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Hiking the Bluestack & Sli Cholmcille Way

Ardara to Ardara

  • Slieve-league-Donegal-Wild-Atlantic-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Mountain-view-Glenties-Bluestack and Sli Cholmkille Way Ireland Ways
  • Sli-Cholmcille-Way-Donegal-Bluestack-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Lough-Eske-Donegal-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Glencolumbkille-Donegal-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Tractor-Ardara-Donegal-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Beach-Glencolumbkille-Bluestack and Sli Cholmkille Way Ireland Ways
  • Standing Stone Glencolumbkille Bluestack and Sli Cholmkille Way Ireland Ways
  • Ruined-Church-Kilcar-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Glengesh-Valley-Donegal-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Sliabh-Liag-Pilgrim-path-Donegal-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways
  • Tweed-Donegal-Bluestack-and-Sli-Cholmkille-Way-Ireland-Ways

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This tour includes three great routes in one fantastic week’s walking on the Wild Atlantic Way; the Bluestack Mountain Way, Saint Colmcille Coastal Way (Sli Cholmcille Way), and Slieve League Sea Cliffs.

The Bluestack Mountains are located in County Donegal in the North West corner of Ireland. The mountains contain several lofty peaks and you will be traversing many of the valleys that make up the Bluestack mountain range. Scenery all around is simply magnificent with meandering rivers, cascading waterfalls and rugged exhilarating views to overload the senses.

In a wonderfully remote corner of Donegal the St Colmcille Way (Sli Cholmcille) offers walkers some of the finest walking paths and coastal views in Ireland. Added to this is a rich cultural and archaeological heritage with opportunities along the routes to visit numerous historic monuments like the signal tower at Glen Head or Glencolumbcille Cross Pillar.

The Slieve League Pilgrim Path (Sliabh Liag) takes walkers to the majestic Slieve League sea cliffs. Towering over 600 meters above the sea they are the tallest sea cliffs in Ireland. The distances walked each day are high, but you will spend the majority of your time walking along quiet rural roads and mountain tracks, so the distances should not seem as long.

VIEW OUR TOUR OPTIONS

  • The Bluestack Way – Short Break:
    • 4 days/3 nights. Depart Donegal, walking into the mountainous heart of the Bluestack Way for two days. Staying in our selected accommodation along the way.
  • The Sli Cholmcille Way – Highlight:
    • 5 days/4 nights. Departing Ardara you will start and finish your tour of the Sli Cholmcille Way, including a days looped tour of the Sliabh Liag Pilgrims Path. Staying in our selected accommodation along the way.
  • The Bluestack Way & Sli Cholmcille Way – Full Walk:
    • 7 days/6 nights. Depart Donegal, walking into the mountainous heart of The Bluestack Way for two days. From Ardara you will start and finish your tour of the Sli Cholmcille Way including a day on the Sliabh Liag Pilgrims Path. Staying in our selected accommodation along the way.

Trip highlights

  • Visit Donegal's 15th century Jacobean castle
  • Stand atop of Ireland's tallest sea cliffs 'Slieve League' (602m)
  • Observe yarn being spun and tweed being produced by Donegal's mills
  • Immerse yourself in Irish culture by sharing words 'as Geailge' with the locals

1 Donegal

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Your first day will be spent travelling to the historic town of Donegal, where you will check into your accommodation and explore its winding streets. There is evidence of archaeological settlements around Donegal town dating to prehistoric times, including the remains of defensive earthworks and ring forts. Donegal Town itself is famous for being the former centre of government of the O’Donnell Clan, the great Gaelic family who ruled Tir Chonaill in Ulster for generations and who played a pivotal role in Irish history.

In more recent times the town is by-passed by major roads which has relieved the town centre of excess congestion making it a far more pleasant town to stroll around. The area known as The Diamond, is the social hub of Donegal town for music, gastronomy, poetry and cultural gatherings in the area.

2 Donegal to Eany Beg Valley staying in Donegal - 24km

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7H | +492m / -385m
You will begin your walk after breakfast this morning, leaving the bustling streets of Donegal town in favour of quiet rural roads and forest trails. You will follow the Bluestack Way parallel to Loch Eske for a few kilometres, before turning away from the lake along a rural Irish road. As you gain altitude contouring around Bangher Hill (392m), a panoramic view of Loch Eske and Donegal harbour will emerge (so take the time to look around).
Following the English River you will descend from this high point into the Valley. Rejoining a quiet agricultural road, you will walk through this open landscape (predominantly used for sheep and beef farming). You will be collected and transported to your accommodation for the evening.

3 Eany Beg Valley to Ardara - 24km

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8H | +451m / -531m
After breakfast you will be transferred back to where you left the route yesterday. The toughest part of today’s walk will be walking out of the valley along a mountain track on Cloghmeen. At 401m this is the highest point on the tour giving great views of the Bluestack mountains and your first glimpses of Glenties and Ardara. Descending along a mountain track and small rural roads, with the terrain improves the closer you get to the market village of Glenties, The walk from Glenties to your accommodation in Ardara will be fairly flat along quiet rural roads and country trails.
Ardara is the end of our ‘Short Break’.

4 Ardara to Glencolumbkille - 29km

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9H | +605m / -604m
Ardara is a small coastal town on the Wild Atlantic Way where the Bluestack Way finishes and the Sli Cholmcille Way (St Colmcille Way) begins. The Sli Cholmchille Way is a coastal path, passing a waterfall and caves. From here the route turns south along a valley that separates the mountain lakes, Lough na Lughraman and Lough Croaghballaghdown. The high point of this valley is home to a small quarry and shortly after reaching it you will turn off the road in favour of a mountain track that follows the river into the next valley.Joining a rural road once again it will take you to the coast and a small beach regularly used by fishermen for lobster fishing. This is a nice place to take a short break before tackling the last 7km walk to your accommodation in the small village of Glencolumbkille this evening.
Ardara is the start of our ‘Highlight’ tour.

5 Glencolumbkille to Carrick - 26km

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8H | +653m / -701m

A shorter day by comparison, walking from Glencolumbkille to Carrick (roughly 10km from accommodation to accommodation). When you arrive into Carrick you will start a one day looped section of the Sliabh Liag Pilgrims Path (Slieve Leage meaning grey mountain). This path follows a path above the Sliabh Liag Sea Cliffs to the ruins of a chapel and then on to the summit of Sliabh Liag mountain (595m) via ‘One Man’s Path’. These are the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe reaching a height of 601m, which is almost twice as high as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and nearly three times the height of the more famous Cliffs of Moher.

When you have had your fill of these spectacular coastal views, return to Carrick, for your accommodation this evening.

6 Carrick to Ardara 27km

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9H | +563m / -558m

The last day of the walking tour on this section of the Wild Atlantic Way will see you return to Ardara. The first leg will be from Carrick to Kilcar along coastal roads. From Kilcar the route turns inland along quiet rural roads and a mountain track as you cross Mulnanaff mountain (475m). As you descend from Mulnanaff mountain you will enter the Glengesh Valley. Entering the valley will indicate the final leg of this tour. The V-shaped valley, flanked by a mixture of heather beds, grass lands and pine forests will frame Ardara in the distance as your goal for the evening.

7 Ardara

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After your breakfast your walking tour with us finishes.
Why not ask our team about adding an extra night accommodation if you wish to rest and soak up the atmosphere in the sea side town of Donegal. Donegal town has a wealth of history and culture to offer, including stone circles, castles, abbeys, a railway heritage centre and a craft village.

Hotels & guest houses have been carefully selected for their location, comfort, character, food, and friendliness of the staff. Accommodation displayed is subject to availability and if the hotel/guest house described is not available, we will provide you with one of the same standard of comfort & price.

Donegal - Standard

Your first nights accommodation is a hotel in the centre of Donegal town, its location will give you an opportunity to enjoy a nice meal and relaxing drink before starting your tour in the morning.

Ardara - Standard

Tonight’s accommodation lies in the heritage town of Ardara. Ireland’s capital in the manufacture of hand-woven tweeds and hand knits.

Glencolumbkille - Standard

Our first choice accommodation is a charming family run guest house in the coastal village of Glencolumbkille.

Carrick - Standard

Tonight you will stay in a comfortable guest house overlooking Teelin Bay, on the outskirts of Carrick Village.

Donegal Average Temperature and Rainfall

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How to Get There

Live information on Rome2Rio. We can also arrange private transfers if you prefer, just ask us.

 

Donegal Town

 

Derry Airport 56km:

Step 1: Derry Airport to Derry / Londonderry Centre | Ulster or Translink Bus | Travel time 0H30 approx, outside the main terminal leaving every hour all day | Fare €8 approx one way.

OR

Step 1: Derry Airport to Derry / Londonderry Centre | Taxi | Travel time 0H15 approx, taxi rank outside the main terminal | Fare €10 approx one way.

Step 2: Derry / Londonderry Centre (Ulsterbus Depot Foyle St) to Donegal | Bus Éireann | Travel time 1H20 approx, leaving every 2 hours all day | Fare €20 approx return.

 

Ireland West Airport Knock 118km:

Knock Airport to Donegal | Bus Éireann No.64 | Travel time 2H15 approx, outside the main terminal leaving every 2 hours all day | Fare €31 approx return.

 

Dublin Airport 227km:

Dublin Airport to Donegal |  Bus Éireann No.30 | Travel time 3H40 approx outside the main terminal, leaving every 2 hours all day | Fare €27 approx return.

 

Ardara

To Donegal Town 29km:

Ardara (Ardara Heritage Centre stop) to Donegal | Bus Éireann No.492 | Travel time 0H50 approx, 3 per day | Fare €4 approx one way.

 

More information:

Bus Eireann – Intercity Bus

Translink – Intercity Bus