Plenty to visit on the northern coast


Great Roads: Malin Head DriveIn his last article of this Great Roads series, Bob Montgomerydrives around Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head

On Ireland's most northerly tip, Malin Head, there lies a road of many contrasts that brings you through the Inishowen Peninsula. Start on this tour of Malin Head from the pretty town of Malin, on Trawbreaga Bay, taking the R242 signposted for Lag and Malin Head.

At first, it's a pleasant road skirted by the seashore on your left, but after a couple of kilometres, it turns inland and the terrain quickly changes.

To the east of the road, Cranny Hill rises to 138 metres, while a short road to the left passes Lag Church in its unusual and solitary location and continues to Five-Fingers Beach, itself worthy of a short diversion.

Returning to the R242, a road marked with a brown "Inishowen 100" sign leads sharply up Knockglass Hill, Soldiers Hill and around a narrow, but totally adequate, coastal drive.

The views on this section of the drive are magnificent, looking across the entrance to Trawbreaga Bay towards Doagh Island (not actually an island) where a very large concentration of Megalithic remains are located in its eastern half.

All too soon, the road drops down again to nearer sea level and rejoins the R242 just before another turn close to the Coastal Radio Station with its high mast. Take this road and follow it to the small car park at the most westerly point of the road on Malin Head itself. The views from here to the west are, again, impressive.

Continue on to the most northerly point of the road, marked by a short road to a car park beside what appears to have once been a tower house-style dwelling.

Here are architectural relics of "The Emergency" when the battle for the north Atlantic was fought from the Northern Ireland side of nearby Lough Foyle. Also here is the word "Eire" spelt out in what were once white-washed stones as a sign to airmen that they were approaching the coastline of neutral Ireland.

Rejoining the road, we return to the R242 at the tiny village of Bulbinbeg and begin to head back towards the town of Malin once more. Before coming to the point where we left the R242 near Lag Church, the road travels once again through a surprisingly wide variation of landscape - a feature encountered again and again on our travels throughout Ireland. After Lag, the road once more runs alongside the sea shore and as we head in the opposite direction we can appreciate new aspects of the bay.

Our journey to Ireland's most northerly point marks the end of this series for this season, but we will return in March when we continue our exploration of Ireland's Great Roads.