The Two Heads of Donegal
Starting in Rathmuallan or Buncrana, these routes are wild and rural. Donegal has some of the best cycling routes in Ireland and these are no exception.
This is a tough two days in the saddle so you’ll need to have the miles in the legs. The routes are rural so lunch and coffee stops are few and far between. Some places only open sporadically so if you’re travelling with a group of 10 or more, it’s best to call ahead – you don’t want to get caught on the hop with no lunch.
And remember, Donegal doesn’t do flat bits!
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Two Heads of Donegal
Route Rating ➤ Challenging
Distance ➤ 180.5 km
Climbing ➤ 2,093 meters
Starting from Rathmullan and heading south, this stage is pure class with beautiful views across Mulroy Bay and Broad Water. Fanad Head is the first head of the trip and the Lighthouse Café is great spot to stop for lunch at the 45km mark. The second half of the stage is tough but gives spectacular views across beautiful Lough Swilly.
Keep the head up and enjoy it.
The road out of Buncrana to Carndonagh is a long drag and can be a tough way to start the day so it’s worth stopping in Carndonagh to regroup before an easy 7km spin over to Malin Village. Although it’s early in the day, the village is the last opportunity to stop for lunch so make sure you take on some food at the small shop or the hotel which does a good lunch.
After lunch, it’s a lovely spin out to Malin Head, the second head of the tour. This section can be busy with cyclists doing charity rides between Mizen Head and Malin Head so be prepared!
Beyond Malin Head, it’s on to the Mamore gap, one of Ireland’s classic climbs. It’s best to take the Mamore from the Cleggan side like the pros do: twisty and relentless, it’s a steep climb up with a long, straight descent on the way down. You’ll be on the brakes for a long time so take care and make sure you’ve recovered fully before taking on the Mamore’s hair-raising descent.
The ride back to Buncrana is nice and gentle so enjoy it and let the legs recover after a tough spin.