And we did. It has become a tradition for us and always the best part of our trips to Ireland. We’ve hiked Mount Brandon, Diamond Hill, Great Blasket and others. When we decided to explore the north, the decision of what to climb was easy – Errigal Mountain. Its massive appearance, exceptional coloration from the quartzite, and the surrounding beauty of County Donegal make it one of the best reviewed hikes in Ireland.
Staying a week in a nearby, sleepy town called Ramelton, we had our pick of days to explore the area. We watched the news every night for a good weather report and finally selected what we thought would be a beautiful blue sky day to tackle Errigal.We arrived at the car park to find it packed with cars and people. We were a little disappointed, selfishly wanting the mountain to ourselves, but then we realized the group had already descended (talk about some early risers!). We exchanged a few hellos and made our way to what we thought should be the start of the climb. Another hiker left about the same time as us, but he set off to the right of the mountain.
Our start was slow going. The base of the mountain is bog land. We trudged through the sludge, hoping our shoes wouldn’t get stuck in the thick and muddy terrain. As soon I said don’t fall down, there was Joe on the ground with half his leg covered in mud. We were already tired, but the mountain was looming before us. We had to go on.
“Will this bog ever end?”
Every now and then, I would stop to take pictures (read: catch my breath), and take it all in. It might be possible that the only time I have ever really been able to appreciate the beauty of Ireland has been when I am most immersed in it. It was during these moments that I noticed the truly rugged and wild landscape that abounds in County Donegal. It has an untamed nature that if captured would surely break free.
We finally ascended our last steps to the top. We congratulated ourselves on another fine day’s climb by eating a few pieces of dark chocolate, which has become a tradition at every summit. Others were just below and we nodded and smiled as they joined us at the top. We decided we liked sharing the mountain after all.While ominous clouds were closing in we couldn’t help but stay a few minutes longer and chat with the man who set off to the right of the car park earlier that morning. He walked every Sunday rain or shine. The summits in Donegal’s Derryveagh Mountains were a part of his usual repertoire, and Errigal Mountain was his favorite. He informed us that there was another way to summit the mountain, which skirted the bog land. He showed us that walking past the car park around the stream that created the wetland, while longer, was a much easier walk. We tucked that nugget of information away for our next visit.
Raindrops cut short our stay on top, so we retraced our steps and started back down. Thoroughly soaked 45 minutes later, we reached the car park. We were grateful that we had packed an extra pair of dry shoes and socks in the car. While changing, we gazed back up at the mountain we had just climbed. Its magnificence even in the rain shone over the land and lakes below. We were beaming with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Joe’s declaration on our honeymoon to climb Ireland’s mountains provided the highlight of our trip once again.Infinite Ireland:
Ireland captured the hearts of Stephanie and Joe Chastain on their first trip in 2006. Infinite Ireland is a guide for first time visitors to Ireland. Follow along to learn their mistakes, secret tips and handy how to’s. Join us at InfiniteIreland.com, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook!