It’s the most wonderful time of year in Inishowen, as the change of season, from Autumns rustic colours, to Winters frosty touch reveal a beautiful landscape in transition. Wrapping up in your winter warmers, an area that you can embrace clean crisp air and Winter sun is the beautiful and peaceful Swan Park.
Harry Percival Swan & Swan Park
Swan Park, is located on the outer edges of the seaside town of Buncrana. Buncrana, which aptly translates to “Foot of the Crana (River)” is located at the mouth of the Crana River on the east bank of Lough Swilly, see above. During your walk you will learn that the park was later donated to the people of Buncrana and its visitors in 1965,by the late Harry Percival Swan (see below) an Historian, Author and Collector.
A Walk To Remember Along The Crana River
At Swan Park, there is a walking route, approximately a quarter of a Mile which will take you along the tranquil and at times turbulent Crana river. At points you can see why sections of the river are often used by white water rafting enthusiasts in the Winter months. On approach to the park you will be greeted by the impressive Castle Bridge, pictured below, located at the South Western entrance to the park. From this impressive six-arched stone structure, you can view the mouth of Lough Swilly to the left and Crana river to the right.
History In Stone At O’Doherty’s Keep Buncrana
You will discover many hidden gems along this route which include the locally named Buncrana Castle (pictured below), currently a privately-owned manor house, built in 1718 by Colonel George Vaughan.
Next you will face an impressive ‘Keep’ that towers triumphantly among the trees. The Keep, known locally as O’Dohertys Keep, pictured below, was once a stronghold of the powerful Gaelic Lords of the O’Dochertaigh Clan in Inishowen during the 15th century. It was used for defense and security as part of a larger network of castles in Inishowen at that time. Excavations suggest that it may be the remains of a 13th century Norman castle. Overall this impressive structure hints at the once turbulent past of this historic landscape.
From this point you will be guided by a paved path, see below, which follows the twists and turns of the river to Wilson’s Bridge on its North Eastern extremity.
Fairy Doors And Wildlife At Swan Park
Along the trail you will be greeted by the sight of majestic trees, young and old, that have been touched with a sense of fun and childish wonder as you encounter “Fairy Doors”, see below, that have been carefully placed on trees throughout the park.
Stone seating, in keeping with the landscape, are present at intervals along the walk which encourage you to stop and take in the scenery. In this idyllic and peaceful setting, you will also find that you are sharing your walk with all manner of wildlife, see below for my encounter with a hungry Heron.
Among the most common creatures you may encounter include; petite birds like a wren and Little Tree Creeper; a small bird that climbs through trees in search of insects. Visitors and locals have also spotted otters in the tidal reaches of the Castle Bridge. With this in mind you will find that a walk in Swan Park, is full of little surprises.