Walking the Donegal Camino on the Wild Atlantic Way

Panoramic view of Slieve Liag along the Wild Atlantic Way

​Walking the Donegal Camino on the Wild Atlantic Way must rank as one of life’s great experiences. Where else can one encounter such magnificent and varied scenery alongside the spectacularly warm welcome received in the Hills of Donegal.

Growing in popularity each year while raising much needed funds for its partner charity, Cancer Care West, the Donegal Camino offers the perfect opportunity to explore this glorious Northwest section of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Donegal Camino logo

The 2023 Donegal Camino on the Wild Atlantic Way

The 2023 Donegal Camino took place during a week of glorious weather between the 3rd - 9th of September. Now in its fourth year, this unique seven-day event offered the intrepid hiker various options for exploring this increasingly popular part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Starting out in the most Northernly part of Ireland on the Inishowen peninsula, hopping across to Tory Island for a great evenings hospitality and finishing at Sliabh Liag, in the Southwest of the county, hundreds of walkers took part in the 2023 Donegal Camino.

During the 2023 Donegal Camino a total of 519 walkers took part, with an average of 75 daily walkers. With walkers from Rhode Island and Boston, New Zealand, France, Scotland and from all corners of Ireland, the camaraderie and chats were always interesting.

Fundraising for the Cancer Care West charity was also a primary focus for the 2023 Donegal Camino event. Having raised €76k for Charity during the previous three Camino events, the organisers had hoped to surpass the 2022 figure of €50,000. This target was smashed with a final total of €82,155 raised for the Charity.

Congratulations and well done to everyone involved with this fantastic event.

Noreen, Deirdre, Michael and Peggy on Sliabh Liag
Image: Noreen, Deirdre, Michael and Peggy on Sliabh Liag

Highlights of the 2023 Donegal Camino

There were many highlights along the way during the 2023 Donegal Camino. Friendships rekindled or made anew, chat, laughter and the odd tear shared along the route. The outstanding beauty of the county laid bare for all participants to enjoy, with the glorious weather throughout an extra bonus. Sunrise experienced on Mount Errigal by 70 walkers, and in some cases (we are told) outside of hostelries after late nights of revelry.

The best indication of the success of the 2023 walking festival, were the plans and promises being made at the base of Sliabh Liag as the week drew to a close, to return again in 2024.

And you can still add to the success of the 2023 Donegal Camino by Donating at the Donegal Camino iDonate page

​Speaking after finishing her final climb (of seven!) at Sliabh Liag, along with 80 other happy walkers, Annette Hassett, Operations Manager at Cancer Care West had this to say:

We don’t receive any state funding for our Donegal Support Centre and rely totally on donations and the generosity of the public.

To watch the sheer volume of walkers, the organising of the Donegal Camino Committee and volunteers and the spontaneous entertainment while sharing in the experiences of each of the walkers I’ve met was simply fabulous. All of this coupled with the stunning walks is beyond incredible and we’re so very grateful to each and everyone involved and who donates.

The Donegal Camino is now the leading source of funds for Cancer Care West services in Donegal.

Slieve Liag watchtower with 3D Personnel and Donegal Camino logos

​3D Personnel are delighted to support the Donegal Camino

With strong ties to Donegal, 3D Personnel were delighted to come on board as a partner with Donegal Camino.

The construction recruitment company was set up by two Donegal men, while working in London in 2007. Michael Byrne from Glencolmcille, and Damian Doherty from Letterkenny, combined their talents to form 3D Personnel.

Over the years, while the company expanded, to its current level of 12 offices, spread throughout the UK and Ireland, the strong connections with Donegal have always been maintained. We currently have people on our teams from around the county, working throughout our network of offices. Our newest office in Carrick sits in view of Sliabh Liag.

As such we know the great beauty that abounds in Donegal, along with an understanding of how vitally important Cancer Care West and the supports they offer are to the Northwest region of Ireland.

Noreen D’Arcy, Peggy Stringer, Michael Cunningham, Noel Cunningham and Deirdre McGlone
Image: Noreen D’Arcy, Peggy Stringer, Michael Cunningham, Noel Cunningham and Deirdre McGlone

Donegal Camino founder Peggy Stringer explains the Magic of this Festival of Walking

The original founder of Donegal Camino, Peggy Stringer always looks forward to the event taking place in her native county. Originally from Inishowen, she has long championed the beauty of the county and the warm welcome offered to visitors down through the years.

Peggy had this to say in the lead up to the 2023 event:

We’re beyond thrilled to have 3D Personnel join Donegal Camino as a partner in 2023, which is our 4th Donegal Camino when you include my personal attempt with friends for Cancer Care West in 2020.

A unique walking experience from my home of Inishowen, as a voluntary committee we work hard every year, to bring a new series of unique loop coastal walks, hill and mountain hikes and of course a Donegal Island experience for people to walk and enjoy as part of a fun, exciting week long Donegal Camino walking festival, which always finishes on Europe’s highest sea cliffs, Sliabh Liag.

It combines the best of our beloved county - scenery, worldclass walking, hiking, hospitality, food, music, craic and people, while raising much needed funds for Cancer Care West in Donegal. In bringing together our natural assets, with people, the tourism and hospitality industry and businesses as partners we’re creating a vehicle to increase the awareness of the beauty of Donegal’s walking product but also the appetite to work together to bring better Cancer Care West services to Donegal, which helps cancer sufferers, their families and friends.

All in all, a positive, progressive and evolving project which benefits Donegal on many levels. We’re grateful for all the support we get on all levels including from 3D Personnel.

Donegal Camino founder Peggy Stringer with Michael Cunningham from 3D Personnel
Image: Donegal Camino founder Peggy Stringer with Michael Cunningham from 3D Personnel

3D Personnel’s Managing Director, Michael Byrne talks about our support for the Donegal Camino project:

An event like the Donegal Camino has some fantastic benefits for the county. Firstly, it highlights the wonderful landscapes and scenery available throughout our beautiful county. It provides another platform for showing just how welcoming the people of Donegal are to visitors, while it also helps to develop the walking and hiking infrastructure around the Northwest.

And in supporting the work of Cancer Care West, it is benefitting multiple families in the region during their time of real need.

We are delighted to be able to partner with Donegal Camino for this fantastic project. The 2023 Donegal Camino was another great success, and our team members who took part really enjoyed the experience.

I look forward to helping grow this event over the coming years.

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Video: A recap of the Donegal Camino 2023

Video: A recap of the Donegal Camino 2022

Itinerary for the 2023 Donegal Camino

The 2023 Donegal Camino offered one day, three day and seven day walking options along the Wild Atlantic Way’s Northwest coastline.

A panoramic view of Malin Head along the Wild Atlantic Way

Day 1 | Sunday 3rd September | Malin Head

  • Distance: 16.5km | Duration: 4-5 hours

  • Rating: Moderate to Strenuous

From Malin Head we take the coastal path past ‘Hell’s Hole’ where Star Wars was filmed and onto Bamba’s Crown and then heading south, we take in some of the quieter back roads past the Coast Guard Station and back along the coast by ‘White Strand Bay’. We then climb the roadway over the Knockamany bends which have magical views over ‘Five Finger’s Strand’ before finishing at ‘Lagg Church’ near Malin Head.

A view of Knockalla along the Wild Atlantic Way

Day 2 | Monday 4th September | Knockalla

  • Distance: 6km | Duration 4-5 hours

  • Rating: Strenuous

This linear walk along the ridge of Knockalla Mountain involves several ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ and is quite strenuous in parts. The terrain can be boggy in places and there are some steep sections but the amazing views of Fanad Penninsula, Ballymastoker Bay, Portsalon and across to Lough Swilly and Malin Head make every step worthwhile.

A panoramic view of Horn Head along the Wild Atlantic Way

Day 3 | Tuesday 5th September | Horn Head

  • Distance: 14km | Duration: 4-5 hours

  • Rating: Moderate

Today begins in the village of Dunfanaghy at Arnold’s Hotel. This is a moderate, loop road walk. We will take the road from the village to the look-out post on Horn Head. A definite photo spot. The road rises steadily from sea-level just outside the village to an approximate height of 230mts over 3 km. After taking in the views from the lookout post we will then walk around Horn Head along the Wild Atlantic Way with its spectacular views of Rosguill, Fanad and Inishowen, before returning to the village of Dunfanaghy.

A view of Mount Errigal in Donegal at Sunrise

Day 4 | Wednesday 6th September | Errigal Sunrise Walk

  • Distance: 5.5km | Duration: 4-5 hours

  • Rating: Strenuous

As we reach halfway point on the Donegal Camino, a Sunrise hike of Donegal’s highest peak Errigal is scheduled. Strenuous but exhilarating, our sunrise climb of Errigal is sure to inspire everyone. The walk will begin at the Errigal Car-park on the main Dunlewey to Glenveagh road – east of Dunlewey village. We will take the newly constructed path to the summit of Errigal mountain at 751mts – Donegal’s highest mountain. The climb is likely to be slow as the path is narrow but again the rewards will be great for all who climb.

A view of Tory Island off the Wild Atlantic Way coastline

Day 5 | Thursday 7th September | Tory Island

  • Distance: 9-10km | Duration: 3-4 hours

  • Rating: Moderate

Starting at the pier on the Gaeltacht island of Oileáin Toraigh – Tory Island. From there, this road and track walk initially takes us to the west-end of the island walking towards the lighthouse and back to the village past ‘’Derek Hill’s’’ cabin. We then head to the East-end of the island for spectacular views of ‘Tor-More’ or an Tór Mór, the highest point on the island, approximately 70m above sea level. We then return to the village to conclude our walk and visit to Oileáin Toraigh. We return by ferry to the mainland in the afternoon.

Minte Seisce Valley at Maghera, close to Ardara in Donegal

Day 6 | Friday 8th September | Maghera

  • Distance: 15km | Duration: 4-5 hours

  • Rating: Strenuous

A coach takes all walkers from the Church in Ardara to the starting point which will certainly be a Selfie Spot as we begin at the magnificent ‘’Assaranka Waterfall’’. We take a short walk along a road section before we climb a track which brings us to the top of the waterfall and into the peaceful valley of ‘Minte Seisce’. We will then take the country road through the valley to Stravally before turning uphill towards the top of the glacial valley known as ‘Granny Glen’’. It is simply breath-taking. We finish up back at the “Assaranka Waterfall”.

Panoramic view from Slieve Liag looking towards Sligo and North Mayo

Day 7 | Saturday 9th September | Sliabh Liag

  • Distance: 12km | Duration: 4-5 hours

  • Rating: Strenuous

Today we walk to the summit of the iconic ‘Sliabh Liag’, Europe’s highest Sea Cliffs. A mixture of road, track, and bog this is a strenuous walk but a most rewarding one which is a perfect crescendo on which to finish the third Donegal Camino. Beginning at the Sliabh Liag Visitor Centre we will take the pathway at the back of the mountain called ‘The Pilgrim’s Path’’ rising to a height of 595mts. The crossing of the unique ‘One Man’s Path’ will be weather dependant and determined on the day. We return to the Sliabh Liag visitor centre along the same route.


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How to offer your support to the Donegal Camino and Cancer Care West

You can continue to support this great campaign by sharing this article, following Donegal Camino on Facebook and by Donating at the Donegal Camino iDonate page

Planning is already underway for the 2024 Donegal Camino. Keep an eye on the Donegal Camino website and social media for updates.

We look forward to seeing you back in the Hills of Donegal in 2024.