Walks: By Ard Mhuire's Shore, Donegal
Ivy-clad trees, beech, oak, pines and laurel provide extra shelter. In season, the path is paved with pine needles and fir cones. Below the path, drops from overhanging trees make distinctive sand patterns in contrast to the wave-swept outer shore. Warning signs indicate that the strand is unsuitable for swimming and that the rocks and cliffs are dangerous. Visitors enter at their own risk, so take care.
A kissing gate leads to more open terrain above the cliffs. Boots are essential here.
In spring, daffodils grow among the heather, a mixture of garden and heath. Later, wild orchids thrive below the track. Look across to Trá Mór, a long strand on the Rosguill peninsula, beyond Carrigart. Above Downings, holiday houses dot the landscape. Strong waves roll in from Sheephaven Bay.
Rough tracks lead over the ridge top to Clonmass Bay and the Back Strand. In season, a refreshing dip would be apt, but remember that swimming is not permitted at the Ard Mhuire side of the peninsula.
Retrace your steps along the shoreline path back to the car park at the Friary. Looking down the Lackagh estuary, in the distance you will observe Doe Castle, the stronghold of the MacSweeney chieftains. The Office of Public Works restored the castle which is accessible on another road from Creeslough. Below the Friary, a short detour leads to the old harbour and pier. From there, Muckish silica sand for glass-making was exported to Lancashire during World War Two.
Back at the Friary, a café provides snacks. Allow a few hours for walking and enjoying maritime views. Take time to reflect on the Capuchin themes: integrity of creation, ecology and care for the natural environment, essential for enjoyable walking.
Tony Quinn is a founder member of the Irish Ramblers Club and Na Coisithe