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  • Fiona

Beginning The Wild Atlantic Way in the Republic of Ireland - Malin and Malin Head

Updated: Oct 28, 2020


After leaving Derry, we drove to Malin where we stopped for a coffee and a stroll around the village green before heading to the northern most tip of the island of Ireland - Malin Head.

Malin Town has to be one of Donegal's best kept villages, it is a gorgeous wee village with a large, triangle shaped, village green. The village has won the National Tidy Towns Award on a number of occasions and there is a plaque noting this in a garden in one of the corners of the green.  The town was established is a 17th Century plantation village (for the English and Scottish settlers) and overlooks Trawbrega bay, towards the north of Inishowen.

The road to Malin Head

We took a wrong turn on our drive to Malin Head and were rewarded with a narrow road cutting through rugged, rocky and barren countryside, overlooking the coast and the occasional farmhouse. The only sign of life we saw on our accidental detour was a flock of sheep.

The weather changes so quickly on the coast - cloudy and raining one minute and then blue sky and sunshine five minutes later - which meant we got to see some stunning cloudscapes!

(One of the benefits of taking a road less travelled was that there wasn’t much traffic around and so we would just stop the car in the middle of the road and get out to take pictures!)

Malin Head

The beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way - apparently the world's longest defined coastal touring route - it follows the West coast of Ireland and begins (or ends) at Malin Head - Ireland’s northernmost point!

Early on Sunday the 19th of July we were the first to arrive at the Malin Head lookout (known as Bamba’s Crown) - although more tourists began arriving soon after us and so we didn’t quite have the place to ourselves.

We walked out to the point and stood on the windswept rocky headland with the waves crashing below us, taking in the stunning, dramatic sea views and unspoiled landscapes at every turn.

Malin Head is a rugged stretch of coastline that was formed millions of years ago by retreating glaciers. It has been a strategic lookout point for centuries - the British built a lookout tower at Banba’s Crown to keep an eye out for possible French invasions during the Napoleonic Wars and in 1902, a signal station was built close to the old watchtower; stone buildings were later built nearby to be used as lookout points during WWII as well as huge white letters created with white-painted stones spelling out “EIRE” - visible from the air they were there to alert any planes that they were crossing over neutral Ireland. The stone sign has been restored - picture below.

From the signal station, we went down some steps cut into the cliff face, to a narrow gravel path that we followed along the clifftop towards Hell’s Hole, a 30m deep chasm through which the sea roars. Alan walked out to a small peninsula to get a closer look at what seemed to be some sort of shrine. It was a wooden cross standing on a small plinth. The cross was in memory of a French tourist who fell into the sea here. Strangely, the plinth is covered with offerings of coins.

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