Head out to the northwest coast and you will discover an Irish speaking world in County Donegal, where the rugged coastline of the Inishowen Peninsula withstands the force, yet is shaped by, the might of the Atlantic Ocean. With sheltered sandy beaches in picturesque bays, the peninsula has a tremendous maritime history while in the southwest of the county is the Glenveach National Park. The park is home to a large herd of red deer and the ominously named but euphorically beautiful Poisoned Glen, a marshy valley with dramatic cliffs.
Further south still are the Blue Stack Mountains, which you can traverse on the 65km Bluestack Way walking trail, the county town of Donegal and the sweeping beaches in Donegal Bay, known for excellent surfing around the town of Bundoran.
Things to do
1.Go to the beach! With 12 Blue Flag Beaches in Donegal, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Try Ballymastocker Bay, Fanad, Ballyness Beach, Buncrana, Bundoran, Downings Beach, Fintra Beach, Five Fingers Strand, Kincasslagh Beach, Kinnagoe Bay (Inishowen), Magheroarty Beach and Marble Hill Beach.
2.Go surfing. The towns of Dunfanaghy and Downings have surf schools offering lessons in windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding and surfing, with a qualified coach. In Ballyshannon is the Lakeside Centre on the banks of Lake Asseroe, where you can camp and try a host of watersports.
3.Listen to live music in Ireland in one of the bars and hotels in most towns. As well as traditional Irish music and some nifty fiddle playing you’ll find rock and pop tribute bands, depending on the night and the venue. When you visit Ireland don’t get worried if the hotels and bars look shut. Appearances can be deceptive, so just open the door and step inside for a warm Irish welcome, peat fires, music and a good craic.
4.Play golf among the beautiful sand dunes of Donegal. Within the Inishowen peninsula you’ll find world class golf courses such as Ballyliffin (Glashedy) and Ballyliffin (Old). Dunfanaghy Golf Club is just west of here. Just outside Donegal Town is Murvagh golf course and in Downings, near Carrigart, you’ll find Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) golf course.
5.Go horse riding in Donegal as part of your caravan holiday in Ireland. Canter on the golden sands of Killahoey beach, in Sheephaven Bay, on the north Donegal coast, with the riding school tucked away behind Arnold’s Hotel in Dunfanaghy. Trekking opportunities also abound, such as Trekking the Great Famine Track, the route families took across the bogs and wilderness to emigrate and find work and food more than 150 years ago. Another themed route is a three-hour ride along Donegal’s former railway track, beneath Muckish Mountain. Lenamore Stables in Muff also offers riding lessons, hacking and birthday parties.
Take your caravan to Ireland by ferry, then drive to Donegal. When towing a caravan in Ireland, we’d advise you to use mainly motorways and N roads until you’re close to your destination.
If you live in the North of England, choose a ferry to Belfast, then drive along the Antrim coast, going west for County Donegal.
Stena Line sails from Cairnryan to Belfast or Liverpool to Belfast routes, which are the best routes if you’re coming from the north of Britain. If you’re travelling to Ireland from Wales, choose Holyhead to Dublin Port. Stena Line also operate between Fishguard and Rosslare, in the southwest of Ireland, should you be looking to tour throughout Ireland.
Irish Ferries also operates between Holyhead and Dublin, along with Fishguard and Rosslare.
P&O Ferries sail from Liverpool to Dublin and Cairnryan to Larne, in Northern Ireland.
Ferry deals are often listed on www.aferry.co.uk.
Where to stay
There are campsites and touring parks all across Ireland, many of which are members of the Irish Caravan & Camping Council. These can range from parks suitable for visiting Ireland’s great towns and cities, or parks with exceptional rural or coastal views.
Caseys Caravan Site, Killybegs Holiday Park, Boortree Touring and Rosguill Holiday Park are all members of the Irish Caravan & Camping Council. Another lovely site with direct access to the beach at Rosbeg is Tramore Beach Caravan and Camping Park.
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With sheltered sandy beaches in picturesque bays, the peninsula has a tremendous maritime history