Hill Walks

Donegal is a hill walker’s paradise. There are well known mountains to climb and beautiful coastal hikes to enjoy. It is important to note however that mountain areas may have no defined paths in places, and it is essential to have the proper clothing and equipment. These routes are challenging and are for experienced hikers. If you have not done much mountain walking you should not tackle a new route on your own. Ask regular hill walker to accompany you or think about joining one of the hiking clubs in the county.

Clothing and Equipment.

Weather conditions can vary enormously in the Donegal hills! In summer sunshine can be intense on a good day, requiring strong sunblock and light clothing. However keep in mind that you could be wading through heather, gorse and even nettles, wearing shorts! My go-to legwear is a pair of light walking trousers that have zip off lower leg sections allowing me to convert to shorts whenever I want. A baseball cap or rancher hat will keep the sun off your face and buffs or bandannas are really useful as well.

Of course you are more likely to encounter wind and rain all year round so if you want to walk regularly in the hills invest in a good coat (Brightly coloured if possible in case, God forbid, you need to be spotted from the air or by a rescue team) and waterproof trousers. It can be quite cold outside the summer months when you get up a few hundred metres so thermal hats and good gloves are a must. Gators, which are worn over the lower leg to protect against heather and jagged plants, are useful but not essential.

In my opinion all of the routes below require full hiking boots and walking poles as shown below. The boots should have high grip soles and stout ankle protection, while the poles give you extra stability on the often steep and uneven mountain slopes. A good tip for long days gripping poles is to wear a pair of cycling gloves. Much more comfortable!

Hill Walking Routes

These are some of my best loved hill and mountain hikes. Remember that daylight and a comfortable pace are essentials. Rushing only leads to injury!!

17. Muckish.

18. Butler’s Glen Loop, Inishowen.

19. Bluestacks – Lough Belshade.

20. Glencolmcille – Tower and Mast Loops

21. Sliabh Liag – Pilgrim’s Path

22. Melmore Head

23. Knockalla Ridge