NORTHERN HEADLANDS TOURING
Expand your mind, body and soul in the mesmeric Northern Headlands region of the Wild Atlantic Way. Untouched, off-radar and crying out for exploration, this captivating and remote region, encompassing most of expansive County Donegal, marks the most north-western contour of the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s a secluded but incredibly diverse terrain. It’s no wonder Donegal was named the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet for 2017’ by National Geographic Traveller.
STAGE 1: DONEGAL TOWN TO SLIABH LIAG
(49KM VIA N56 AND R263)
Setting off from Donegal Town, Sliabh Liag is the tour’s first stop; it’s a 47-minute drive away, and home to some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. If you fancy experiencing panoramic views from its peak, walk the 2.8km up to bracing Pilgrim’s Path. Church ruins and a holy well on its eastern summit provide a glimpse into the ancient and colourful history of this mystical location. Alternatively, head out on water with Sliabh Liag Boat Trips – time of year and weather permitting, of course - for another perspective of these towering vistas. If you’re lucky, you may be joined by dolphins, whales, seals, and even basking sharks! You’ll have worked up an appetite by now, so stop by Tí Linn Café for a delicious homemade lunch.
STAGE 2: SLIABH LIAG TO MALIN BEG (16.9KM) TO GLENCOLMCILLE (14KM, BOTH VIA R263)
Your next destination is Glencolmcille, but be sure to make a stop-off en route at Malin Beg; just 25 minutes away. This secluded bay, visible from Silver Strand beach, is dramatised by surrounding horseshoe-shaped cliffs and is accessible only by some very steep steps! Take on the challenge to count the steps – a hefty 155 going down and 154 going up! Afterwards, a visit to nearby Glencolmcille Folk Village (open from Easter Weekend through October and on request thereafter) will offer a window into rural Irish life in the 18th and 19th centuries. You’ll find several small cottages, gorgeous beaches, an archaeology hub, tea house, craft demonstrations and a fascinating historical walk along the clifftops.
STAGE 3: GLENCOLMCILLE TO ARDARA
(26KM VIA R230)
As you drive towards the heritage town of Ardara (35 minutes away), stop to admire Malaidh Ghleann Gheis, a high pass with elevated views that are astounding in any light. The surrounding landscape is characterised by grassland for the most part, broken up only by idyllic, managed woodland. Back in the car, head to Ardara’s Donegal Design Makers, where you’ll meet local artists and craftspeople who’ll be happy to show you their creative wares. Finally, finish up the day with a tasty seafood dinner at a local restaurant. One iconic spot is Nancy’s Bar, a family-run local Ardara institution for over seven generations.
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Guided tours of Ireland