SELF GUIDED TOUR
The perfect way for the independent explorer to see our hidden gems & discover the many routes less travelled.
7 nights stay, 6 days cycles
Participants need to have a good level of fitness and previous cycling experience is recommended.
“Service is the best in the market, personal service. Would never go to Ireland without their advice and help.”
– Lou & Helen, USA, 2014
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 and grazing country covered by blanket bogs.
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 Gael-tacht 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 pil-lar stones, spread over the valley. These are located at the 13 stations of the ‘turas’ or pilgrimage, 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 notorious arete called ‘One Man’s Pass’. The cliffs of Horn Head near Dunfanaghy are also well worth a visit. From here you will glimpse Tory Island, mythical home of the Fomorians, lying 12 kms north of Bloody Foreland.
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Upon your arrival in Donegal we will meet you and bring you to your accommodation. Here we will fit you out with your bike and give you the notes and maps that you will need for your tour. Depending on your time of arrival, you might like to explore the town or go for a short cycle. Donegal Town is steeped in history, with its imposing castle and ruined abbey. It also has a great selection of lively pubs and cafés.
Cycle west along Donegal Bay. The smell of the sea will soon be all around, as you pass quiet bays and inlets. Cycle along the narrow Peninsula of St John’s Point, where you will have the Atlantic Ocean on both your left and right. View the remains of Rahan Castle and the Killaghtee Cross. Continue to your overnight destination in the bustling fishing village of Killybegs.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 39kms/ 24mi.
Your bike tour now takes you west from Killybegs. Here the scenery becomes ever more dramatic. Towering cliffs, golden sandy beaches and rocky headlands create a magnificent panorama. Visit the cliffs at Slieve League – one of Ireland’s greatest attractions. In the evening make your way to the valley of Glencolmcille. Ancient history, the thriving Gaelic culture, vibrant traditional music and the wonderful natural beauty form a truly unique location for your overnight stop.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 47km /29mi.
Today the remoteness of the landscape dominates. You can visit the deserted fishing hamlet of Port before continuing cycling through one of the most sparsely populated areas in Ireland. Descend through dramatic Granny Valley to Maghera where a pristine beach, a series of caves, and dramatic Assarancagh Waterfall await. Cycle on to the heritage town of Ardara. Your overnight stop is in the pretty village of Glenties.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 40km /25mi.
The early part of today’s cycle allows you to experience the unique splendor of Ireland’s blanket bogs. Heathers, mosses, lichens and rough grasses create an artist’s dream landscape. Further on you have the chance to visit one of the many inhabited islands off the Donegal Coast. Arranmore is a 20 minute ferry trip from Burtonport. The trip itself makes the journey worthwhile. Spend some time exploring the island before making your way back to the mainland. Cycle through the unique lake and boglands typical of this area to your overnight destination in the seaside village of Annagry.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 45km /28mi.
The unique beauty of the Donegal Highlands is all around during today’s cycle. Pass beneath the peak of majestic Mount Errigal. Further along is the hauntingly beautiful Poisoned Glen. Your cycling tour then takes you to Glenveagh National Park. Red deer and golden eagles live here, among the pristine lakes and mountains. Continue your cycle east, taking you to the shore of Lough Gartan. Follow the edge of the lake to your overnight destination in the quiet valley of Glendowan.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 37km /29mi.
As you leave Glendowan you gradually climb along the southern edge of Glenveagh National Park. From there descend along a beautiful quiet valley, with the Glendowan Mountains on your left and Slieve Snacht on your right. You’ll need no reminding here why bike tours in Ireland are simply the best way to see the country! Cycle on to Fintown lake and village, where a restored vintage railway runs along the lake shore. Then it’s back once again to Glenties.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 44km /27mi.
The final day of your bike adventures brings you back to your starting point in Donegal Town. If you have early transport connections back home, you will probably want to go straight to Donegal. If time allows, you can also cycle around tranquil Lough Eske. From here it’s time to depart, taking with you treasured memories of the natural wonders and friendly people of Donegal. If you would like to spend an extra night in Donegal Town before you leave, we will gladly arrange this for you.
Today’s Cycle Distance: 30km /19mi.