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Destination-Report Donegal, Ireland: Decelerating loneliness with celebrity factor {Review}

Nowhere can you relax and clear your mind better than in Donegal in the north of Ireland. This is also due to the incredible rain hikes that you can do here.

Ireland - Donegal

Picturesque north-west of Ireland

Dongeal on the north-western edge of the Irish Republic is one of the most remote and pristine regions in the country. Even before 10 years ago tourists avoided the region largely because of the proximity to Northern Ireland and the conflict there. Therefore, yours are still noticeably different.

For example, you can book a tour bus tour like the ones of Manganco Coach Tours and still have a great tourist experience, because the small bus only takes 15 people, but also runs along roads which are hardly accessible, to give the guests an extra view.

Or you can meet people like Marie, who want to take a spontaneous on a northern light watching tour. The people here have a great pleasure to show the beauties of the region.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Europe's highest sea cliff

Even the tourist magnet Slieve League, which stands as Europe's highest cliff, imposing 500 meters above the Atlantic, is still so tranquil to enjoy. Also here you can measure yourself in a four-hour hike with the forces of nature, but it has to pass partly on all fours, because the path is so narrow that you run the risk of being blown down.

Nearby, in the town of Kilcar, Sarah Jessica Parker has her summer residence. Also in Crolley, not far from the airport, there is a small celebrity sight with Leo's Tavern. Because the tavern belongs to the father of Enya and Clannad. Unfortunately, they no longer appear there, but you can admire numerous photos here.

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Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Glenveagh National Park

On the other hand, you can also meet celebrities from other tourist attractions: the Glenveleagh National Park and the associated Victorian castle. This has an exciting, if also young, story:

1857 - 1859 bought the land speculator John George Adair (1823 - 1885) several neighboring plots of land and formed from them Glenveagh. He sold 1861 tenants from the area to 244 for promising better livestock profits. 1867 he started building Glenveagh Castle. The castle was completed 1873.

After his death 1885 his Texan wife Cornelia took over the lands. She had the castle removed and landscaped and spent the summer here until 1916. After their death 1921 orphaned the plant and was seized during the Irish Civil War by troops from both sides. 1929 bought Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter the estate. After his death 1933, the castle was empty again until it was purchased by Henry McIlhenny 1937.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Like Greta Garbo and Sean Connery

Both Kingsley Porter and McIlhenny liked to welcome artists and celebrities in Glenveagh. There are pictures of AE Russel in the library. Yehudi Menuhin has stayed here several times, as have Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly or Sean Connery. McIlhenny had 1940 by Jim Russell remodel the garden and increase the variety of plants. Since the 70 years there is even a heated swimming pool. He sold 1975 the lands to the Office of Public Works for the National Park to be established. 1983 he then left the garden and the castle with most of the establishment of the National Park Administration. The National Park has been made accessible to the public 1984 and the castle 1986.

Probably due to its contrast between the romantic garden and the wild landscape of the village, Glenveleagh is today a tourist attraction, through which visiting groups in the half-hour act are welcomed. The castle can be reached either by bus or by e-bike, which the Communety Center Grassroutes.ie offers here at the parking lot. 100-150 hour kilometers create the eBikes with a charge and supposedly the eBikes can be even in the hotels at normal sockets.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

With the eBike on the road

Since the eBike rental companies are networked along the Wild Atlantic Way, it would theoretically even be possible to use eBikes to travel to the West Irish coast. Practically, however, this poses some organizational challenges for the vendors, as Mary McGrenra of Grassroutes tells me - eBiking is still in its infancy in Ireland, and as a rule you will also have to drive on the road, because many of the hiking trails are also in Glenveagh National Park not for biking.

Therefore, on this July day we limit ourselves to a very small tour - the 5 kilometers up to the castle and then to the end of the lake, where you can admire a picturesque waterfall. The bus tourists are left in this way soon behind, but the way soon becomes impassable. I leave the bike (it will be picked up later) and walk up the hill on the stony but wide path.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Hike your head empty

A tour that is also suitable for beginners and yet provides a feeling of absolute loneliness. Suddenly only the mountain and I are in an incredibly imposing but humane landscape and my only thought is whether I will really arrive.

Loneliness compels you to deal with the really essential and with your own fears. All the worries and problems appear so trivial and far away. Even if the hike, as in my case, only takes about an hour. So if you want to get your head free, you should go hiking in the solitude of the Glenveagh national park.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Unusual loneliness

In fact, Glenveagh is a good place to go for several days on such lonely routes and camping. This absolute loneliness is not without certainty, especially if you walk alone.

Because while you meet in many other regions again and again on hikers, you probably can not meet anyone for days. And that can be scary. After all, Mary picks me up again on top of the mountain: After all, a driveway leads here and on the weekend brings a bus people here so they can walk back to the castle.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Rainwalking in Donegal

Speaking of hiking: Nowhere can you go on such great rain-hikes. When we start it is still pleasant - cloudy, but warm and in between it makes it seem as if the sun is about to push through the cloud cover. We walk a bit on the Bluestack Way: It leads in three stages of about 20 km through the Bluestack Mountains and is - relatively rare for Ireland - well signposted: There is a sign about every 100 meters.

Ireland - Donegal

Stage 1 begins in Donegal: The 4000 residents' place at the bay and river nowadays mostly lives by tourists. Main road is the Donegal Castel. Right next door, in the former stables of the castle, is the Olde Castl Pub, in which one compares comparatively cheap a very creative cuisine. Highly Recommended!

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Special offers for hikers

Every year at the beginning of June the Donegal Walking Week takes place, during which three days of different walks around the village are offered. Abbey Hotel offers special offers.

I was also recommended the Eas Dun Lodge BundB in Lough Eske. Owner Anne McGlinchey is said to be of great help to hikers as she drives her or her luggage somewhere. You can also book guided hikes with Sean Mullen of Walk Talk Ireland.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

The Bluestack Way

The Bluestack Way and now leads for the first 20 kilometers past Lough Eske and through the hills to Drumone. Here is a youth hostel for the night and a pub. Nothing else The next 20 kilometers are through picturesque landscapes and great viewpoints to Glenties, where BundB's and a hostel accommodate hikers.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

The third stage finally leads to the small town of Ardara. The tourist offers here include a walking festival, a “multicultural festival” and the annual Cup of Tae Festival of traditional music in May.

About 25 KM away from Ardara is the Glencolmcille Folk Village, which gives a little insight into the rural life of the early 18., 19. and 20. Century. It was founded 1950 by James McDyer, but today is rather touristy, but not yet overflowed. At least it waits with homemade food and a small, very nice sandy beach.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Hiking on the Banagher Hill

However, my guide Anne Leonhardt decides that she wants to show me more of the landscape's original wilderness, and after a few miles leaves the Bluestack Way to climb Banagher Hill. According to Anne, the Bluestack Way is the only one that can easily handle even without a guide - and as I follow her up the trail, I agree:

Ireland-Dongeal001

Because our path is becoming a tramping path, which is hardly recognizable as such. Around us lakes, green, bare hills, a landscape that is almost eerie, which gives you the feeling of an alpine high mountain at an altitude of 300 meters. Knowing where to go to find the right path would not be possible for me now, because everything looks the same. After all, there is a fence that you can follow as untrained.

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Where there is a will, a path also flows

And at first we have a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape, we are suddenly surrounded by thick clouds within a few minutes and I begin to understand what the famous Irish rain means: Shortly afterwards we are wet to the bones, waterproof equipment brings since nothing and the path, which is not present anyway, has been transformed into crashing streams and mud puddles.

There is no escape from moisture, trees or shelters - no indication; the water even stands in the supposedly waterproof shoes. Even going back now would bring nothing more. There is only one thing left: just keep going!

Ireland - Donegal
Ireland - Donegal

Do not underestimate the forces of nature

Anne, originally from Dublin, has been on the Bluestack Mountains since 20 years. She is also a member of the local hiking club, Blustack Ramblers, who even regularly makes 6 tours to the mountains in the evening and takes 5 euros per person for tourists.

Anne herself offers her services as a hiking guide for 90 Euro. And she is equipped for such weather: Always, even in winter, she has, for example, a pair of waterproof pants, headgear against wind and cold, spare socks and even gloves - and indeed you can now good up here in July. In addition, the legs are specially protected by gaiters from damp grass. Who would have thought below, how cutting cold the wind here whistles?

Ireland - Donegal

Ireland - Donegal

When we get to the top of the summit, the rain finally stops. We look for a sheltered place to change our things and have a sip of hot tea - and enjoy the impressive view of the increasingly clear sky.

On the descent, we are largely spared from further rain showers. I am now doubly happy about the two walking sticks Anne gave me. And I've learned: Even in supposedly harmless Ireland, the violence of nature should not be underestimated. But actually it doesn't really matter if it rains or not. And when in doubt, the simple thing to do is to go further.

Ireland - Donegal

Ireland - Donegal

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One reply to "Destination-Report Donegal, Ireland: Decelerating loneliness with celebrity factor {review}"

  1. GrassRoutes e-bikes says:

    Another nice review from our most recent German Journalist…. - Exciting contributionaU7NIECPsX

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