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IMAGES: ALECSANDRA DRAGOI; GETTY


A RALUCA DRAGOI; GETTY


HIKING ROUTES


weary feet


STOPS FOR


ERRIGAL CLIMB DISTANCE: 3 miles


DIFFICULTY: Advanced


Looming 2,466ſt over northwest Donegal, Errigal is the county’s


highest mountain and renowned for its conical peak glittering in


grey-pink quartzite. A strenuous ascent involves trudging over


heathery bogland that’s superseded by a difficult stretch of loose and craggy scree leading to the rock-


strewn pinnacle. From here, there’s a narrow trail to the lower of the twin summits and stupendous cloud-


level panoramas of hills, forest and glistening lake below.


NANCY’S BARN, BALLYLIFFIN This converted cottage on the Inishowen Peninsula, run by local lad Kieran Duey, was proudly titled World Chowder Champion at 2017’s Chowder Cook Off. Slurp a bowl of the seafood showstopper or opt for a moreish sarnie. facebook.com/nancysbarn


BIDDY’S O’BARNES, BARNESMORE GAP Tucked into the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains, this roadside pub has welcomed weary travellers for 200-odd years. Interiors are timeless: think wooden beams, flagstone floors and a flickering fire. biddysobarnes.com


ARRANMORE WAY DISTANCE: 9 miles DIFFICULTY: Intermediate Hop on the ferry to reach Arranmore, Donegal’s largest offshore island (only measuring 8sq miles) that’s been inhabited since the early Iron Age (800BC). A walking trail circles its ragged northerly coastline, indented by dramatic sea stacks, hollowed-out caves and sandy spits before it cuts through wild and uninhabited interiors. Keep watch as corncrakes, snipes and storm petrels soar overhead as you hike. Don’t miss remnants of a prehistoric fort that can be spied on the southeastern corner, while the sheltered eastern side brings an opportunity to interact with the friendly locals — many of them Irish- speaking — and there are overnight stays available for anyone keen to linger longer.


BUNGLAS TO GLENTIES DISTANCE: 42 miles DIFFICULTY: Advanced This waymarked route is the first leg of the International Appalachian Trail, which starts in the Ulster province of West Donegal and finishes in Antrim, Northern Ireland. From Bunglass Point, which packs a punch with its audacious vistas of the soaring Sliabh Liag cliffs, watch your footing along an exposed and tricky trail towards the crescent beach at Malin Beg and the impressive megaliths of Malinmore. Further on, the pretty Gaeltacht hamlet of Glencolmcille makes a good resting spot before striding onwards to Ardara where you can sample the craic in fire-warmed pubs alive with the melodious strains of bodhrán and fiddle. The finish is 7.5 miles away in Glenties set against a superb mountain backdrop.


MCGRORY’S, CULDAFF A gastropub, music venue and guesthouse, McGrory’s is an all- around good craic. Crowd-pulling talents perform while the bar offers craſt beer, hearty grub and space for local fiddlers. mcgrorys.ie


BRENNAN’S CRITERION BAR, BUNDORAN Octogenarian sister act Patricia and Nan Brennan rule this legendary drinking hole that their grandfather opened in 1900. Peruse the shelves of old-world oddities before pulling up a stool at the wood-top bar.


LEO’S TAVERN, MEENALECK Framed gold discs cram the walls of this renowned music pub and family home of Enya, Moya Brennan and sibling folk group Clannad. Many of Ireland’s best talents perform here so expect pints served with toe-tapping balladry. leostavern.com


Donegal 2017 13


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