The morning started off cloudy and misty. We had breakfast and I went down to see the B&B owners’ donkeys across the road. Two of them appeared through a building site, then as I took their photos, took off down the road. Christine alerted the owners and the gentleman set off in pursuit with a bag of their food. As we set off, he was returning with them.
We continued northward and enjoyed the scenery as it changed from a rugged, rocky, sheep grazing landscape to a more pastoral scene with cultivated field and sheep corralled in fields rather than roaming free, sometimes across the road. We rejoined the sea from time to time and stopped on the north coast at Dunfanaghy where we had a walk out to the pier which seemed to be permanently dry as we doubted if the tide would come in that far any longer. We strolled up the street and then took the car along to the edge of town where we could have a view of the sea as we ate our picnic.
This is the furthest north we will be in Ireland. It is somewhat ironic that this county, Donegal is the most northerly in the island known as Ireland, but it is part of Southern Ireland, while Northern Ireland starts some distance further south. We continued along the north coast before turning south where we got lost, not once, but twice, in a small town. This seems impossible as these towns are so small, but the signage is so poor that following them is just as dangerous as ignoring them. We also carry two maps as the spelling of the towns’ names are not consistent, and the Gaelic (or Irish) names are at times incomprehensible. We eventually drove into Northern Ireland and reached Londonderry, or just Derry, as it is commonly referred to here, a short distance over the border. We again ran into signage problems as there was a parking lot beside the Tourist Information Office which seemed the logical place to park. The sign indicating the parking was for disabled parking was partially hidden by overgrown foliage, and when we later examined it it was unclear the this was ONLY for the use disabled. Another sign painted on the road saying “Coaches Only” was almost worn away, and in any case was so far round that your vehicle was on top of it before it was readable. A bus followed us in and refused to move when we were trapped between a barrier we could not open and the bus. Nan was forced to maneuver her car as far as she could to the left to let him inch past so that she could then back out into the street.
As we drove further round the curve we saw the sign to the Tourist Information Parking - a bit late in our opinion. We parked, got the information we needed and went for a walk round part of the walls of Derry, reading some of the history as we went. We descended not the main street within the walls and walked its length and looked at the substantial Guildhall, then round to the car. It was interesting, but rather sad to see places that have become common names during the “troubles”, and we reflected that just a few short years ago we would not have dared walk the streets which we were now using. This was emphasized tonight when we learned that a young man from Londonderry, which we visited today had been shot in Donegal, which we visited yesterday, and taken to a hospital in Letterkenny which we drove through this afternoon. Fortunately such incidents are now newsworthy, where in the recent past they would have been so commonplace as to elicit little attention.
We tried to call some bed and breakfasts, but Nan could not get her phone to successfully complete the calls. Bear in mind that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, just like Scotland, but Southern Ireland or Eire, or Ireland is a separate country and her phone worked perfectly there. We decided to make a cold call on one we had selected. When we got there, we found no one was home. As Nan continued to try her phone, the owner turned up and said he regretted that they were not taking guests at the present, but offered to make calls for us. He found us a place and we headed for Limavady where we are now ensconced in a very comfortable farmhouse. We were scarcely in the door and had not had time to get our luggage before the landlady had us booked into a restaurant for dinner and organized our plans for tomorrow.
We went into Limavady and enjoyed a very good dinner at a very pleasant place which shared the name - Lime Tree - with the hotel we have used the last twice we have been in London. We then went for a walk round the main street and used an ATM to get some Sterling, after using Euros in the south.
We returned to the B&B and settled in for the night.