Errigal & The Dunlewey River, County Donegal

Errigal (2466ft) is the tallest peak in the ice-carved Donegal Highlands. With its furrowed sides and the white screes of broken quartz it is far and away the finest of all conical mountains in Ireland. It is best approached by way of Dunlewy and one way up is as good as another. There are, in fact, 2 tops of Errigal a quarter of a mile apart. Between them runs the narrow, giddy One Man’s Path. On a clear day the view from the highest point – no bigger than a little table – is gloriously wild. Immediately below are the immense tracts of rolling moorland, the quarry called The Poisoned Glen (because of the spurge which supposedly poisons its waters) and the Slieve Snacht range. Beyond are the many lakes and hills of Donegal, and all the lovely indented coastline. Knocklayd in Antrim, and Benbulben in Sligo are hints on the horizon.

 

But it is the view of Errigal itself, in its blaze of white and blue, that draws the visitor and the artist. “He’s pulling Errigal”, explained one Donegal child to another watching an artist at work sketching the peak. The puzzled artist suddenly remembered that the child was a Gaelic speaker for whom the alien words “drawing” and “pulling” were synonymous.

 

The hard quartzite rock, in contradistinction to the softer granites and shales, has given bold and lasting outline to peaks like Errigal, Muckish, or the Great Sugarloaf of the Wicklow Mountains.

 

Errigal is a hidden gem that is a worth a visit on your Ireland tours.