explore the fantastic Fanad Lighthouse in County Donegal, Ireland. This red and white beauty is perched atop lush green grass and overlooks the breathtakingly rugged Irish coastline. The lighthouse is located on the Fanad Head Peninsula  (on the Wild Atlantic Way),which also makes for a nice scenic drive after you are done visiting the lighthouse. Did you know Fanad Lighthouse has a self catering accommodation? For more details on spending a night in a lighthouse click here.

Donegal Fanad Lighthouse View 2016.jpg

Fanad is such a wonderful place to visit because you can run around the place wildly free. My kids enjoyed traipsing around the grassy grounds, but do be careful of sheep poo, as it is plentiful. There is an old military barracks that is fun to inspect and another stony cottage to climb in and look out over the water.

Adults can go a bit further and walk on the rocky terrain just make sure you have proper footwear. Donegal Fanad Lighthouse Rocks 2016.jpg

The parking is free and there are portable toilets onsite, however, there isn’t much in the way of food, so be sure to eat before you go and bring plenty of snacks and waters. The admittance price to tour the lighthouse and tower is very reasonable at 8 euros for an adult and 20 euros for a family of four. You can also opt, as we did, to simply explore the grounds free of charge. I do regret not touring the actual inside of the lighthouse, but children must be 1.2 meters tall to enter and neither of our little ones met that height, so we did not stick around to do two separate tours.

The Fanad Lighthouse is simply gorgeous whether you have a rare, sunny Irish day or you get a brooding, stormy sky day. I personally wish I could return on a stormy day to capture the choppy, whitecapped waves beating the rocky coastline, but that’s just the photographer in me.

Donegal Fanad Lighthouse Sun 2016.jpg

Cheers,

H.

*As always, photos are my own, so if you like them please share them, just be sure to link back to my blog.

Travel Somewhere Magical Today

Donegal Blue Boat Wreck 2016.jpg

One of my favorite trips in Ireland has thus far been the magical county of Donegal in the west of Ireland. There was fairytale type scenery around every bend with each being more beautiful than the last, if that is possible. I stumbled upon this rustic, blue boat wreck on the drive from Donegal Town to Slieve League. Our family of four threw the car in park and without a second thought descended on that beach. We were in luck to be at low tide as we passed by, so picture taking was a breeze.

My 3 and 5 year old kids were completely amazed with the boat and spent a good twenty minutes stomping around the wreck as seaweed and shells popped and crackled under their tiny feet. I couldn’t help but think how everyone here in Ireland wonders how we left Florida for this…..meanwhile, I think we must be the luckiest beings on the planet to experience this beautiful country one weekend trip at a time. The Irish kids at school always ask my children what Disney World is like because it is a magical place they dream of visiting. Of course, my kids will regal them of that time they went to see the Mouse, but I’ve never seen their eyes light up like they did exploring the wild, remote beauty of Ireland. The best part was that we had this whole wrecked ship to ourselves and the kiddos got to pretend they were captain of the ship….much cooler than Pirates of the Caribbean, I’d say! Donegal Up Close Blue Boat.jpg

My new, lightweight Sony A6000 captured this blue beauty perfectly, complete with brooding clouds and all. Good things I wasn’t weighed down, because the slippery terrain needed my full concentration. Some words of wisdom, tourists…I would say not to wear your fave sparkly, Steve Madden flats if you visit this little boat, but they did hold up extremely well :0 Plan on being there at low tide if you want to walk up to the boat and be careful of the slippery terrain and quicksand like properties of the beach. We chose to walk nearest the top of the beach of slimy seaweed, so we didn’t sink.

Wondering how to get here??? Take N56 from Donegal Town along the coast and the boat is on the left hand side shortly after passing through Killybegs Harbour. Sorry, those are pretty Irish directions, but you will see. What are you waiting for??? Ditch the plans for Magic Kingdom and take your kids somewhere truly magical today.

Cheers,

H.

Experience the Tranquility of Killybegs Harbour

Donegal Killybegs Harbour 2016.jpg

I can’t believe it has been a week ago already that I visited the lovely County Donegal, Ireland. On the drive from Donegal town up the coast to Slieve League we stopped for a quick pic of this serene harbour in Killybegs. The town is pretty tiny and quiet, so we didn’t spend anytime exploring it, but it is certainly a nice place to get beautiful photos if that is your thing. And since it is my thing, that is exactly what I did!

I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday today and remembers to slow down and enjoy this wonderful world.

H.

 

Why the Magical Donegal Town is a Must Do for Every Traveller

Top places to visit in Ireland…..sorry guys I won’t be taking you to the typical Ring of Kerry or Connemara today…no, no, I’m going to show you a gorgeous Irish village up in the northwest county of Donegal. The magical place I speak of is Donegal Town. I visited just a few days ago and I can’t recommend this place enough. County Donegal has stolen my little Yankee heart and I know it will steal yours too, wherever you hail from.

  1. A quaint Irish village with all the colorful buildings, traditional pubs, and even two large traditional Irish tweed shops. You will bump elbows with plenty of locals and get to enjoy their county’s twist on the Irish accent. The 30 cents an hour parking & cool, vintage anchor are just icing on the cake. Donegal Anchor 2016Donegal Town Square 2016
  2. The impressive Donegal Castle is less than five bucks a person (kids under 5 are free) with kids only 2 euros for admission. The best part is the tour is self guided, so need to wait around, you can explore this beauty all by yourself.Donegal Castle 2016.jpg
  3. A rather old looking Church of Ireland is located just across the street from Donegal Castle. The church is free to go into and provides an easy, yet dramatic photo of the kinds of church you hope to see in Ireland. Donegal Church 2016
  4. After a traditional Irish lunch in Donegal Town you can take a short, scenic drive through the Blue Stack Mountains and stop in the picturesque Killybegs HarbourDonegal Killybegs Harbour 2016
  5. Having spent the morning in Donegal town take the afternoon to continue driving up to Slieve League. On the way there you will spot this antique, boat wreck. If you are lucky as we were, it will be low tide and you slip around on the seaweed to snap an out of this world shot. Donegal Blue Boat Wreck 2016.jpgThese majestic cliffs are actually taller than Cliffs of Moher. Expect to see dramatic colors, hopefully moody Irish skies, and a landscape that is straight out of a fairytale. Donegal Slieve League Cliffs 2016.jpgA place where the sheep outnumber the tourists…you will be left to explore on your own and get stunning photographs sans random people in the background. Bonus: Admission and parking is free! Unless you have time/energy to make the long hike up to the Slieve League plan on opening up the gate and driving all the way to the top where there is a small parking lot. Enjoy!

Cheers,

H.

As always photos are my own, so if you love it then share it but please link back to my blog. Or buy it here.