Cycling Tours in Donegal
The Lodge at Harvey’s Point is perfectly located to cater for the growing popularity in cycling with a large network of back roads and mountain tracks to cater for the leisure cyclist and the more adventurous mountain biker.
Cycling is an ideal way to get out and experience the countryside and scenery of the Lough Eske and Bluestacks area at a more fun, relaxed pace. Here are a few cycle trails we recommend.
Lough Eske Circuit
This is a 16.5km long cycle with fine views on the way of the Bluestack Mountains and Lough Eske.
At the entrance to Harvey’s Point, take a right turn and follow the lakeside and woodland back road for 3km. At the the end of this road, take another right. This road follows right around Lough Eske. The road rises to offer fine views of the Bluestacks while the old estate walls of Ardnamona flank the right side of the road. The road then descends rapidly, (take caution), before rising again as the route passes through Townawilly townland, with stunning views of Lough Eske, O’Donnell’s Island and Ardnamona House.
At the next T-junction, follow the signs for Donegal and turn right. There is ample time to view Lough Eske as the road descends down for another 1km. Shortly after you pass Barnesmore School on your left, turn right at the T-junction. This is a particularly picturesque stretch of the route as it takes you across an old stone bridge, where salmon gather in the waters beneath. Take the next turn right after the bridge onto an avenue leading up to Lough Eske Castle.
Please take a camera as there are breathtaking vistas along the way but be mindful of traffic. Continue past the ruins of an old O’Donnell castle and follow along right past Lough Eske Castle. At the back entrance gates, turn right, and the next right will take you back down to Harvey’s Point Hotel again.
Route Difficulty: Easy to moderate,
Terrain: Some steep hills and winding descents along the way to contend with but plenty of opportunities to take a break and snap a photo or two.
Bluestack Way Bike Trail
This route is for the more adventurous cyclist with steep climbs and off-road loose gravel track sections to contend with. There are ample rewards though, with some breathtaking views of Donegal Bay, the Bluestack Mountains and a panoramic vista on the final descent back into the Lough Eske Valley.
At the entrance to Harvey’s Point, take a left turn and continue to the top of the road. Take a left turn here and follow the road past Lough Eske Castle for approx 1km. Take the next right and stay on this road for 2km passing an area of green, sheltered farmland and mature overhanging trees.
At the next junction, continue right for 1km until you come to an old chapel on your right hand side. At the old chapel, turn a sharp right and continue on this road as it climbs through the foothills of the Bluestacks. This is part of the Bluestack Drive. The road then descends into forestry and into the traditional hill farming community of Eglish. As the road continues to descend, watch out for a tarred road on your left. If you cross a walled bridge then you have gone too far and turn back up the hill.
This road will bring you through the Glen of Eglish with some stunning views of a remote and rugged range of the Bluestack Mountains. The road gradually changes to a rough stone track and it is advised to walk with your bike for a 1km stretch as the road rises back over Banagher Hill.
Once you reach the track summit, Lough Eske soon comes into view again. This section descends steeply and needs to be free wheeled with extreme caution and the brakes on. At the end of the track, take a right turn and follow the road downhill. Watch out for the turn off to the left after the Famine Pot Carpark, to bring you back to Harvey’s Point again.
Route Difficulty: Moderate to difficult in places. Bring wet gear and snacks.
Terrain: Some steep hills and winding descents along the way to contend with, and a long section of rough track.
The Gap Linear Cycle Trail
This purpose-built walking and cycling trail follows the old railway line which served a Bord na Mona turf extraction facility. It crosses the Owenea River, passes through an area of forestry, and ends at the remote but hauntingly beautiful Lough McHugh.
Route Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Purpose-built path
The Inis Eoghain Cycleway
The Inis Eoghain Cycleway is a 55km loop connecting the River Foyle in County Londonderry to Lough Swilly in Donegal. More than one third of the route is traffic free passing along the Foyle Valley, close to the heart of Derry City and continuing under the spectacular Foyle Bridge before heading through Ballyarnett Country Park. Once at the city limits, the route begins to climb to An Grianán Aileach with magnificent views over Lough Swilly, Inch Island, the Inish Eoghain Peninsula and south towards the Sperrin Mountains.
Route Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Terrain: Hills along the Long Lane coming out of Derry City and a steep climb on the winding approach road up to Grianán Aileach.
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North West Trail
The North West Trail is a 326km circular cycle route through counties Donegal, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Leitrim, and Sligo in the North West of Ireland. Travelling through a wide variety of scenic landscapes, utilising quiet country roads with some traffic free sections, mostly in urban areas. The route enjoys dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean, with scenic cycling in remote uplands and through rural towns and villages passing through the main towns of Enniskillen, Sligo, Donegal, Lifford, Strabane and Omagh.
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