Foggy drive to Enniskillen
Sorry I couldn't get my computer to type yesterday, so this had a very odd little title. Anyway, got up before dawn yet again and got all the way down to Enniskillen
in just a few hours from Dunfanaghy. It was a freezing cold morning, but it ended up being great because it caused this huge blanket of fog to settle on the area which was amazing. You could just barely pick out the small houses down in the valley and lambs grazing in the fields. Driving up close to some cattle, I could even see their breath which I found amusing.
Enniskillen was a cute town, too bad the entire thing was completely closed down as it was a Sunday morning. I had thought at least one little restaurant or coffee shop would be open, but instead my breakfast ended up being milk, pasta salad, and gummy candy from a gas station.
I ate it by the closed castle which sits right on a pretty river. The castle itself is pretty tiny, so it took maybe two minutes to walk the perimeter. I assume the inside looked spectacular, but alas it apparently is never open at all on Sundays.
So I traveled along Lough Erne towards Ballyshannon. On the way, I saw a tiny little sign for Tully Castle so I thought I would check it out. It was farther down a winding road then I expected, but eventually I got there and put my lone car in the tiny little parking lot. For some reason I had an eery feeling as I walked up to the caretaker's house, probably because I realized it was just the caretaker and myself. He seemed a nice enough guy, but I got the feeling he doesn't get many people this time of year and he wanted me to stay awhile.
I however did not have a ton of time to kill as I had to be back in Dunfanaghy by 3 and had a few other stops to make along the way. He demanded I see the "museum" before I see the castle which mostly consisted of a few old pictures and long descriptions of the place. I really just wanted to come here because I thought I would get a better view of Lough Erne from here to take pictures, so I wasn't very interested in reading all the details. I waited what I thought would be enough time for the caretaker and walked up to the little castle ruins. There were sculpted bushes in front that were very pretty and the castle ruins weren't in as bad shape as I thought. It was two stories and you could actually climb up to the second story to see the view of the river from the window.
It was definitely worth the stop, but not a whole lot to see once you take in the view as it was a pretty small castle. I snuck out the back way so I wouldn't have to disappoint the caretaker with my need to get away and was back on the road again.
My next stop was Ballyshannon which was a picturesque little town on the river. It had a number of older brick buildings and I visited a really interesting looking church poised at the very top of a hill with a great view of the entire valley from it's graveyard. Church was just letting out, so I got some strange looks as people walked down the hill and I walked up.
I took the road that hugs the coast out close to the Slieve League cliffs. The drive was amazing as you could see for miles from the road out to the sea.
Not a very reassuring sign
But this road (if you can call it that) was so winding and narrow that the drive was taking much more time than I had, so I gave up and started driving north again. The drive back to Dunfanaghy was very unique with the incredibly green glens, small cottages, and tall stony hills scattered throughout.
Back in Dunfanaghy, I stopped at the stable and picked out my helmet and boots, as apparently these are required for English style riding. I was given a large horse named Neptune, who was a bit too complacent for my tastes. English riding is very close to Western, but the reins were much shorter and held slightly differently. I felt comfortable right away even though our first task was to ride across the highway and down a steep embankment on to the stand.
I was the only one besides the instructor on this ride which I liked. The tide was low, so the beach went for about half a mile out to the water. We rode across the soft white sands and occasional pools of water towards the edge of the strong waves. It had warmed up a bit by the afternoon, but still was a bit chilly and windy. After riding close to the water for awhile, we headed back up over some sand dunes spread with tall grass. My horse decided he was more interested in eating than in walking and I had to work hard to get him to keep moving. It was only an hour ride that I signed up for, but it felt like the perfect amount of time as it was so relaxing but stopped before it became too tiring. The beach was particularly amazing on horseback, I would definitely try this again anytime.
It was time to head back towards Belfast
, so I hopped onto the highway and drove back the same route I took this morning. Once I reached Letterkenny I started heading toward Antrim
where I thought I might spend the night. Before getting there, I stopped off at an old church on Lough Neagh. While the lake was pretty, it wasn't spectacular and the church was a bit disappointing as well. I didn't see anything in Antrim that I liked either for dinner or to sleep as everything appeared closed and it was much bigger than I had thought. Since I had to return the car in the morning, I tried to stay close to Belfast and drove up through Kells which also had nothing.
Riding on the beach
So I stopped in Ballymena
for something to eat. This city didn't seem very interesting at all, though apparently this is where Liam Neeson is from. I walked into a pub that had all these signs saying they served food until 9pm, only to find out the kitchen was closed for renovations. At this point, I had only Subway, Chinese takeout, or a hotel restaurant so I went into the hotel. After I finished eating, I realized I was too tired to keep searching, so ended up renting a room that was clearly overpriced for what I got. It also smelled musty, which seems to be an issue with a lot of the hotels I have been staying at. They advertised free wi-fi which I found out meant that they would print me an access code and I had to sit with my mini-laptop within a few feet of the main desk to get a signal. At least it includes breakfast!