Looking out across to Tory from Errigal’s summit, and having a life long fascination with islands and all things coastal, I made it my business to get out there as soon as I could. Luckily my friend was just as eager and so on my latest North West adventure the stars aligned, the sea was calm, the ferry was crossing and we had a few days spare to get out and explore!
Arriving at Magheroarty for the shorter ferry (there is another ferry from Bunbeg but this can take up to 2 hours, and remember it is the North West Atlantic you are crossing not the Mediterranean!), the first person I met was the priest of the island, Fr. Kieran, who straightaway told me that Tory was the best island in the world to live!! Expectations are now quite high…
Tory is quite small (approx. 5km long and 1km wide) and although it is possible to hire bikes to get around, as the weather looked pretty good we decided to explore on foot, which was perfectly manageable. We arrived on the island at about midday and the ferry must have been a little early as we were at the top of the Pier by the time the King of Tory, Patsy Dan zoomed down in his car to greet us and to give us an overview of the islands activities for the night, emphasising that we would be more than welcome to join the locals for a get together in the social club that evening.
Deciding to head towards the east end, we took the high road and relished the view south – towards Arranmore island, Bloody Foreland, the Derryveagh mountains, Horn Head and finally, Malin Head jutting out in the distance (it’s not often we get to look south to Donegal!).
Incredibly, nature has created the island in such a way that the northern side is a collection of terrifyingly vertical cliffs and sea stacks, with the island then gently rolling down to sea level on the southern side. It is on the Eastern end of the island that this is most obvious and on our visit it made for a total sun trap; getting shelter and sun all day long! (I am sure it is a little different in the winter!)
Making our way back to West town, which is where the ferry lands, we continued out towards the lighthouse, taking in the sheer size of this guiding light, the walls of which are up to 2 metres thick!
To end our day, we ate and drank in the islands only hotel and followed the crowd up to the Social Club, where, for me the highlight of the night was dancing with the locals to “The Hills of Donegal”!
Verdict – As the boat departed the mainland, we could feel a sense of relaxation come over us. Tory may be surrounded by some of the most awesome scenery, but the natural warmth and welcome of the islanders will really have you falling in love with this little get away ;0)
For more north-west island adventures, read on here: