Climbing Mount Errigal: A Guide To Conquering Errigal Mountain In Donegal

mount errigal hike
Photos via shutterstock.com

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know if you’re thinking about climbing Mount Errigal in Donegal.

With its dramatic shape and pointed summit (it looks even more imposing in winter), Errigal Mountain near Gweedore is a sight to behold.

The tallest and steepest of Donegal’s Seven Sisters range, Errigal soars up to an impressive 2,464 ft and can be seen for miles around. 

A day spent conquering Mount Errigal is up there with the best things to do in Donegal, like visiting Slieve League and taking a ferry to Arranmore Island.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know if you plan on heading off on the Mount Errigal hike. 

Climbing Mount Errigal in Donegal 

mount errigal in donegal
Photo by Martin Flemming Via Failte Ireland

As one of the most iconic Irish mountains, Errigal is unsurprisingly popular with hikers and there are a number of different routes to take.

And while it’s not a simple walk, the views from the summit are breath-taking. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Derryveagh Mountains, the sweeping Donegal countryside and, on a clear day, vistas all the way to the coast. 

Famous for its changing shape depending on where you view it from, it means every hike will look like a new challenge if you start from different spots. Also, thanks to its quartzite composition, it takes on a striking pink hue when the sun starts to set.

How does it take to climb Errigal mountain?

climbing mount errigal
Photo by Patrick Mangan on shutterstock.com

The hike that we recommend up Errigal mountain is around 4.5km and should take between 2-3 hours to complete, depending on how long you spend at the summit taking in the views. 

Is the hike hard?

errigal mountain hike
Photo by Mark Carthy on shutterstock.com

The difficulty level for hiking Mount Errigal is moderate, with some knowledge of mountain navigation essential.

While there’s no section with terrain that’s too much of a challenge, it is a steep mountain and the length of the trail could pose problems for inexperienced walkers or those with a low level of fitness. 

Where to park for the Mount Errigal hike

how long does it take to climb mount errigal
Photo by Mark Carthy on shutterstock.com

There’s a small car park to the south-east of the mountain, just off the R251 between Gweedore and Dunlewy. From this car park, you can start your climb up Errigal.

If you’re struggling to find it, stick ‘Errigal Mountain Hike Parking’ into Google Maps and you’ll be taken straight there.

What to bring with you 

View from the top of Mount Errigal
Photo by Paul_Shiels on shuttertstock.com

For a walk of this length, you’ll want to pack some sturdy walking boots, a raincoat, a few snacks and a bottle of water.

Some sort of light fleece is a good idea at any time of year and you’ll definitely need to wrap up if you climb Errigal Mountain in winter. 

Mount Errigal in a pretty remote location so make sure you’re good to go when you arrive as there’s not much in the area in terms of supplies.

As with any hike, you should let someone know where you’re going in advance and when you expect to return. A fully charged phone is essential.

The Mount Errigal trail 

Photo of car park
Photo via Google Maps

Starting at the aforementioned car park, the initial section of the Mount Errigal trail can get quite boggy and is something of a surprising slog considering you’re so early into your journey (and at such a low gradient).

This is where sturdy walking boots will come in handy. In dry conditions, regular walking boots should be fine but always keep an eye on your weather app when you’re planning the trip. 

Keep following the stream on your right-hand side and eventually, you’ll come across a rising visible path and this is where the mountain ascent truly starts. 

Beginning the ascent

Woman looking at the horizon at Mount Errigal
Photo by luizandrade on shutterstock.com

The trail up Errigal Mountain is easy to follow but the terrain here totally changes from boggy to lots of loose rocks and shale.

It can be slippy at times so be careful that you don’t lose your footing. This is also where the Mount Errigal hike begins to become much steeper, so rushing the climb is definitely not recommended (I’ve heard a few grisly stories about broken ankles and suchlike…). 

The path continues up and begins to narrow while the hillside drops away on either side of the trail. You’ll need to do a little scrambling as you work your way up, but it should take around an hour or less to reach the top. 

Reaching the summit of Errigal

Aerial view of Mount Errigal
Photo by Lukassek on shutterstock.com

One unique thing about the summit of Errigal Mountain is that it has two peaks! While the first one you reach is the tallest, the second one is joined by a narrow path called One Man’s Pass and the crossing is only 30-40 metres so it would be foolish not to do both.

A thing to note, however, is that there isn’t a whole lot of room at the top and it can get extremely blustery if conditions are poor, so please be careful.

As mentioned before, the views from the top of Mount Errigal are some of the finest in all of Ireland and it’s worth taking some time to appreciate them all.

On a clear day to the north, you should be able to make out the (usually) snow-capped summit of Slieve Snaght in north Donegal, while looking south the bizarre shape of Benbulben may also be visible. 

Making your descent

Errigal Mountain at sunset
Photo by Ryan Scharf on shutterstock.com

The descent down Mount Errigal will take between 40 minutes and 1 hour (potentially longer if you’re stopping for photos – and I wouldn’t blame you!), but the scree underfoot can arguably feel even slippier on the return leg so be careful.

Taking poles with you might be useful too if you’re worried about losing your footing during this section. 

Try to stay to the left towards the stream when you’re back down on the boggy ground. The last thing you want to do just before reaching your car is coat your shoes in wet mud!

If you’ve taken on the Errigal Mountain before and would prefer more of a challenge, then you could try and hike it from the north or western sides. These routes require more scrambling but are nowhere near as busy as the traditional trail.

The Mount Errigal hike: wrapping it up

Climbing Mount Errigal is up there with our favourite things to do in Donegal. The climb isn’t overly challenging and the views you’re treated to are out of this world.

Have you done the Mount Errigal hike in the past? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!

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