The 'Hidden Gems On The Edge' Cruising Excursion
Having read the following and other traveler reviews on TripAdvisor (link opens new window) we could hardly wait to experience this tour...
Boarding our tour buses at Killybegs Information Centre
"The highlight of my 14 day cruise"
"Great tour, great guide, great driver, great scenery, great pub"
"An absolute must when visiting Killybegs"
Finally, it was the morning of our excursion. The filled-to-capacity mini-bus, one of three, pulled away from picturesque Killybegs harbor.
While the tour is available to all, most of our fellow travelers that day were cruising passengers from the Holland America Prinsendam ship. They had arrived in port just that morning.
"...You're all very welcome..." the friendly voice with a lilting Donegal accent announced through the speakers.
was already behind us as we journeyed along Southwest Donegal's
enchanting Atlantic coast. "My name is Ronan..." "I'm your tour guide
for today..." Ronan looked sort of familiar. Had we met him before?
The Slieve League Cliffs
The greatest gem of all on this cruising excursion is undoubtedly the magnificent Slieve League cliffs.
The Slieve League Cliffs
These coastal cliffs are barely
discovered compared to the famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.
The 'Hidden Gems On The Edge' excursion took us right up close to the cliffs, right to the viewing point at Bunglass where the views are panoramic.
We strolled around at our leisure, enlivened by the dramatic scenery and exhilarating atmosphere.
In fact the viewing point itself is on a clifftop, as is much of the winding approach road!
Before reaching Slieve League we stopped at two other coastal viewing points at Largy and Muckross. And the tour wouldn't have been complete without a stop at an Irish pub!
Largy Viewing Point
Atlantic Ocean and distant Ben Bulben mountain viewed from Largy
From this elevated viewing point, we saw for miles across the vast Atlantic Ocean to a southwestern horizon.
There were uninterrupted views to County Sligo and the distinctive anvil-like mountain, Ben Bulben directly south.
Saint John's Point Peninsula, Mullaghmore Head and the shimmering waters of Donegal Bay lay to the southeast.
And to the northeast lay the golden sand dunes of Fintra Beach and pretty Fintra Bay.
Muckross Viewing Point
We had left the beaten tourist track well and truly behind by the time we had arrived at the Muckross viewing point.
The minibus had wound its way steadily along a picturesque coastal road so narrow and remote, that we were in awe of Paul our driver's skill.
This elevated spot overlooks Muckross Point and Muckross Beach.
Although unsafe for swimmers, Muckross Beach is popular with surfers.
An Irish Pub
After visiting the Slieve League cliffs, we stopped at John The Miner's pub in Carrick village. A tour guide on one of the other buses, John Joe, livened things up with his guitar and a few rousing Irish ballads. He was accompanied by a local fiddler.
World War 2 Planes, Color-Coded Sheep... And The 'Spaniard's Chapel'!
Along the way, we saw numerous breath-taking scenes of remote, rugged, rural Donegal.
Fintra Beach viewed from Largy
We also saw a few points of historical interest and heard some fascinating and intriguing local facts. For example...
Several World War 2 airplanes had crashed at towering Crownarad mountain and nearby Fintra beach, even though Ireland had remained neutral throughout the war.
We passed a historic ruin known locally as the 'Spaniard's Chapel'.
And we saw sheep. Lots of sheep. They grazed in roadside fields, and on nearby hillsides! Ever wondered why the sheep have colored markings on their woolly coats? The marks help farmers identify their own sheep from those of other farmers.
The sheep wool is used to weave Donegal Tweed, a beautiful all-natural cloth loved by top designers worldwide.