Grey, damp, lonely roads spattered by drizzle and swathed in cloud this morning, but I was happy. I was heading to the end of the End to End, at Malin Head, somewhere I’d only ever heard mentioned on the shipping forecast.
This horse was evidently trying to hitch-hike north (pic). The drivers were having none of it.
I headed up the peninsula (pic), to dramatic misty scenery on the moortop. Down into Carndonagh, which I kept seeing as ‘Creamdoughnut’ – I was clearly thinking of coffee and cake – but it wasn’t even 8am yet and nothing was open, so I carried on to Malin.
Around nine I was on my way again for the ten miles or so to Malin Head. There was a riverside, pleasant if damp scenery, lumpy coastal views, beaches, headlands (pic). I lurched up and over a hill for the last time and scooted down to the Head itself.
I didn’t feel emotional, as I did when I finished my British End to End at John o’Groats in 1997. Then, a group of ladies setting off the other way applauded me as I arrived, and I burst into tears.
This however felt like more like a job done, another day at the office, though a rather wet and windy office.
But I enjoyed the moment and took my time. I explored the head itself (pic). Somewhere out there are the Hebrides, then the Faroes, then I start to feel sea-sick.
I snacked at a picnic table with a feeling of satisfaction, and of the wind round my nether regions. There was a tower of impressive ugliness.
Well, that was it. The Irish End to End, Mizen Head to Malin Head: 665 miles, two punctures, no malfunctions except a major wardrobe one at the beginning, a birthday party, some islands, some music, and a good mix of convivial evenings with friends and relaxed evenings of solitude.
A very enjoyable, varied and sociable way to start my collection of International End to Ends.
As I like to sum it up, Total cost for fortnight including all transport, food, accommodation and emergency underwear: £520. Value: Priceless.
So… I retraced my steps back over the hills and headed south towards another country. The sun came out and the scenic road alongside Lough Foyle took me to Derry. The only clue as to the location of the border, at Muff, was the low-key sign advising you that speed limits were now in miles an hour. No Welcome to Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or Farewell Free Ireland.
I found a hostel in the centre of town and got out my pounds to spend in sterling again, grateful to be back to price levels I recognised. A Guinness in Wetherspoon’s was two quid, a beer’n’burger six. I strolled the walls and admired the murals, the Loyalist ones dark and strident, the Republican ones imaginative and eyecatching. The Republican areas were usually easy to recognise because the roads were decorated with broken glass.
Back at the hostel I researched my way back home to York, and dreamed of more world End to Ends to come…
Miles today to Mizen Head: 27
Miles Mizen Head to Malin Head: 665
Miles today total: 56
Miles since Mizen Head total: 704