16. The Steeple

Located just off the N13 close to Stranorlar, The Steeple walk in Mullaghagarry wood is a lovely track that winds it’s way gently uphill to an ancient observation tower. This is a short but stiff climb, but the views from the tower parapet are well worthwhile. A there and back route, it takes about one hour and 15 minutes to complete. However you should factor in at least 10 min for photo opps at the tower.

Getting there is very easy. From Letterkenny, follow the N13 to Kilross junction. Turn right toward Stranorlar and after approx 300m look out for a lane on the left with a small car parking area and a map board. If travelling from Stranorlar follow the N13 toward Letterkenny for 3.4 km where the parking area will be on the right.

Park carefully so as not to obstruct the lane, and off you go. The lane goes to the side of a gate and on through fields until you reach the woodland and a fork where you need to veer left past a Coillte barrier and then steadily uphill on a track surrounded by trees. There are glimpses of nice views to the right as you climb, eventually reaching another junction where you must turn left again and follow the track for another couple of hundred metres. The track now starts to head downhill but don’t follow it as it’s a dead end. Instead, you should now see a gate on your right with a path uphill behind it. Follow this path for 50m to find the old tower.

People assume that the tower was some form of military observation post as it would have had great views across the surrounding area. However, it was probably originally built as an observatory sometime around 1800. You can climb carefully up the narrow steep steps to the top where there are great views to the north, and somewhat obscured to the west and south by the surrounding trees. Descend carefully and then retrace your steps down the hill to your car. Be watchful for the turn to the right early on the return leg. There is no waymark and if you go straight you will end up in the townland of Cooladawson miles from said vehicle!!

  • Trailhead: Beside the N13, 3.4 km from Stranorlar toward letterkenny
  • Facilities: None on site. Good caf├ęs in the Twin Towns
  • Time: 1 hour 15 min
  • Distance: 5.3 km
  • Ascent: 127 m