Introducing Malin Head
Even if you've already seen Ireland's southernmost point and its westernmost point, you'll still be impressed when you clap your eyes on Malin Head, the island's northern extent. The head's rocky, weather-battered slopes feel like they're being dragged unwillingly into the sea. It's great for wandering on foot, absorbing the stark natural setting and pondering deep subjects as the wind tries to blow the clothes off your back. Bring cash with you, as there are no ATMs here.
On the northernmost tip, called Banba's Crown, stands a cumbersome cliff-top tower that was built in 1805 by the British admiralty and later used as a Lloyds signal station. Around it are unattractive concrete huts that were used by the Irish army in WWII as lookout posts. To the west from the fort-side car park, a path leads to Hell's Hole, a chasm where the incoming waters crash against the rocky formations. To the east a longer headland walk leads to the Wee House of Malin, a hermit's cave in the cliff face.
Several endangered bird species thrive here, and this is one of the few places in Ireland where you can still hear the call of the endangered corncrake in summer. Other birds to look out for are choughs, snow buntings and puffins.
The Plantation village of Malin, on Trawbreaga Bay, 14km southeast of Malin Head, has a pretty movie-set quality. Walkers can head out from the tidy village green on a circular route that takes in Knockamany Bens, a local hill with terrific views, as well as Lagg Presbyterian Church (3km northwest from Malin), the oldest church still in use on the peninsula. The massive sand dunes at Five Fingers Strand, another 1km beyond the church, are a dog's dream.