The Search for the Port of the Door
Not long after I moved back to this beautiful part of the world to concentrate on my writing, I heard about the natural opening in the cliff face along the coast from Shroove. I searched two different areas at looking for it but it eluded me until I had a chat with local artist, Brian Scampton, who kindly drew me a map. Like many of our hidden gems in Ireland, there are no actual signs to pinpoint where it is but, armed with my hand-drawn map, rucksack, bottle of water, binoculars and camera , off I went.
At the fork in the road leading to Inishowen Head Loop walk, I came across this signpost.
Right beside it is a turnstile which I walked through, following Brian’s map. One tip for visitors to any part of Ireland…never be shy asking one of the locals for help…people are usually delighted to guide you on your way!
This brought me into a wide open field full of sheep and bouncing spring lambs. There is a well-worn, clearly defined path to the first beach running tightly along the right side of the field to the first beach but, as would be expected in lambing season, no dogs are allowed. And of course, it is important to respect the landowner and not simply wander through the field itself.
It was the first time I was actually walking in a field full of sheep and lambs. Many a time I have enjoyed seeing them as I passed along the roadside either in a car, or walking, but now I was walking along the side of a huge field full of them. It took my breath away to see this wee lamb suckle from its mother.
Do Sheep Attack Humans?
The tranquillity was then disrupted for a bit as one of the ewes started to run towards me. For some reason, my mind started to race. “Sheep don’t attack humans, do they?” “Nah, I reassured myself”. “But, maybe they do during lambing season?” As the ewe continued to approach me I decided the best thing to do was create some distance, so I had an unplanned, panicked jog, for about 30 yards.
I know…spot the townie. You will surely understand that I was running for my life and have no photographs of the attack.
Stopping to catch my breath and calm down again, I continued along the grass worn path along the edges of the coast.
There was a little bit of gentle climbing upwards along the edge. It’s not a steep drop, just enough to make my heart flutter a little.
All along the way I passed bundles of heathers adorning rocks and cheerful patches of oxalis and celandine kept me company.
A Gorse for All Seasons
The vibrant yellow of the gorse bushes light up the landscape and my senses with the gentle aroma of coconut with just a hint of vanilla. This spectacular but prickly shrub has three different varieties which flower at different times of the year, hence the saying, “When gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”. With its romantic connotations, brides often picked some to include in their bridal bouquets.
Gorse (aileann as Gaeilge) , or whin in Donegal, was frequently used to thatch roofs and provided excellent fuel for cooking, and it is now a protective habitat for wildlife and our feathered friends.
Along a little further to a second turnstile on the path.
Wide, Open Space
Nothing to see in the distance only sky, ocean, the horizon and passing birds.
Nothing to hear except the sound of my footfalls and the sound of Atlantic waves gently crashing against the jagged rocks at the very edge of Ireland.
Greeting the fabulous Port-a-Doras which is the only way into Port-a-Doras beach, short of scaling the cliff face.
Hunching down through the entrance, which is about three feet wide, the first sight of the shingle beach.
Dancing Seaweed Gardens
Many of the rocks were covered in limpets and seaweed danced in lush seaweed gardens thriving in the cove.
Sculptures by Mother Nature Herself
The beach is decorated with the most amazing rock shapes, sculpted and polished smooth by the waves.
Looking out for Porpoises
I had heard that porpoises were spotted in the local waters that morning, so I stayed on the beach for almost an hour hoping to see them but no joy.
On my way back, I regularly stopped to scan the ocean just in case.
Still, no porpoises! But a marvellous day out filled with sunshine, ocean-scents and scenery.
According to Map My Walk, it is about 1.10 kilometres from the turnstile entrance to Port-a-Doras beach, and well worth it for the views along the way.
Passing through the venerable entrance from Port-a-Doras to the beach is simply breathtaking.
I didn’t meet another person on my way there or back.
It was just me, Port-a-Doras, the fringe of Ireland and the Atlantic. And, an over-enthusiastic guard-sheep.
Beir Bua Agus Beannacht,
Don’t miss enjoying Brian Scampton’s Art which you can see on his website and facebook page
I enjoyed this interesting storytelling about Yellow Gorse and Irish Mythology