The Wild Atlantic Way is an epic, stirring journey – 2,500 craggy, breathtaking kilometres of open road winding along the western seaboard of Ireland – and Rockhill House can be found right here where it starts, nestled in the hills of magical Donegal.
Rockhill House is the perfect jumping-off point from which to set out on your discovery of the Wild Atlantic Way. This is a heavenly HQ for an incredible adventure – and somewhere to really experience the Donegal Spirit of Place that will make a deep impression and stay with you forever. The welcome; the people; the peace; the beauty – it’s the spirit that’s intrinsic to visitors’ love for the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s the feeling you can’t put your finger on that makes you sense you’re not a visitor any more – you’re at home – and Rockhill has it in abundance.
The Estate is perfectly positioned for an exploration of the two northernmost regions of the famous route – the spectacular Northern Headlands and stunning Surf Coast – since all of County Donegal’s principal roads converge on the centre-point of Letterkenny.
Your Northward route from Rockhill House swings along the Swilly at Manorcunningham View, where you can gaze across the lough and stop by the mobile café for refreshments or take a picnic. The view is wider yet if you head on up to the Grianan of Aileach, an impressive ancient ringfort, high on the Greenan Mountain. From there, it’s downhill and on to the lush, abundant Inch Wildfowl Reserve, which boasts a lovely 8km loop walk around the lake with its many and various birds. Then, the Inishowen peninsula opens up to you with its myriad magnificent beaches (Lisfannon, Pollan Bay, Culdaff, Kinnagoe Bay…) and its pretty towns buzzing with activity and filled with great places to take a break. You’ll find the world’s best chowder at Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffin; tasty icecreams at the gorgeous Glenevin Waterfall near Clonmany; famous pink and white icecreams in Buncrana; endless books to pore over in Jones & Co in Carndonagh – and so much besides! There are museum sites to visit, too, including the military museum at Fort Dunree (a captivating site) and the Famine Village at Doagh Island. The first Signature Point on the Wild Atlantic Way is on this leg of the tour – Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head.
Travelling south from Rockhill along the Wild Atlantic Way on the second part of the Northern Headlands route, you’ll encounter quaint villages like rose-lined, riverside Ramelton and laid-back, beachy Rathmullan. Then you’ll find yourself again chancing on some of the world’s finest beaches (Ballymastocker Strand, Portsalon, Downings, Marble Hill…). Along the Fanad and Rosguill peninsulas, you’ll find the waterside Doe Castle, stronghold of the MacSweeney clan; the dramatic Fanad Head and its eyecatching lighthouse (the second Signature Point on the Wild Atlantic Way); exquisite Ards Forest Park with its thick woodlands rolling down to sandy beaches; and lively Dunfanaghy. Following the coast on round, you’ll experience many Gaeltacht areas where Irish is the first language and traditional music, crafts and culture flourish amid extraordinary landscapes. Take a trip from Burtonport harbour to rugged Aranmore Island; relax on the sheltered Narin strand; enjoy the shops, bars and restaurants of picturesque Ardara. From there, your next port of call will be the awesome Sliabh Liag cliffs – third Signature Point on the Wild Atlantic Way. Fishing and traditional crafts such as weaving and knitting feature strongly as you journey further south through the bustling port of Killybegs; beneath the Blue Stack mountains and in to delightful Donegal town with its historic castle and tranquil lake. From here, the Surf Coast presents itself in all its wonderful wildness – journey onwards and catch some astonishing Atlantic waves!
Find out more about the route onwards at www.wildatlanticway.com