Donegal is still Ireland's best kept secret, tucked away on the Northwest coast but not for much longer, our secret is getting out as adventure seekers from all over the world ascend on Donegal to take part in every sort of adventure activity imaginable. Here are just ten reasons why we think Donegal is the adventure capital of Ireland:
1 - Rock Climbing:
Iain Miller of Unique Ascent has positively put County Donegal on the map for world class rock climbing and if that isn’t impressive enough, Unique Ascent has been nominated as Ireland's Best Adventure Experience 2015 by Tourism Ireland. Rock climbing in Donegal is mind blowing whether you're an experienced climber or a curious adventure seeker, there is a climb to suit everyone and it's suitable for children as young as three. The adrenalin rush is indescribable the first time you climb, it's a must do activity and really, anyone can do it. Trainers and a sense of humour that’s what Iain says. Sea stacks in Donegal are phenomenal and are scattered around the coast, if you stand on one of these beasts, you’ll be standing on a summit few, if any, have stood before you. Particular hot spots for rock climbing are around Cruit island, a newly discovered inland crag at Port Arthur, as well as the out standing climbing conditions on our collection of Donegal Islands of Gola, Tory and Owey. You can experience a family rock climbing and abseiling day on the 8th July in Cruit Island.
2 - Surfing:
You will find a smorgasboard of surfing throughout Donegal but let's start with Bundoran, boasting an excellent selection of surf schools, and hot spots with a worldwide reputation. And Bundoran raise the bar just that bit more with Sea Sessions - Surf & Music Festival in June – Check it out! Other surfing locations in Donegal include Tullan Strand, Rossnowlagh Beach, as well as more adventurous waves and breaks in the secret wilds of Magheraroarty, Dungloe, Dunfanaghy, Head and Inishowen, all equally excellent conditions just lesser known locations. Every level of surfer will have an awesome experience in Donegal.
3 - Kayaking:
Donegal's rugged coastline offers an unbeatable range of kayaking experiences, from beaches to island adventure tours, rivers and estuaries, kayaking doesn't get much better than in Donegal. There's an abundance of sea arches and caves, endless islands to explore, and what makes it so special is that these rarely visited hidden gems are only accessible by kayak or similar. James O'Donnell of Rapid Kayaking trained his Donegal lads to compete and win in the world sea kayaking championships! You can have an awesome kayak adventure with James with half day and full day tours. Selkie Sailing also offer kayaking in Port Arthur, or take part in an unforgettable sunset kayak with Kitty’s Kayaks (pictured right). These guys know all the best places, and it’s totally affordable too.
4 - Hill walking:
There are few places in the country that can tick every single box in terms of hill walking. Donegal really is one of hell of a county for walkers boasting some of the best walks in Europe and even connecting with the International Appalachian Trail via Slieve League or Sliabh Liag os gaeilge. Between the mountains, moorlands, beaches, megalithic tombs, archaeological sites, bog roads, sea cliffs, islands, river walks, forest trails, nature walks, old railway lines, historical mountain paths, valley treks, this county’s hill walking adventure will absolutely blow your mind.
We are surrounded by unspoilt landscape, simply breathing in the soul nourishing crisp clean air (best make the most of the air while we can or they'll have us paying for that too).
The Donegal Gaeltacht Way Walking Weekend takes place this May 1st - 4th, formerly the Dungloe walking weekend, we have designed a host of locally guided, multiple level and interest walks. Join the locals and practice your ‘cupla focal’ here in Donegal and take a walk on the wild side with us.
5 - Cycling:
Donegal's cycling routes are to be reckoned with. What we locals might think are small bendy roads are in fact, major cycling adventure opportunities. Cycling is becoming one of the most popular recreational sports in the county. With more mapped routes and signage than ever before and an all round raised interest in cycling, Donegal can cater for every type of cycling holiday and with it deliver the most diverse and outstandingly beautiful landscape and warm welcoming villages. Cycling conditions in Donegal are some of the best you will ever experience. No joke. Between the award winning Cycle Inishown, the innovative Grassroutes Electric Bikes, Ireland by Bike and the ever-growing Errigal Cycling Club, a cycling adventure in Donegal is an absolute must for any two-wheel enthusiast, whether for fun or serious action.
6 - Adventure Racing:
Speaking of serious action, Adventure racing in Donegal is reaching new and exciting heights. Between world class events such as The Race, the inaugural year of W.A.A.R. (Wild Atlantic Adventure Race), the mighty Mulroy Bay Adventure Race and of course Gael Force, to name but a few. You are simply spoilt for choice and challenge, these guys really know what they’re doing when it comes to designing courses, as they range from 25K to a whopping 265K. People are beginning to ascend on Donegal from all over the country and the world to compete in a Donegal Adventure Race. It's definitely one for the bucket list and yet another reason to travel to the most beautiful county in Ireland, hidden away here in Northwest Ireland, many say it’s the real Ireland – I have to agree.
Did you know there were 450 angling waters in Donegal, and that The Rosses alone has over one hundred and thirty lakes, and that's just one part of this awe-inspiring county. Angling in Donegal is some of the best in Europe. Angling is a serious sport, and although it may not seem so popular, the amount of choice in this county for angling adventures is second to none. From Saoire Mara to Sliabh League Boat Trips and Killybegs Angling and it's not just about fishing it's all about life on the water and all that's in the water, fascinating stuff too. This website, 'Where to fish in Ireland' accounts Donegal perfectly.
8 - Sailing:
The Wild Atlantic coast of Donegal is simply breathtaking, but when it comes to sailing this region has a whole range of opportunities to get out on the water. With sailing clubs such as Rathmullan Sailing and Lough Swilly Yacht Club and sailing courses with Selkie in Gaoth Dobhair as well as relaxing cruises with Donegal Waterbus. You are spoilt for choice between recreation and learning. Island hopping in Donegal is a wonderful sailing experience and a 'must do' day out. Some of the islands off the coast are uninhabited, unspoilt, rich with history and heritage, secluded beaches, bird watching, peace and tranquility. Bring a picnic and soak in the silence. Join us on the 11th & 12th April 2015 for some island hopping.
9 - Horse riding:
There are trekking operators, equestrian centres and riding lessons all over the county. With world class show jumpers too. There’s no shortage of horse riding in Donegal. Whether it’s a relaxing forest trek or an exhilarating beach gallop, you’ll find it here. The newly opened Wild Atlantic Equestrian Centre offer some great experiences, bilingual too. Check out their facebook page for more information.
10 - Diving:
Did you know there are more Ocean Liners and German U-boats sunk off Malin Head than anywhere else in the world and the majority of them were casualties of WW1 and WW2. You can actually dive down and get a closer look too. Diving in Donegal has it covered, with many brilliant dive centres dotted around the coastline like Mevagh Diving School and Dive Arranmore, there's a whole other world down there to explore and there’s no shortage of diving adventure opportunities waiting for you here in Donegal.
And last but not least:
11 – Rock agus Roam:
The best way to have an unforgettable adventure weekend in Donegal is with Rock agus Roam, an experience like no other where you take part in rock climbing, sea kayaking, island hopping and hill walking all with the most experienced guides. Book our next event on April 11th & 12th, weekend packages include accommodation, food, transport and entertainment, there are also day passes or just take part in one activity. You also get to enjoy the very best in Irish culture being in the Gaelacht region (Irish speaking), with a night of music, song and dance and couple this with the chance to use your ‘cupla focal’ - you know it's in there - it really doesn't get much better. Is it any wonder the Sunday Times recommend Rock agus Roam as Most Unique Experience on the Wild Atlantic Way. Join us on the 11th & 12th April for our Spring Extravaganza, step outside feel alive.