County Donegal

After a very comfortable night and hearty breakfast at the Ramada Hotel in Portrush, we took an early morning stroll to admire the scenery before continuing on our circuitous journey of Ireland. The small seaside resort town was quiet this time of year, the snow-capped mountains confirming the advent of winter.

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A panoramic ten minute drive

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delivered us to Portstewart. Founded in 1792, this fishing village became a popular holiday destination for middle-class Victorian families. The two miles of golden sandy beach are still popular

4.Portstewart

and waterside homes have a stunning backdrop.

5.Portstewart

The spectacular Derryveagh Mountains accompanied us on our route through County Donegal,

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until we met the coast again at Ardara. The beautiful beaches, perfect for swimming, were serenely deserted.

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To the east, the Blue Stack Mountains loomed out of the mist.

11.Blue Stack Mountains

We stayed the night at the Holyrood Hotel in Bundoran, the tourist season was obviously, well and truly over.

Aonach Mor

After a wander along the main street of Fort William, we drove to Aonach Mor to experience the Nevis Range. The 2.3km gondola ride up the north face of the mountain was exhilarating.

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650 metres up, the ski lifts were still slumbering

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but the light snow gave a hint of things to come.

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The heavy cloud promised more snowfalls and the shafts of sunlight painted beautiful hues through the Great Glen.

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We enjoyed a hot chocolate to warm up at the café and, fortunately, it was after 12 o’clock so we added a Drambuie chaser to fortify us for the trip down the mountain.

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The cloud had lifted a little and the scenery was spectacular. The Great Glen follows a 100km geological fault from Inverness to Fort William, bisecting the Scottish Highlands into the Grampian Mountains to the southeast and the Northwest Highlands.

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We returned to terra firma and continued on our northward journey.

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Farewell Benabbio

The time had come to leave Benabbio. There were many things I would miss, the tranquility and beauty not least. I never tired of the mountains that surrounded us

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and the mesmerising mist that awaited when I opened the bedroom shutters in the morning.

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No matter where we wandered in the village, the mountains followed us.

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We were sad to say goodbye to beautiful Benabbio and our new found friends

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but there were more adventures awaiting us.