March 26

Horn Head – County Donegal

The rugged beauty of Horn Head awaits, just a scenic hour's drive northwest of Letterkenny in County Donegal. Your adventure begins along the N56 towards Dunfanaghy. Follow the signs through the charming village, keeping an eye out for a turnoff onto the main street leading towards Horn Head. After crossing the bridge, a narrow gravel road will beckon you to turn left. Follow this for a short distance until you reach the car park, offering ample space for a dozen or more vehicles. (You might even be lucky enough to have the whole place to yourself!) From the car park, the Tramore Loop – your gateway to exploring Horn Head's dramatic cliffs and hidden coves – begins its path.


Sadly, the full 16 km loop connecting the Horn Head car park to Flaggy Faugher and back is now impassable due to the closure of the McSwynes Gun loop trail. Unless you're prepared to disregard the signs and hop some barbed wire, be ready for a two-part hike.

The initial trail quickly immerses you in a forest of pines, likely the remnants of an old plantation. What catches the eye here is the vibrant moss, creating mounds of green around the tree trunks like natural mulch beds.

Moss Mounds

Emerging from the pines, the trail becomes a mix of forest and grassy meadow. Take note of the many colorful snails along the path with the interesting spiral design on their shells.

Soon you'll reach a fork in the path, where a small pool of water trickles gently. The trail loops back around, so whether you go left or right, the walk itself remains unchanged. We chose to follow the path to the right.

As you break free from the forest and reach the shoreline, breathtaking cliffside views reward your efforts. Here, a sign marks the closure of the McSwynes Gun loop. A flicker of temptation to hop the fence and continue towards the marble arch might ignite, but without knowing the reason behind the closure (safety concerns, private property...), it's always wise to respect the signposting.

Trail Closure

Head back along the beach and enjoy some more marvelous views of the sea and the sand dunes. Had the day not been a bit overcast, it would have been tempting to linger and pick up some sun before heading on. Lingering is definitely a possibility, and the area makes a tranquil spot for a picnic or just a day on the beach.

Beach at Horn Head

Arriving back at the car park, head back to the road and follow the posted signs to Horn Head, where you will reach a car park. Plan to spend some time here and enjoy the boggy landscape, diverse wildlife and birds, and even hike on to the marble arch.

Scene from Horn Head

Depending on how long you wish to stay, plan about 4-5 hours to enjoy the area at a leisurely pace or make an entire day trip out of it.


County Donegal, Horn Head, Ireland Hikes

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Discover more from Visionquest Ireland Travel

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading