Bunbeg to Ardara 44 miles/1 hour 26 minutes at 30mph
Bunbeg to Dungloe
When you do depart Bunbeg southbound, and edging slightly east, there’s ample opportunity to stop for a spot of fishing for brown trout, sea trout and salmon along Loughanure between May and September. Continue to head southwest along the coast and before long you’ll reach Dungloe.
Dungloe is another Gaelteacht town, meaning the primary language is Gaeilge/Irish. But don’t worry, everyone will speak English, too. Grab a bite to eat at Doherty’s Restaurant. They serve delicious home-cooked foods and, of course, fresh local seafood from the boats. If you decide to linger here, you can enjoy a live traditional Irish music session in Beedy’s Bar on the Main Street.
With Dungloe as your base, you’re free to explore nearby Mount Errigal, the unspoilt Cloughglass Beach at Burtonport, or take a trip out to Arranmore Island on the Arranmore Ferry. You can even charter your own vessel with Inishfree Charters, and see it all at your own pace. Arrive at the start of May, and join in the Dungloe Walking Weekend, with guided walks for all levels.
The town of Glenties lies at a point where two glens and two rivers converge. The town’s strong links to the sea are explained in the local museum and film buffs might remember it from Dancing at Lughnasa, starring Meryl Streep and Micheal Gambon. Pop into any of the pubs, and the locals will gladly tell you all about their time in the limelight!
In the world of traditional Irish music pubs Leo’s Tavern in Crolly is legendary. This is the very place where singer Enya from Clannad grew up and found her love of music. Inside, the walls are adorned with Enya’s platinum disks next to pictures of famous visitors. Owners Maire and Leo often step away from their duties to perform traditional Irish songs and dance.
Dungloe to Ardara
As you leave Dungloe, keep the Atlantic on your right. We’re told the beach inspector once tried to count the beaches of Donegal, but gave up after the first few hundred as so many tiny coves appear just off the main roads. Golfers also take note: the Narin and Portnoo Golf Club lies a short distance off the route and is well worth the detour.
A landscape streaked with lakes glides by as you continue south. Our advice is to bring your fishing rod. Lakes Aderry, Namanlagh and the River Gweebarra are all fishing havens. The salmon and sea trout season runs from 1 April through to the end of September, and a day permit is required to fish in the River Gweebarra (available from the local shop in Doochary).
Heading south brings you into Ardara, a designated heritage town. Dubbed “the festival capital of Donegal”, you’ll be charmed by the warm welcome you receive in this close-knit community. Check out The Donegal Tweed Centre and discover all about the tradition of hand weaving tweed around the area. When night falls, there are also plenty of holiday cottages and hotel accommodation, so Ardara is the perfect place to spend the night.