Day Five: Derry & Inishowen Peninsula
Travel west along the northern tip of Ireland from Co. Antrim into Co. Londonderry, with the town of the same name as its focal point. The city lays claim to being the only completely walled city in the UK, and its fortification is one of the best preserved in Europe. The walls were completed in 1618 to defend the new merchant city from chieftains from Donegal. Reaching to 8 metres high in places, they have never been breached.
Continue west into the Republic of Ireland and Co. Donegal in its very northwest corner. Here, see some of the country’s wildest scenery – windswept peninsulas, precipitous cliffs and rocky headlands - which surround the rugged coastline. The Inishowen peninsula is the largest of the region’s northern peninsulas and includes Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head. With the stormy Atlantic Ocean for a neighbour, the area is renowned for epic coastal scenery, thriving birdlife & historical significance.
At the tip itself, find Banba’s Crown– or, for locals, “The Tower” – which was built by the British Admiralty in 1805 as part of a string of buildings right around the Irish coast to guard against a possible French invasion. From this tower, look north-east to spot Inishtrahull Island or, if you’re lucky, Scotland.
Perhaps also pause at the town of Carndonagh, home to the impressive High Cross of St Patrick. The cross, which is thought to date from the 7th century, is considered one of the most important earlyChristian remains in all of Britain and Ireland.
For breath-taking views from the glistening waters of Loughs Foyle and Swilly to the clear outline of the entire peninsula, stop at the stone fort of Grianán of Aileach, dating back to 1700BC. The fort sits on a hilltop 250m above sea level is linked to the Tuatha de Danann, who invaded Ireland before the Celts. It is thought that Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick, visited the site in the 5th century and baptised the local chieftain here.
Continue to your accommodation for two evenings. Set in tranquil wooded grounds overlooking Lough Swilly at the northern tip of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way coastline, the surroundings are best described as idyllic.
The original house was built in the 1760s; in the 1800s it became the country residence of the Batt family, founders of the Belfast bank.