Thursday, September 5, 2013

Aleria's Jaunt to Scotland: 29 July 2013, Teelin, on Donegal Bay

Teelin harbour surrounded by lovely hills and homes

Harbour of refuge and the parking lot at the edge of the world

Leaving Gola via the South Sound
We left Gola early through the South Sound. The wind was to go westerly but it was southerly. And of course we wanted to go south all the way to Mayo.  We sailed southeast past Arranmore where we had stopped on the way up, then had to start motoring.  We were not looking forward to 10 hours of motoring while bashing into the wind.

Our goal was to cross Donegal Bay, a wide expanse of water where one shore is not visible from the other. But first we had to sail down the coast of Donegal. The Atlantic can be mighty unforgiving here. It bounces into tall cliffs and bounces back out to cross itself. And it was just awful out there. Bash bash bash. Bash Bash bash. Hour after hour. After a while it got really tedious.

Cardinal mark for Gola spit
But I'll bet the surfers were out  that day. This area is one of the world's great surfing spots these days. There's one spot offshore where the surfers go out on jet ski to reach a shelf where the perfect waves can be found. They keep it a secret so it doesn't get crowded. Right!

The seas were nasty and we were still bashing as we passed Rossan Point. Stop! I’d had enough. We decided to pull into Teelin (Teileann) just a few inlets short of Killybegs on the north shore of Donegal Bay. We were hoping Teelin would be okay with a southerly as it had a SE entrance. And it was. Just. As we entered the harbour, everything quieted down and we were happy.  If the forecast was right, we’d have a good sail the next day from Teelin straight to Mayo across Donegal Bay.

Donegal Bay is Ireland's largest Bay, and it's northern shore has Ulster's highest sea cliffs at Slieve League (Sliabh Liag). They tower almost 2000 feet above sea level. We passed under these cliffs on our way to Teelin. What was that?  A castle perched on the edge of a promontory. No, not that. The other thing that looks like cars parked on the cliff face. It IS cars parked along the cliff. There's a parking lot or a road with cars parked right at the edge. No barriers. No fencing. Just Atlantic straight down below. I hope they have really good brakes. Much more impressive than the Cliffs of Moher. We weren't sure we would want to go there to see from the top.

Rossan Point
We anchored beyond the mooring field with plenty of room, but we were the only boat. There was a rib on one of the moorings and lots of fishing boats in two separate harbours on either side of the little bay. Clearly they must get a lot of swell here to have protective piers on both sides.  There is a fish factory, very clean looking facility, to port with a large pier.  It’s a delightful little hole with lots of nice and big homes all around, some look like NAMA holdings.  There is a large hill behind the bay which looks like it could produce katabatic winds.  Today all was fine.
Approaching Donegal Bay

Interestingly, Teelin was one of the first towns to appear on maps of Ireland as its harbour was essential to the coastwise travel. Back in those days, it was easier to travel by sea than by land.  Hence St. Columba's string of monastic settlements was a brilliant idea.

Our stop was uneventful as there appeared to be little reason for shore leave here. We watched the powerboats race by towards Killybegs in the evening. It’s the annual race around Ireland. Their next stop is to be Mayo Sailing Club in Clew Bay on the morrow.  They must have had a rough ride today.  Oh well, we were glad it wasn’t us bashing out there. 

Lighthouse at Rossan Point

The cliffs at Slieve League with cars parked along the edge

Castle perched on the cliff 

Approaching Teelin

The moorings at Teelin

Small boat harbour

Lovely mountain valley

The entrance to the harbour

The fish plant and pier

Video interview with the Queen of Teelin
(opens in YouTube)

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