Malin Head development plan submission

Malin Head Visitor Management consultation 10/12/2019  Feedback

1.       Banba’s Tower. This could swallow a lot of funding.  There is already a viewpoint which is more than adequate.  It could be a future project, but at this time the money could be better spent, and appropriate repairs would suffice.

2.       Trails. Land Ownership is fundamental, as you cannot do anything until you have the agreement of the landowner, and this can be withdrawn at any time due to an incident, dispute, or change of ownership.   Visitors come to Malin Head particularly from inland Europe, for the clifftop walk experience, and currently some of the best bits of the Malin coastline are closed,  Skildren Bay to the Devils Bridge, Breasty Bay, Knockmany Bens, and the coastal walk from the Wee House to Glengad (one of the half dozen best such walks in Ireland, and one which used to be recommended in the Blue Planet guide).   Use the funding to purchase the land (by CPO if necessary).  A 10m wide strip of the clifftop would suffice, and this should not prove much of a loss to the landowner (in fact they would be less likely to lose animals off the cliff, if properly fenced).

3.       Path Building.  Consult Mountaineering Ireland, who have access to experts in this field.  They will provide advice on an environmentally sympathetic path which will not get washed away during the first flood.  Learn from the Slieve League experience, where the path had to be redone at great expense.   Spending large amounts of money on H&S infrastructure will not enhance the wilderness experience, and not every path has to be wheelchair accessible, or be wide enough for an excavator and tractor to get past each other.

4.       Car Parking.  The ideal place for the main carpark would be just off the Malin Head loop, which is walking distance from the crown for most people.  Traffic access to the Crown could be on a quota basis (counters and a barrier) so that on quiet winters days visitors can drive up, (but not on a busy day, when they will be stopped at the main car park).

5.       Dunaldragh.  This is a great idea, that is the bridge to the island, Ireland’s most northerly point.  It would be a great attraction, but visitors should be contained in one protected area, for safety reasons and the protection of nesting seabirds.

I am a walker, climber and past president of Mountaineering Ireland (the national representative body for Mountaineers, hillwalkers, ramblers and leisure walkers) resident in Culdaff, and I use the Malin Head area both for walking the headlands, and rock climbing on the cliffs.  This year the Donegal Climbfest was run at Malin head, which brought about 150 visitors to the area for the Mayday bank holiday.   The potential of an iconic place like Malin as an outdoor recreation hub is immense, walkers, climbers, kayakers, fishermen, Basking shark spotting, coasteering etc  but the main problem is that of access.   A couple of years ago, I researched a coastal ‘way’ from the ferry at Buncrana around the North Inishowen coast (linking existing paths) to the ferry at Greencastle (the Inishowen Wildway). The idea was a link with the North Antrim Coastal path, but I was obliged to leave out Malin Head completely, due to the number of intractable access problems.  Great opportunities for the local community are there, if they can convince some crucial landowners to buy into a more accommodating attitude to visitors, and that there is something in it for them.

Alan Tees

Bunagee, Culdaff, Co Donegal

alanwtees@gmail.com

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