ONE DAY IN GLENVEAGH
On a windy summer’s day I headed out to Glenveagh National Park in Co. Donegal Ireland. It’s located in the far reaches of the north of Ireland and west of Northern Ireland, and I noticed quickly that it isn’t a typical stop on many itineraries. I assume it must be on the route for tour groups circling the country because I did notice some groups of older travelers. Not many people my age or younger, which is fine because I got to spend a few days enjoying my alone time.
I chose to add this area as a stop on my own trip for two reasons, Glenveagh National Park and the sea cliffs at Slieve League. These are not the famed Cliffs of Moher. Slieve League is bigger, less crowed, and worth going out of your way for a visit. Enough about the cliffs that will be thoroughly discussed in another post, I’m here to talk about Glenveagh.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the less hype surrounding a place, destination, or tourist stop, the more memorable my visit. Travel is all about managing expectations, and I am at my best when I am ignorant and haven’t had time to thoroughly build up my expectations. I arrived at Glenveagh with three hours to kill, and I left wishing I had at least two days.
The area is a huge wildlife refuge, with a lake and castle as its center. Since the expansive property was privately owned prior to becoming a National Park, there is a restored castle and gardens that are open for exploration. This is where most of my time was spent. Architecture, interior design, an interesting and dark history, plus beautiful natural surroundings...what more could a girl want? There is a tour offered through the castle and a tea house/visitor centre where I grabbed a quick tour and bite before heading off to my own devices.
The location of the castle on the lake and the surrounding gardens is the definition of picturesque. I spent awhile trying and failing to capture a perfect photo to remember my visit. I found it amusing that there is even a heated (by burning turf and lots of it!) infinity pool built back in the day. I would venture to guess it was one of the first. After marveling at the pool, I thoroughly walked all of the formal gardens. There were trails and paths that I wasn’t able to explore due to lack of time. This is a place where you can and should linger.
There is a quiet and calm in Glenveagh and if you sit still long enough it makes its way into your mind. I’m always amazed at how refreshed I feel after a few hours surrounded by beauty, similar to when I practice yoga. I’m sure a day spent walking the trails throughout the park would have given a similar experience, and maybe even a few animal sightings. Maybe next time.
I spent my last precious minutes, sitting on a bench in the garden chatting to the gardener. Which by the way wouldn’t have happened if I wasn't visiting solo. It was just another perfect day in Ireland.