Day 15. Portsalon to Derry
So, we’re on to our final lap of the Donegal stretch of our road trip as we move into day 15.
Just writing about Donegal has given me an itch to book a couple of nights there over the next few months!
If you can, get up early and enjoy the sunrise from your bed and then get on the road for 8.
1. Grianan of Aileach
If you stay in Portsalon, you’ll be an hour drive from our first stop of day 15. The Grianan of Aileach is a hillfort that sits on top of the 801 ft high Greenan Mountain on Inishowen.
According to these lads, the stone fort is said to date back to the 1st century on the site of an early Iron Age multivallate hillfort.
The drive up to Grianan of Aileach is worth the trip alone. When you reach the top you’ll be treated to a magnificent 360 view that takes in Lough Swilly, Lough Foyle and the gorgeous countryside of the Inishowen Peninsula.
2. Dunree Head
Our second stop of the day (40-minute drive from Grianan of Aileach) takes us to Dunree Head to check out Dunree Fort and the military museum.
The Museum is positioned in a wonderful setting that overlooks Lough Swilly on the on the Inishowen Peninsula.
There are several weather-beaten barracks which you can have a gander at and if you fancy along with an audiovisual presentation.
3. Mamore Gap
If you’ve never visited Mamore Gap (15-minute drive from Dunree Head) before, then you’re in for a treat.
Found on the Inishowen Peninsula this immensely scenic drive twists and turns through the gap along a steep route.
It’s hard not to admire the sheep and cyclists battling their way up the steep hillsides as your car (mine did anyway) struggles against the incline.
Once you reach the summit of Mamore Gap it’ll immediately become evident why this is one of the best things to do in Donegal.
The view from the top is one of those scenes that paints itself upon your mind forever. Wild. Remote. Unspoiled. Mamore Gap will take your breath away.
4. Glenevin Waterfall
The first time I laid eyes upon Glenevin Waterfall (13-minute drive from our last stop) it mustered up images in my mind of the first Jurassic Park movie.
The waterfall looks like something that you’d find on a prehistoric island from a land that time forgot.
Once you’ve parked the car, you’re around a 15 minute walk away that’ll take you along a lovely pathway that’s surrounded by trees.
5. Malin Head
Next up is Malin Head. It’s a 30-minute drive from the waterfall so, when you’re ready, head off on your merry way.
After visiting Malin Head recently, the one thing that hit me, and that stuck with me long after my visit, was the sheer power of mother nature.
As I stood and gazed out at the jagged rocks that jutted from the water nearby, I was half deafened from the whistle of the gales that whipped over the Atlantic coupled with the sound of water clattering against rock.
There are several walks you can do here – the road walk to Banba’s Crown is roughly 12km and will take you around 5 hours depending on fitness levels.
6. Lunch in the Seaview Tavern
If you fancy a bit of a feed, take the handy 4-minute drive from Malin Head over to the Seaview Tavern.
Chill for a while and fuel up for a busy afternoon and evening ahead. There’s a good chunk of exploring left to be done today!
7. Kinnagoe Bay
When you finish up eating, hit the road and take the 38-minute drive out to the beautiful Kinnagoe Bay.
We’ve visited many a great beach over the past few days, and this one is the icing on the cake. You can view the bay from the road above or take a walk down to the sand to give the legs a ‘wee stretch’.
8. Derry City Walls
Our next stop takes us out of Donegal (45-minute drive) and into the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland – Derry.
The walls were constructed between 1613-1618 as a defense against the early seventeenth-century settlers from England and Scotland.
They form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade to check out the layout of the original town. Spend some time walking the Walls of Derry for a stroll into a bit of rich Irish history.
9. The Free Derry Corner
You’re a 2-minute stroll away from one of our last stops of the day – the Free Derry Corner. This is a now-iconic landmark in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry,
The corner, and the surrounding streets, were the scene of the Battle of the Bogside in 1969 and Bloody Sunday in 1972.
Please do take some time to read about both of the above events. It was first painted in January 1969 and has seen many iterations since.
10. Dinner in Derry
I’m going to recommend that you head to the Sooty Olive Restaurant – mainly because I love the name, but also because the reviews for the place are through the roof.
Get in, order food, and spend some time looking back over what has been a crazy two weeks!
11. Portstewart for the night
When you’ve finished eating and chilling, tip on to Portstewart. It’s a 50-minute drive away, which isn’t ideal, but it’ll set us up nicely for the following day.
I’m going to recommend that you stay at 17 Seahaven Court for the night. Check-in to your room and if you fancy a nightcap, walk a short 10 minutes to the Anchorage Inn.