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Glengesh Pass: A Mad And Magical Road Through The Mountains In Donegal

Glengesh Pass: A Mad And Magical Road Through The Mountains In Donegal

Roads like the one at Glengesh Pass in Donegal make Ireland an absolute joy to explore.

It doesn’t matter if you’re batin’ along on a bike, sitting snugly inside a warm car or sauntering along on foot, there’s just something immensely special about making your way down around the bends at Glengesh.

Arguably one of the more unique places to visit in Donegal, Glengesh is one of several stops along a very scenic looped drive in the area (info below).

If you’ve yet to experience this corner of Donegal for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know from parking to where to find the Glengesh viewing point.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Glengesh Pass in Donegal

glengesh pass ardara

Photos by Lukassek/

Although a visit to Glengesh Pass is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Glengesh Pass is a stretch of very bendy road that connects Glencolmcille to Ardara. It’s a 10-minute drive from Ardara Village and a 25-minute drive from Glencolmcille.

2. Where to start

In theory, you can start the drive/cycle from either way, but it’s more impressive if you drive down into the valley (we’ve mapped this out for you below).

3. Parking

There’s a tiny bit of parking at the top if the pass, if you’re coming from the Glencolmcille side (here on Google Maps). There’s also a little coffee cart here, at times, where you can grab a quick pick-me-up.

4. Safety

As you can see from the photos above and below, the road at Glengesh Pass is narrow and extremely bendy, so please SLOW DOWN if you’re driving and keep an eye out for walkers and cyclists.

About Glengesh Pass

glengesh pass donegal

Photos via Shutterstock

Glengesh (which means ‘Glen of the Swans’) is a high mountain pass that cuts through the Glengesh and Mulmosog mountains and links the towns of Ardara and Glencolumbkille.

Often referred to as the ‘Donegal Pass’, the road at Glengesh snakes through the valley and provides a very unique experience, regardless of whether you’re driving or on foot.

Although this is a popular spot for tourists, I’ve yet to arrive here when there were more than 5 or 6 other people admiring the view. So (hopefully) you’ll arrive and have the whole place to yourself.

Over the course of your spin, you’ll encounter quiet open countryside, plenty of green fields, narrowish roads and sheep… lots and lots of sheep.

Things to do at Glengesh Pass

Although many people pay a fleeting visit to the Donegal Pass, there’s a plenty to see and do around it.

Below, you’ll find some suggestions (just keep in mind that many of the photos above and below are from drones!).

1. Soak up the views from above, first

Glengesh viewing point

Photos via Google Maps

The Glengesh viewing point (here on Google Maps) is one of the most notable discovery points along this section of the Wild Atlantic Way.

You’ll find it on the Glencolmcille side of the Donegal Pass and there’s room for 7 or so cars, once people have parked properly.

Pull in here and soak up the views of the valley laid out in front of you. There’s another tiny spot to pull in (here on Google Maps) just before you arrive at the first bend.

2. Then (slowly) meander along the bendy road

gelngesh pass donegal

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

After you leave the main viewing point, it’s time to slowly make your descent into the valley. Now, the road here is narrow, but not majorly so.

You will, however, need to be very cautious when taking the bends as they’re extremely tight, so take your time and drive safely.

Keep following the road through the valley and you’ll have the option to continue onto the scenic loop.

3. Followed by the looped drive/cycle

There’s a nice looped drive that you can head off on from Glengesh that takes you to many of the more popular attractions in the area.

When you leave Glengesh, follow the road around to Assaranca Waterfall. From here, you have Maghera Beach, Glencolumbkille Folk Village, Malin Beg and more (see map above) close by.

Places to visit near Glengesh Pass

One of the beauties of Glengesh is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the Donegal Pass!

1. Assaranca Waterfall (20-minute drive)

Assaranca Waterfall Ardara

Photos via Shutterstock

Much easier to reach than Donegal’s Secret Waterfall, the mighty Assaranca Waterfall is a spectacular sight that’s right next to the road and a handy 20 minutes from Glengesh.

2. Caves of Maghera (20-minute drive)

Maghera Caves

Photos via Shutterstock

Another great place to visit near Glengesh Pass in Donegal is Maghera Caves and Beach. This is a beautiful beach that has a wild rugged feeling that’s well worth rambling along.

3. Narin/Portnoo Beach (25-minute drive)

Portnoo Beach

Photo via Shutterstock

Sometimes referred to as ‘Ardara Beach’, Narin Strand is one of Donegal’s finest, and it’s a short spin from the pass. It’s also generally nice and quiet outside of the summer months.

4. Plenty more attractions (25-minute-plus drive)

Slieve League Cliffs

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s Glencolumbkille Folk Village (20-minute drive), the beautiful Malin Beg Beach (35-minute drive) and the Slieve League Cliffs (30-minute drive).

FAQs about visiting Glengesh Pass in Donegal

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park at Glengesh Pass to what to do nearby.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is Glengesh Pass worth visiting?

Yes, for several reasons. The views are incredible, the road is beautifully unique and, and I’m basing this on the last 3 times I’ve visited, the chances are you’ll have the place all to yourself.

Where do I park at Glengesh?

There’s a little parking area at the top of the hill on the Ardara side. You can hop out here and sit on the wall. There’s also a little picnic table.

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Michael Sheehan

Wednesday 2nd of February 2022

Great tips. Thank you.

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