Explore Ireland’s hidden treasures along the Wild Atlantic Way on this unique 8 day guided tour in Donegal.
A unique Irish experience; this tour will excite & inspire you with it’s majestic mountains, terrific coastlines, astounding sunsets & picturesque landscapes. A location where sometimes, the Northern Lights can be seen from!
The Irish language is spoke in some of the regions on this tour, making it a terrific Irish adventure.
Expert Guide on tour for the tour duration.
7 nights stay, 6 days hiking
Moderate Walks each day – Previous Hiking experience required
Geographically speaking, Donegal is a county of contradictions: it contains the northernmost point in the whole of Ireland – Malin Head on the remote Inishowen Peninsula and yet it is in ‘the South’ (Republic of Ireland). It is in Ulster (i.e. the nine-county province), but not in Northern Ireland. The county is very sparsely populated, with large tracts of land being uninhabited and a good deal of the open land is covered by blanket bogs. It is a perfect place to explore on foot or by bike & outside the main towns, the county is still relatively undiscovered & untouched.
The north-western tip of Donegal, around Bloody Foreland, is known for the interplay of light and water. The rocks are given a magical pink or reddish hue when sunlight falls on them, particularly at sunset, and this is particularly noticeable on the cone of Errigal, Donegal’s highest peak. Donegal Irish is spoken in the districts of the Rosses and Gweedore, this being one of the strongest Gaeltacht areas in the country. The Gaeltacht village of Glencolumbcille gets its name from St. Columbcille (Latin: Columba) who retreated there in the 5th Century. It has one of the best-preserved groupings of Early Christian pillar stones, spread over the valley. This ‘turas’ or pilgrimage is still held every year on June 9th, the feast day of St. Columbcille.
Donegal has some of the finest cliff scenery in Ireland, the most famous being the cliffs of Slieve League, a mountain of 595m which drops almost sheer into the sea. These cliffs stretch for 3 miles and can be best viewed from Bunglass near Teelin. A spectacular walk from here leads to the summit of Slieve League, passing over the cliff-tops and crossing the famous ‘One Man’s Pass’.
Situated just 5kms off the coast of Donegal, Arranmore or Aran Island has been inhabited since prehistoric times and it’s likely to have been one of Donegal’s first coastal population centres. Archaeological sites on the island have been dated to the Early Iron Age (800 BC) and the island was also home to a number of Gaelic chieftains. Many of the Gaelic traditions practised by these families are still alive on Arranmore today.
Tory Island is one of Donegal’s more famous islands, mythical home of the Fomorians, lying 12 kms north of Bloody Foreland, and still has its own “King”. Gola is another of Donegal’s beautiful islands & a walker’s paradise – just off the coast of Bunbeg. The cliffs of Horn Head near Dunfanaghy also deserve a visit – all of this just outlining some of the wonderful places to visit as part of your trip
Any boat trips, personal drinks, entrance fees to theatres, parks or museums etc., medical expenses or gratuities.
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Arrive for overnight at your first guesthouse at Ardara. Evening meal together and a general chat about the coming week’s hikes.
Your guide will meet you there at 18.00 hrs for a Briefing Session followed by dinner with the group at 19.00 hrs.
Walk Details – Distance: 12kms. Duration: 4½ hours. Max. Height: 300m. Grass tracks and open mountain with rocky sections and no tracks. Some road walking. Boots essential.
A short transfer (with your luggage) takes you to the start of your walk just outside Ardara. From there you follow a route over the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains, one of the last true wilderness regions of Ireland with picturesque views of lakes, sea and unspoilt countryside to finish in the village of Glenties. Transfer to the region known as Gweedore for dinner and overnight.
Walk Details – Distance: 15kms. Duration: 4 hours. Max. Height: 245m. Grass tracks and open mountain with rocky sections and no tracks. Some road walking. Boots essential
Driving a short distance from Bunbeg, you arrive to Glenveagh National Park – a hidden gem in the heart of Donegal on the shores of Lough Beagh. This idyllic place is home to Glenveagh Castle – a remarkable place with an inspiring history. Your hike takes you along the shores to the Castle, before continuing over the hills to finish in nearby Churchill. Return to your guesthouse in Bunbeg for an evening at your leisure and your overnight.
Walk Details – Distance: 14kms. Max. Height: 300m. Grass tracks and open mountain tracks with rocky sections. Some road walking. Boots essential.
Alternatively, weather dependent, you may have the option to visit Tory Island.
Today, from the village of Dunlewy you climb Errigal, Donegal’s highest and best known peak. If the day is fine, you will have views southwards towards Slieve Snaght and the brooding depths of the Poisoned Glen, while to the North you will look out over a watery plain towards Bloody Foreland and Tory Island beyond. Return to accommodation for dinner and overnight.
Walk Details – Distance: 8kms. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 751m. Stony tracks and open mountain with rocky sections and no tracks. Some road walking. Boots essential.
Your last day’s hike is on the promontory of Horn Head near Dunfanaghy. This spectacular headland offers some fine cliff scenery and views across the wild waters of Sheep Haven Bay to the Rosguill and Fanad Peninsulas. Transfer back to accommodation for overnight and evening dinner.
Walk Details – Distance: 15kms. Duration: 4½ hours. Max. Height: 250m. Grassy tracks and open moorland with rocky sections and no tracks. Some road walking. Boots essential.
Departure after breakfast, transfer to Letterkenny bus station for onward connection to Derry, Donegal, Dublin and to all major towns and airports in Ireland.
Recommended reading: ‘No News at Throat Lake’ by Laurence Donegan. ‘Donegal Highlands’ by Liam Ronayne and Pat Cowley. ‘Hillwalker’s Donegal’ by David Herman.