Day 18 (Fermanagh and Donegal) – Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven, caves, cliffs and more
Day 18 sees us move into Fermanagh for a spell before making our way up towards Donegal.
There’s a solid day of exploring ahead.
Let’s get cracking!
1 – Climbing Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven
// Your hotel to Cuilcagh – 55-minute drive (arrive for 10:00) //
You’ll often hear the boardwalk on Cuilcagh Mountain referred to ‘Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven‘ or ‘Ireland’s Great Wall‘ (not sure where they’re getting the ‘wall’ from…
The marvelous wooden boardwalk above that you’re currently devouring with your eyes sits on Cuilcagh, a Mountain that straddles the Fermanagh and Cavan border.
The boardwalk covers an impressive 1.6km of Cuilcagh Mountain, making it very walker friendly (especially for those with lower levels of fitness).
Walk time: the last time I did it (2017) it took 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Difficulty: moderate levels of fitness needed.
Tip: arrive early – parking here at peak times is an absolute disaster. Parking costs £5.
More info: here’s everything you need to know about walking the Cuilcagh Boardwalk.
2 – The Marble Arch Caves (and a light bite to eat)
// Finish up the walk at 13:00 and arrive to the caves for 13:20 (they’re right next to each other) //
If you’re in need of a light post-walk feed, drop into the cafe on-site first.
The Marble Arch Caves are found within throwing distance of where you’ll be finishing up your walk.
They’re a series of natural limestone caves that are around 11.5 kilometers in length.
Interestingly enough, the caves form the longest known cave system in Northern Ireland.
Those that nip along to the Marble Arch Caves will experience a natural underworld of;
- Winding passages
- Lofty chambers
The tour takes visitors on a short stroll down through the Marble Arch National Nature Reserve, before taking a short 10-minute underground boat journey and then a 1.5km walk through the showcave that you can see above.
3 – Slieve League
// Cuilcagh to Slieve League – 2-hour drive (arrive for 16:30) //
We've a decent spin to get us up into Donegal for our next stop, but it'll be worth it (if you're visiting in the winter months when the evenings get dark early, you'll need to leave this until the following day.
Towering above the Atlantic at 2,000 feet (twice the height of the Cliffs of Moher), the Slieve League Cliffs are an adventurers dream.
On a clear day, the cliffs offer breath-taking views across Donegal Bay, Sligo and Mayo.
Slieve League is perfect for those that may be unable to partake in any strenuous activity, as a path from the entrance point to the viewing point allows you to drive right the way up to the top.
4 - A room for the night
// Slieve League to your B&B - 15-minute drive (arrive for 18:00) //
For convenience, and due to the reviews being sublime, I'm going to recommend that you spend the night in Slieve League House B&B.
Head to the B&B and get checked in. When you've chilled for a bit, head to the Rusty Mackrel for a bite to eat.
Monday 13th of March 2023
Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you
Thursday 9th of March 2023
the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.
Monday 6th of March 2023
Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?
Saturday 18th of February 2023
Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.
Keep up the good work.