Ah – you want a beach on your holiday? Then Donegal is the place for you! Donegal has this nice crinkle-cut edge to the county which has left us with more beaches than any other county in Ireland!
There are loads of beaches in Inishowen; you could spend a week exploring them! No matter what time of year you are here we would recommend a run out to the seaside – you may not be sipping pina coladas while tanning, but a good walk and some seriously fresh air can be just as good for the soul! Three of our beaches here are Blue Flag beaches; they have met international high standards for water quality and have lifeguards on duty in the summer months for swimmers. They are at Culdaff, Lisfannon and Shroove. To help you explore I’ve done a quick overview of them here.
Shroove beach is a very small, sheltered cove – close by a lovely old lighthouse. Our local wildlife ranger tells me he often sees porpoises here on calm days, so bring your binoculars if you’re coming this way! From this beach you can find the signed access to the Inishowen Head Loop walk, which is an 8km coastal walk that uses old bog roads and quiet lanes.
Culdaff beach is quite possibly the most popular beach in Inishowen, and on a nice summer’s day you may seriously struggle to find space in either of it’s two carparks – yet another reason to choose cycling over the car! This beach consists of one long, beautiful strand with dunes behind, and then has another second, much smaller cover beyond that. The long strand is ideal for walks or swimming, and this is where the lifeguard is on duty. This beach is also popular for fishing, bait and tackle is sold in the village. The smaller cove is favoured in summer by those with very small children who won’t be swimming, and in the autumn is where the surf hits Culdaff.
Lisfannon is tucked in between Bunucrana and Fahan, with the carpark signed from the main road. This beach is on the banks of Lough Swilly, so while it’s still tidal it has a different feel to those which open right onto the Atlantic. The water is calmer here, and there are great views across to Rathmullan and Ramelton on the far side of the Lough. This is a great spot for beach-combing; as this isn’t a beach with pounding surf, empty shells which are washed ashore don’t get smashed up. You can find a lovely mix of shells here – plenty of fun for wildlife lovers!
Don’t forget – there are loads of other beaches too! These are just the Blue Flags; most beaches in Inishowen have very good water quality so just be aware that the reason a beautiful beach doesn’t have a Blue Flag may be because it’s not suitable for swimming, so be very careful if you decide to go for a dip anyway as some spots have serious currents. I’ll follow this post up next week with a quick look at some of our other great beaches.
If you do spot any marine wildlife while you’re exploring the coast please do report it to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. And take pictures! Those guys love pictures.