Donegal Way, 10-day Walking Tour

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Detail

The Donegal Way follows two long distance walking routes: the Bluestack Way from Donegal Town to Ardara and Slí Cholmcille and one of the Bealach na Gaeltachta – The Ways of the Gaeltacht – a set of long distance walking routes covering most of Northwest Donegal. This is walking country – small villages, green roads and a stunning variety of scenery.

Donegal is the north west outpost of Ireland. Separated from the rest of the republic by the slimmest Northern Ireland Border and wrapped in an extensive Atlantic coastline. The county carries this sense of independence in its physical geography, its people and the stark beauty of the land. The area has survived the rigours of the Atlantic, poor quality farmland, immigration, isolation and is moving into the 21st century in its own right, as a place of tradition and culture, unsullied by mass tourism.

The walking route starts from Donegal town on The Bluestack Way, formed in 1999. It is 47km long to Ardara.

The route crosses the Bluestack Mountains, with peaks of 600m but the Way rarely climbs above 250m. The Bluestacks are wild, rough and absolutely stunning! You will follow Slí Cholmcille in the south west corner of the county to Kilcar. You will see the wonderful indented coastlines, blanket bogland, and innumerable streams, rivers and lakes, glens and moors.

Approximately 30% of this route is on tarred roads.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • Bed and Breakfast in comfortable, friendly, locally-run Guest Houses
  • Daily Luggage Transfers
  • Detailed Route Notes, Maps & GPX Tracks
  • 24/7 Support Line
  • Where to Eat & Regional Reading List
  • Packing List, Travel Advice & more!

Optional Extras

  • Airport Transfers
  • Day Trips & Excursions
  • Extended or Customised Itineraries

Pricing

  • Per Person Sharing Room €945
  • Single Supplement €315

Tour Highlights

This 10-day tour begins in historic Donegal Town and winds through the Bluestack Mountains to the wild Atlantic Coast ending with the historic settlement at Glencolumbkille and the towering Slieve League sea-cliffs.

  • Stunning Slieve League Cliffs & Bluestack Mountains
  • Lovely accommodations & Gaelic speaking villages
  • Pre-Christian graveyard of Disert with holy well dedicated to St Colmcille
  • Tranquil walks along rivers, lakes and boglands
  • Quaint town of Ardara, voted “best village to live in Ireland”
  • Maghera Strand, a secluded beach renowned for its golden sands & sea stacks
  • More time to explore the Slieve League Cliffs & Glencolumbkille

Difficulty Level

This tour is rated MODERATE.

See how we determine levels of difficulty for each of our hiking tours by visiting our FAQ page.

  • Relaxed: 12-18km (8-11mi), 3-4hrs
  • Moderate: 16-23km (10-14mi), 4-7hrs
  • Strenuous: 22-30km (14-19mi), 5-9hrs

Itinerary

Day 1 – Travel to Donegal Town

On the north eastern shore of Donegal Bay, Donegal is a lovely traditional town. Your guesthouse is situated 2km from the town at the start of the Bluestack Way. Dinner is available in your guesthouse or in Donegal town.

Day 2 – Donegal to Lough Eske

The Way follows the western shore of the lake and woodlands before climbing the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains. There are beautiful views from the Banagher saddle of Lough Eske and the mountains ahead. Follow the Eglish river valley through the drumlins of south Donegal to the deserted townlands. Your hosts will transfer you from the end of the walk back to your guesthouse.

Distance 24km (15mi). Ascents 440m (1,444ft). Approximate walking time 7 hours.

Overnight accommodation Donegal town.

Day 3 – Bluestack Mountains to Glenties

Your hosts will transfer you to where the walk finished yesterday. Hike to Glenties over the pass at Cloghmeen Hill through blanket bogland. Today’s walk is through more of the lowland settlements, past the pre Christian graveyard of Disert. Traverse the mountain of Luaghnabrogue to follow through the solitude of the Owenroe River to the sheep farming country south of Glenties.

Distance 16km (10mi). Ascents 370m (1,214ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.

Optional extra route to Lough Anna, add 5km (3mi).

Overnight accommodation in Glenties.

Day 4 – Free Day in Glenties

Free day to walk in the Glenties area. Walk through lanes and boglands to the beautiful Lough Naeroaghy on the little drumlin of Derkbeg 330m. Enjoy fabulous views of the Gweebarra Bay and west to the Atlantic.

Distance 14km (9mi). Ascents 130m (427ft). Approximate walking time 4 hours.

Overnight accommodation in Glenties.

Day 5 – Glenties to Ardara

Follow The Bluestack Way and the Owenea River to Ardara. Today’s walk follows the fishing access route to the Owenrea River on gorse lined paths with the Atlantic ahead and the mountains behind. It’s a relatively easy day’s walking and allows plenty of time to enjoy the lovely town of Ardara.

Distance 12km (7mi). Ascents 80m (262ft). Approximate walking time 4 hours.

Overnight accommodation in Ardara.

Day 6 – Ardara to Glencolumbkille

Transfer by taxi to Maghera Strand. Follow the Slí Cholmcille along the foothills of the Slieve Tooey and Crockuna mountains to Glencolumkille. Climb by road to the top of the Owenree River valley to look down on Loughros Beg Bay, Maghera Strand and east to Ardara. The Way crosses a mountain pass at 350m to descend by road through sheep farming foothills to the gloriously remote cove of Port. Your final climb of the day takes you up Faugher Mountain to descend to the village of Glencolumbkille. This remote and beautiful corner of Donegal is also a Gaelic speaking area and has many interesting megalithic and early Christian monuments.

Distance 20km (12mi). Ascents 630m (2,067ft). Approximate walking time 7 hours.

Overnight accommodation in Glencolumbkille.

Day 7 – Free Day Glencolumbkille

Rest day in Glencolumbkille to enjoy this fascinating corner of Ireland with its many cultural and historical aspects. There have been inhabitants here since 3000BC. The optional walk offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic cliffs at Glen Head and Mullaghtan before the knife edge ridge of Sturrall promontory.

Distance 12km (7mi). Ascents 320m (1,050ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.

Overnight accommodation in Glencolumbkille.

Day 8 – Slí Colmcille to Carrick

Follow the Slí Colmcille to Cashel via Cornadreeshark and Crockunna hills. The route follows blanket bogland and traditional cart tracks, crossing over a mountain to reach Carrick and Teelin, home to the famous Slieve League Cliffs.

Distance 13-14km (8-9mi). Ascents 310m (1,017ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.

Overnight accommodation in Carrick.

Day 9 - Slieve League Cliffs

Your host will assist you with a transfer to Teelin to explore the Slieve League Cliffs. The cliffs are exhilarating, hair-raising and not for the faint hearted! Rising 600m from the Atlantic, they have an amazing diversity of colour and shape, as they are composed of numerous different geological types (conglomerates, schists, quartzite and some slate).

Several options are available, from short easy walks using shuttles to more challenging paths.

Overnight accommodation in Carrick.

Day 10 - Depart from Carrick

Depart by scheduled bus services from Carrick to Donegal for onward connections.

Map

REVIEWS

April 2024 — Clare & Eric, United States

My husband and I loved our Donegal Way tour with Tailor-Made! They adapted the tour so that we could spend 12 days, alternating hiking with rest and exploration days. It was flawless. Routes notes were easy to understand and full of useful details, our B&B hosts were wonderful and actually the highlight of our trip! Food was easy to find, transfers were all taken care of, and transportation advice for the first and last day were spot on. While the hiking was challenging, the views and the experience were incredibly rewarding. Would recommend this tour and company to anyone wanting a walking holiday in Ireland!

 

August 2019 – Anje, Cologne Germany
It is going great…. I really enjoy my holiday, the B&Bs have all been good, I always felt very welcomed by the owners. Now the rain has stopped and the view is great over the bay and all the way to Sligo!
Thanks a lot for organizing this tour!

 

August 2019 – Frank & 3 friends, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The whole tour was wonderful and that we enjoyed it very much. The weather was nice, we had some rain every day, but also a lot of sunshine! We had an excellent holiday. As indicated in the description the route is marked very well, so that didn’t give us any difficulties. The information you provided us with was (as always) very good. Thank you.

Price
From€945

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