Showing posts with label Fanad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fanad. Show all posts

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fabulous Fanad!

Fabulous Fanad!
Donegal. Day 3

Welcome to Fanad
The roads called again today, this time those of the fabulous Fanad peninsula.

But first let me tell you that we have had a spectacular drive down from our cottage on the hills above Downies every morning so far, the golden sands of Sheephaven Bay and the blue of the Atlantic waters filling the view. So there was no trace of temper at all today when we had to slow down as a farmer drove a half dozen cattle to a nearby field. Just relaxed and enjoy the view.
Some fine views too as we left Carrickart behind and drove over the Mulroy Bay Bridge, our entrance to the Fanad peninsula. Mulroy Bay is unexpectedly large and its waters accompany us for much of the journey towards Kindrum which has its own lake.

Soon we came across the first of the day’s spectacular bays, this a very long one called Ballyhiernan Bay where we were greeted by another bunch of cattle (see pic). Fanad Head was now within easy reach and it, with its lighthouse, looked so well in the morning sunshine.
Walk (under golf course)
to access Portsalon beach
But even better sights awaited as we drove down the east coast of Fanad. Stopped at Portsalon and reached the beach via a passage sunk into the golf course, the beach trekkers protected by an overhead net, the golfers facilitated by little bridges overhead.

The beach is huge but we didn’t realise how big it is nor how beautiful the beach (and Ballymastocker Bay) is until we reached the heights of Saldanha Head. Took our breath away, the camera going click, click, click! 
Fantastic beach at Portsalon
Not so nice though for the British frigate after which the head is named as it was lost here in 1811. There were no survivors out of the estimated 253 aboard, and some 200 bodies were washed up on shore.

Called then to Rathmullan (from where the ferry crosses Lough Swilly to Buncrana) and then Ramelton. Up then to Milford and the listed St Peter’s Church, with its separate bell tower. The church was built as recently as 1961.
Old docks at Ramelton
Almost got into a panic about dinner as we realised how many of the local restaurants were closed on Mondays, indeed quite a few opening only Fri-Sun at this time of year. But, the Rosapenna Golf Hotel, perhaps the closest to us, came to the rescue.
St Peter's Church (1961) at Milford, a listed building
Sipped an aperitif in the bar as we waited. All the pictures and most of the conversation, aside from some political, currency and culinary strands, were golf orientated in the very pleasant surroundings. The restaurant, with a stunning view, over the local beach, was equally luxurious, the service Donegal soft and Donegal friendly.
Caviar Muscovite 
And the food was excellent. Starters of Caviar Muscovite and Orange Segments in Kirsch got us underway. The mains, served with lots of vegetables, were also excellent. CL was delighted with her Escalope of Veal Viennoise while my Grilled fillets of Hake with a sun-dried tomato and basil dressing was also top notch. Add in tea or coffee in the lounge and the lot, with two glasses of wine and an included 12.5% service charge, came to €79.87. Not a bad end to another brilliant day. Drops of rain now but fingers crossed for tomorrow!
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Saturday, June 8, 2013

500 kilometres to Donegal haven!

Donegal Diary
Day 1
Three o’clock had been the target arrival time at our cottage in the hills above Downies in County Donegal. And, after close to five hundred kilometres, we met our hostess bang on time. 

There had been a few interesting stops in between, one at Drumcliffe Churchyard, just north of Sligo, the burial place of William Butler Yeats under the shadow of Ben Bulben. Cast a cold eye on death.... But here too is a lovely cafe serving sweet pastries and Bewley’s Coffee and they also sell quite a few high quality souvenirs.
On then to a tweet-up with chef Zac Gallagher at the Leghowney Community Centre, our first stop in Donegal, where he is part of the regular Country Market every Saturday. James McCuddy is a main driver in the movement here – he has a great admiration for the way the local food movement has developed in Cork and hopes Donegal can learn from it. We had quite a chat before heading off for Downies and our three o’clock appointment.
Bridge to Fanad
This cottage is not in the middle of nowhere. It is at the end of nowhere but comes equipped with fantastic window seats, a box bed by the fire and a four poster bed upstairs and loads of other innovative touches. But is has all the modern gear needed for a comfortable holiday including Wi-Fi. Even a welcoming bottle of wine!

Sheephaven Bay
But that is not all. Being high above Downies it has fantastic views over Sheephaven Bay –just waiting now for the sun to go down. Actually, just after we had settled in we were driving again, this time taking the trip around the Rosguill peninsula, the one to the west of Fanad. It is the one we are on, small but beautiful.
Back from the drive, it was time to eat. Had nothing all day except a gorgeous Almond slice at the Drumcliffe Tea Rooms and a very tasty Goat Cheese Tart from Zac

Window seat at cottage
Down in Downies, also known as Downings, the beach was packed, with people and cars, just like Redbarn in the good old days. Had a walk along there to add edge to the appetite and then strolled over to the local hotel, only to be told the restaurant was booked up until 8.30.
No good for a starving Corkman but the receptionist cheered us up by telling us they were doing bar food. The service was very friendly but rushed and a little hit and miss - understaffed! On the other hand, the food was rather good.

Cottage window
Started with a Warm Duck Salad and then tried the Sirloin Special. The meat was class, the mashed potato, well it was mashed potato. CK’s Salmon was one of the best she’d had and the Pak choi went well with it. She also had a mound of the mash.
A bottle of Valpolicella completed the picture and now we are ensconced in the cottage, supping the hostess’s Merlot and waiting for the sunset. To see it at its best we’ll probably have to stumble up the hill by the garden and no doubt stumble down again!