Pedaling in the park, trekking, shuttles and ring trails: in the wonderful Glenveagh Park you can choose your preferred visit mode. Recommended place for lovers of nature and silence.
Il Glenveagh Park it is undoubtedly part of the things you can do for free while visiting Donegal County. Something tells me that we will still talk about this wonderful area of the Emerald Isle. But for today we will focus on visiting this National Park which, as such, offers thefree access to its visitors.
We clarify immediately that access to the visitor center and the free visit of the park with all its paths do not require the payment of any ticket. You pay instead the shuttle service to the castle and the visit of the castle. During the post I will better explain the logistics of the visit.
Glenveagh Park: what to expect
Arriving in Glenveagh alone is a spectacular journey. The 170 square km of protected area are located as the crow flies between Letterkenny e Falcarragh. As soon as you leave the N56, the barren landscape of the bogs becomes so magical that, I warn you, you may begin to convince yourself that you have seen some Leprechaun. Whether you are coming from the north or south, the signs for the park entrance are clearly visible and will lead you straight to the visitor center.
The parking is equipped for cars, campers, bicycles and buses. Here you can use the bathrooms, observe a model of the park to better orient yourself and visit a very small exhibition. This is where you can decide whether to buy the ticket for the shuttle and for the castle. After the stop, it's time to leave for the trekking in the park! Follow the signs for the departure point of the shuttles and from there you can also leave on foot.
The path to the castle
The main path runs alongside the Veagh Lake up to the castle. They are about 3,5 km flat and from 2019 the pedestrian path is entirely dissociated from that of the shuttles, which in any case cause less bicycle traffic! To get to the castle, without too many stops, it takes about 45 minutes. If the weather is good it is worth enjoying the walk for at least one way.
All the gardens of the castle can be visited without a ticket and are objectively very beautiful and well-kept. The castle is from the nineteenth century, the visit to the interiors shows you some of the rooms inhabited by the different owners with the original furniture especially of the last of these, Henry McIlhenny, who left the castle in 1983. If you too are convinced that you had a life previous experience in such a residence, because the period atmospheres make you feel at home, then allow yourself the visit, which is compulsorily done with the guide who accompanies you room by room. Remember that even in the summer in Ireland the last afternoon admissions are always scheduled quite early, so check the timetables.
Glenveagh Park: View Point Walk
If you are fresh off the shuttle or if the 45 minute walk has not tired you (and if it rains don't be discouraged that it could stop in 3 seconds ...), I absolutely recommend you do the circular path up to the panoramic point, the one indicated as View Point Walk.
You have to go up a bit but the view from the top of the castle and the lake is breathtaking. In addition, it usually also offers a break of absolute silence. Allow at least half an hour for ascent, descent, and break at the paniramic point. To start climbing, start from the courtyard behind the castle where there are also the bathrooms, leaving the gardens on the left and the castle on the right.
Continue until just before a gate. Here on the left the path begins to climb. There is also an alternative path with steps. There are other trails too. One is the natural continuation of the road along the lake (Glen Walk) and it is the one that continues beyond the gate I have just mentioned. The other is a detour halfway between the visitor center and the castle that goes up to a smaller lake (Lough Inshagh Walk). Both are not circular, so if you want to cover them all you must also calculate the time for the return.
Cycling in the park
If you are in bike ride, you can safely cycle in the park.
It is not uncommon to spot deer living within the protected area. I have also had some close encounters. The harder it will be to see theroyal eagleand, recently reinserted in Ireland right inside the national parks. But know that there is. In summer, during the weekends, very often there are cultural and musical initiatives that animate the castle area. And if you get hungry with all the walking, you can take advantage of the coffee at the castle or the self-service of the visitor center, where, among other things, you can also eat very well (Irish standards of course ...). And they also know how to make excellent lasagna (if you really are nostalgic). Enjoy!