Getting through all of Donegal’s Heads

A day trip from Bundoran to Fanad Head on the Wild Atlantic Way

Using Bundoran as a base, much of the North West leg of the Wild Atlantic Way is at your disposal for a day trip. Even to the most northerly of parts. Two of us recently took a day trip from Bundoran to Fanad Head. It’s one of the 15 Signature Discovery Points on the Wild Atlantic Way and one of 3 in County Donegal.

Follow the signs

Setting off just after 10am we headed north to Letterkenny and then followed the Wild Atlantic Way signs from there. Even though I work in the tourism industry I wanted to be a tourist for the day. I wanted see how easy or how difficult it was to be a tourist on the Wild Atlantic Way. The answer… easy. The signs were easy to follow and didn’t send me wrong or confuse me once. (I’ll admit that I can be stubborn and follow signs simply for the fact that that’s the way they are telling me to go!). But no. All good.

A sign for the Wild Atlantic Way between Burt and Newtown.

The taste of Donegal

I’d never been to Fanad Head before and had only ever really been west of Letterkenny before (at Glenveagh). I definitely had not been on the route that runs west of the Swilly so it was a bit of an adventure for me. The first thing that struck me was the picturesque town of Ramelton. A newbie to this place and impressed with the scenery and the “quaintness” as well as the original McDaid’s Football Special bottling factory!

Bundoran to Fanad Head - Ramelton

Heading north

Onwards on our journey taking in Rathmullan and more spectacular views of Lough Swilly and Inch Island. Even though it was very misty, we knew that Dunree Head was sitting looking at us across the river. As we wound through the countryside roads, the Wild Atlantic Way was certainly living up to its name and reputation. Beautiful rugged scenery interspersed with breathtaking views and viewpoints to ensure that every aspect of the route is captured by the curious tourist.

wild atlantic way
A misty Lough Swilly

road to nowhere

rathmullan

Wow!

There were many wow moments as we “drove around the next corner” but one was surely at Ballymastocker Bay and its impressive strand. Equally more impressive was that public toilets were available here and unlocked!

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The signs that Fanad Head wasn’t too far away were welcoming as we were well into hour two of our journey. The signage kept us right even though the sat nav had us “Driving on Ballynalost”! We soon arrived at Fanad Head and the lighthouse which will make an impressive tourist attraction once those works have been completed.

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Hunger and history

As the hunger pangs had begun we moved on and started to head back south but kept to the Wild Atlantic Way. We crossed the Harry Blaney Bridge and found ourselves in beautiful Downings. We stopped to hear some history from a passing local and admire the cannon which had been retrieved years earlier from the sunken HMS Laurentic. It had its unfortunate fate sealed 2 miles off Fanad Head in 1917.

Gun at Downings

The Atlantic Drive took us around Melmore Head offering more stunning Atlantic Views and some of Mulroy Bay.

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Round trip

The Singing Pub was a welcome stop where homemade soup and bread as well as a soft drink was enjoyed.

And so began the journey home to Bundoran. This time going back via Milford and landing full circle back in Ramelton before heading for Letterkenny and back through the Barnesmore Gap in time for dinner.

More Donegal people should explore more of their county. Why not try Bundoran to Fanad Head for a start? There really is so much to see here!

Update – 2019 – the lighthouse is now open for tours and accommodation! Check out my blog here

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