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

A beautiful bendy road

glengesh pass ardara
Photos by Lukassek/shutterstock.com

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.

If you’ve nipped into our guide to Ireland’s bendiest and narrowest roads, you’ll be familiar with Glengesh Pass (it’s also in our guide to the best places to visit in Donegal).

If you’ve yet to experience Glengesh for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about this brilliant Irish road.

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

Glengesh Pass donegal
Photo by Lukassek/shutterstock.com

So, a visit to Glengesh Pass in Donegal is reasonably straightforward, once you know where to pull up and grab a view and where to park.

Below, you’ll find some quick need-to-knows if you’re driving or cycling Glengesh Pass, along with a couple of warnings.

1. Location

Glengesh Pass is a stretch of very bendy road that connects the little towns of Glencolmcille to Ardara. It’s a 9-minute drive from Ardara Village and 24 minutes from Glencolmcille.

2. Where to park

There’s parking at the top if the pass, if you’re coming from the Ardara side. There’s also a little coffee cart here, at times, where you can grab a quick pick-me-up.

3. 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 be careful. 

About Glengesh Pass

glengesh pass donegal
Photo by Gareth Wray (you can buy a print of this here if you fancy)

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.

If you’re in search of scenic drives while visiting Donegal, you’ve found a mighty one here. 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.

Although Glengesh Pass 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 could arrive and have the whole place to yourself.

Where to catch a lovely view at Glengesh

glengesh pass ardara
Photos by Lukassek/shutterstock.com

So, as you’ve probably gathered, the photos above have been taken from drones. Don’t let that put you off, though – you can still soak up some brilliant views from a number of spots at Glengesh Pass.

The first, and most obvious one, is from the little viewing point on the Ardara side. There’s space for 6 or 7 cars to park and there’s a little wall where you can perch yourself.

The second, and slightly trickier spot, is from a little pull in area just back from the car in the photo above. There’s just about space for one car here.

Pull in and safely climb up the grassy hill to your left. If you attempt this, keep your wits about you and be careful. You can soak up a nice view out over the bendy road from here.

Other things to do near Glengesh Pass

Silver Strand Beach
Photo by Milosz Maslanka (Shutterstock)

One of the reasons we add this corner of the county to every Donegal road trip guide that we write is because there’s a cluster of things to see all within the one area.

Below, you’ll find a clatter of things to do near Glengesh Pass. Each attraction is under a 40-minute drive from Glengesh, so you won’t be stuck in the car for too long.

1. Assaranca Waterfall (16-minutes away)

ardara waterfall donegal
Photo by Yevhen Nosulko/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 16 minutes from Glengesh.

2. Maghera Beach (18-minutes away)

Maghera Strand near assaranca
Photo by Lukassek (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. Glencolmcille Folk Village (24-minutes away)

Glencolmcille Folk Village Donegal
Photo left: Christy Nicholas. Right: Glencolmcille Folk Village

Finely located overlooking Glen Bay Beach, Glencolmcille Folk Village is a replica of how villages in Ireland looked many years ago. The tour here is well worth doing!

4. Malin Beg (33-minutes away)

Silver Strand Beach near ardara
Photo by Milosz Maslanka (Shutterstock)

Malin Beg aka Silver Strand Beach is arguably one of the best beaches in Donegal! It’s known and loved by those in the know, but many that visit Donegal tend to overlook it.

5. The Slieve League Cliffs (25-minutes away)

slieve league cliffs
Photo left: Pierre Leclerc. Right: MNStudio

The incredible Slieve League Cliffs are twice the height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the views you’ll be treated to on a clear day are out of this world.

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.

What is there to see close to Glengesh Pass?

  • Assaranca Waterfall (16-minutes away)
  • Maghera Beach (18-minutes away)
  • Malin Beg (33-minutes away)
  • Glencolmcille Folk Village (24-minutes away)
  • The Slieve League Cliffs (25-minutes away)

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

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