Donegal

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1. Glenveagh National Park

Lough VeaghThis route starts at the Visitor Centre by Loch Glen Bheatha and takes you the best part of eight miles up a mountain valley to a col near its head.

Follow the surfaced track for a couple of miles as far as Glenveagh Castle. After this the track is unsurfaced. It's another two miles to the end of the loch; after that we start to gain height, slowly at first. This is real mountain country now and the views all around - especially back down the valley - are fine.

The path steepens and I'm not too proud to get off and push in places. Eventually you'll emerge onto the road that crosses the mountains here. Turn left and you've a breeze of a run for four miles or more down to Gartan Lough.

At the head of the loch you join the R251 which will take you over the hill and back to Gleanveagh.

[Since writing this report, I've been contacted by someone saying that they found that access for cycles down the glen was not allowed. It's possible that this is a seasonal restriction during the summer months - there was certainly not a problem when I was there, but that was in April 98. In any event, you may wish to check it out first.]

2. Rosguill Peninsula

Rosguill PeninsulaTo the west of the Fanad Peninsula lies the smaller Rosguill peninsula; and though smaller, it's no less interesting for that.

Cycling anticlockwise round the obvious route takes you up past the golf course and, as your height increases, so the views to the north and east improve. Rosses beach is worth a visit but it's a steep descent - and climb back up - to get there. Continuing round the loop reveals more views to the west and the stark outline of Tory Island.

One of the most striking features of Rosguill is Tra More, the beach on the west side around three miles long. Access at the northern end is easy enough and cycling the beach is a breeze. As you approach the point of land where the beach goes round a corner to your left, however, the sand softens and you'll probably need to push until you're well round the corner. Cross a small stream and look for a stile into a field from where you can join a track leading to the R245 road.

3. Aranmore

AranmoreThe ferry from Burtonport weaves through a narrow channel then takes you across wider waters to Aranmore. Cycling is the ideal way to tour the island.

At its northwest tip is a lighthouse and the road out of the harbour climbs steeply heading in that direction. From the high point on the road - about 500ft - the views are extensive in all directions; Tory Island, in particular, with its own distinctive outline.

Approaching the lighthouse, sea cliffs dominate the scene to the south. To see equally spectacular views to the north, you'll need to leave your bike and walk a couple of hundred metres or so up the grassy slopes before all is revealed. It is, however, well worth the effort so don't miss it.

Head back towards the harbour and, just past a small lake on your right, a track leads off to the southwest. This can be followed for two or three miles heading across the hills to emerge at the road near the SW corner of the island - a decent map is advised as there are several variations. Follow the coast road back round to the harbour.

4. The Rosses

A landscape barely fit for sheep - low hills, gorse, sparse moorland, lakes and bog. This is the Rosses.

Burtonport is where the ferry sails from to Aranmore. Inland from Burtonport a surfaced track heads west following - only vaguely, at first - the route of a long-abandoned railway. At a crossroads by a post office there's a plaque commemorating this, the spot where 'the first action in the War of Independence' took place when Irish Volunteers rescued two comrades - James Wood and James Duffy - from the British in January 1918.

Two and a half miles further on the track joins the actual course of the railway which it follows for almost three miles to a road two miles SE of Annagary. From Annagary follow the coast road back to Burtonport. Those inclined to do so might scout around Kincaslough for a peek at Daniel O'Donnel's house....

5. Fanad Peninsula

This is much larger than its neighbour, the Rosguill peninsula to the west, and boasts several fine beaches.

Pick your own route - there are any number of variations. We started from Portsalon in the east and went first to Fanad Head which was, I thought anyway, a tad disappointing. Moving on to Ballyhiernan Bay, though, reveals a dream of a beach and one that's not spoilt by endless rows of holiday caravans.

There are more beaches further on and, as always, no shortage of pubs for a hot day. Enjoy!

 

Rathmelton

Rathmelton

Tra More

Tra More

Glen Veagh

Glen Veagh

Inch Island

Inch Island
 

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