30. Inishowen Head

This loop walk of approx. 9 km offers a good stiff climb followed by excellent views both of the north coast and the Foyle estuary with Co. Derry on its far shore. A short stretch of tarmac at the beginning gives way to mountain track for much of the route and though it can be walked in either direction, I chose to go anti-clockwise and also to start from the Stroove beach car park rather than the Inishowen Head one as shown in the brochures. I feel this gets the climb over while you are fresh and your walk has the head itself near the end.

To get to the start point head to the port of Greencastle north of Moville. Continue northward out of the village past the golf club on your right and after a couple of km you will see Stroove lighthouse (or Shroove as my mother’s family called it) and beside it is a carpark serving the lovely small beach. Park up here and then turn right to walk up an incline to a junction. Here you will ignore the signs pointing right to Inishowen Head and turn left to begin the loop.

Continue along a narrow road with plenty of houses for 800 m until you see a road to the left with a waymark post. Turn left here and begin to climb steadily past a few houses. As you reach a set of farm buildings the road ends and another waymark sends you straight on up a track. You now continue to climb into the hills above Stroove, not forgetting to look back at the lovely views over the Foyle to Benone and Magilligan Point.

Navigation is easy from now on. Stick to the track over the summit and down to where the route curves to the east (Right). Ignore a left turn after this and in 50 m you will see a waymark pointing right that brings you south eastward with beautiful views out across the sea on your left. Presently, you will come to Portkill (Port Cille). Legend has it that St Colmcille established a small community here on the shore before finally departing for the island of Iona in Scotland. There is a small shrine and seating for a rest although you are not far from home now. About 500 m further on you pass the Inishowen Head car park and the old lookout building over on the head itself. From here you can see the lighthouse and hopefully your car below. A pleasant downhill stroll on tarmac brings you back to the junction from where you started.

  • Trailhead: Beach car park at Stroove, north of Greencastle.
  • Facilities: A few nice pubs and restaurants in Greencastle.
  • Waymarking: Black posts with purple arrows on yellow discs.
  • Distance: 9 km
  • Time: 1 hr 30 min to 2 hrs 30 min depending on pace.
  • Ascent: 309 m
  • Terrain: Some tarmac at the start and end. Mostly gravel track.