Donegal Highpointeering

Dillon’s Adventures were Highpointeering in Donegal last weekend. Patrick O’Brien tells us all about the High Points they visited.


At the start of the year we set ourselves a target of completing three Gribbon Sub lists; The Junior Gribbons, The Minor Gribbons and The Essential Gribbons, all while accumulating metres for 10,000m Challenge for Barretstown. This has brought us some fantastic walking adventures in all parts of the country but due to the travelling distance we have avoided Donegal up to now. Last weekend, having booked The Bluestack Centre Hostel for a couple of nights we set off to close out the required highpoints of Donegal. For our lists, Barnesmore and Murrin were the final two Minor’s we needed to do while Slieve League was our third last Essential to complete.

We set off early on Friday morning and to break the journey we stopped off at Lukes Bridge to climb Benbulben. Dillon had talked about it a few times and was not disappointed with the amazing views from the top.

Within another few hours we were approaching the Barnesmore Gap in Donegal and could easily identify our first mountain.

We parked off the N15 at the start of the mast road and set off towards Barnesmore Mountain. Various accounts on the internet mentioned reaching the top without using the maintenance road with a few recommending following the line of electricity poles to the summit. These accounts must be old as the vegetation is quite high and rough and didn’t look like an option to us. Take care also not to take the first right at an early junction even though it seems a more direct line to the mountain, or even a second, instead keep going until you pass a working quarry on the left hand side and the correct route is a sharp right here. After about 3 Km take another sharp right heading in the direction of the summit. This route to the top is between 6 and 7 Km. Reaching the top the views were amazing in all directions and we had no bother logging our visit on Peakhunter. We decided then to head down the short but steep side to the N15 below. This was fast but took a bit of work and care to make our way through the heather. Another issue with this “short cut” was having to cross the Lowrymore River which ran parallel to the N15, something else we didn’t see from the top.

Having cut the distance by more than half we returned safely to the car, but with wet boots and as a result we wouldn’t recommend the short cut to any future walkers. Having enjoyed brilliant weather for the walk we could quickly see that luck was on our side because about ten minutes in the car toward the hostel we met torrential rain.

Saturday was wet and misty but the forecast promised a good afternoon so we waited till after dinner to head towards Teelin and the Pilgrim Path for Slieve League. On the journey the skies brightened more and more and we enjoyed great views of Benbulben across the water from Killybegs as we travelled. The Pilgrim Path is an alternative route to Slieve League and although it doesn’t bring you all the way, there are stones painted yellow to guide you to the cliff edge and from there it was “The One Man’s Path” to the summit. Again we had fantastic views as we took pictures and logged the highpoint visit on Peakhunter. We returned via the same route which seemed a popular choice by many that evening.

On Sunday we turned for the direction of Fanad Head via a very scenic drive through Glenties. Take a look at the interesting inscription we saw on one mountain on route.

We were pleased that we were able to drive right to the mast compound leaving just a short very steep trek to the summit of Murren Hill.

Views were outstanding from here again even from a relatively low height. We took some time getting pictures and logged our final Minor Gribbon on Peakhunter before returning to the car.

Even though it was not on our chosen lists we also climbed Knockalla before leaving Donegal for home. Knockalla has a SW and NE top both at the same height with the beautiful Knockalla lough sitting between the two. Completing both tops we did a circuit of the lough and were astonished with the view that was changing and getting better every couple of steps.

More pictures on Dillon’s Blog:

The driving for the weekend topped 1,000Km but it was well worth it to complete the Minor List and bring our total number of Metres to almost 20,000 with 36 unique Gribbon Locations logged already this year. We aim to complete another “Essential Gribbon” at the other end of the country this weekend and are looking forward to it already.

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