Glen Walks

The booklet, from which this content is taken (by permission of the author) was compiled in 1999 by Michael O'Brien of Glen. Some of the vistas described may have changed due to the effects of the late Celtic Tiger but they remain some of the best in the world - in the unbiased opinion of the Editor!

List of Walks

Walk One - Glen – Toame – Creevy – Drumlackagh - Lackagh Bridge

Walk Two - Glen - Glengillagranna High – Carnagore – Leacht - High Glen

Walk Three - Glen - Meenlarragh

Walk Four - Lough Salt

Walk Five - Glen – Toragh - Meenformalagh

Walk Six - Lackagh Bridge – Scarvagh – Drumeason – Drumnakillew - Cashel

Walk Seven - Glen – Lurgantrean - Glengillagrana High – Carnagore – Drumdutton – Lackagh – Drumlackagh – Toame

Walk Eight - Glen - Glenieraragh - Glen Lough

Walk Nine - Glen - High Glen - Downies Brae - Lough na Bradden Burn - Drumreen Hill - Dunmore - High Glen

Glen village is maybe seventeen miles (27 Km) north of Letterkenny, with Lough Salt mountain due south, Rosguill Peninsula to the North and Muckish Mountain due West. It is reached by taking the N56 north through Kilmacrennan and following the old Letterkenny-Ards Road over Lough Salt Mountain. This was once the only route to Ards and West Donegal and the old road around by Lough Salt was described by a traveller in the eighteenth century as ’frightful, it being over a narrow precipice with a deep Lake (Lough Reelan) directly below it’. Today this road is tarred and of little consequence to the modern traveller.

The Wrays of Ards kept a watch for travelers along this road over Lough Salt. William Wray sat in his drawing room in his mansion at Ards when he was awaiting guests and trained his telescope on Lough Salt. When he saw his guests negotiating this stretch of road in their horse drawn carriage, he gave instruction to his cook to prepare the evening meal which would be ready when his guests arrived.

An alternative route to Glen would be to continue on the N56 through Termon and "The Gap" (Barnes Gap) and turn east (right) beyond the stone pillars of the old viaduct where the Lough Swilly Railway once puffed gently along on its way from Gweedore to Strabane. This road takes you around Glen Lough through a series of hairpin bends until you emerge at the Old Glen National School at the edge of the village. This building is now a private house having closed its doors to the last pupil in 1970. By either route you reach the village of Glen.

Glen was once described by an ordinance surveyor as "a place of the meanest description, but has the advantage of a penny post twice a week from Ramelton". Perhaps the author of these words was suffering from the rippling of sour whiskey through his belly or pining for his homeland far across the channel in deepest England.

The village of Glen today is full of old world charm and you are assured of a genuine welcome from whatever part you hail.

Glen or Gleneeney (Gleann An Aonaigh - Glen of the Fair) had twelve fairs every year and these were held on the fourteenth day of each month. Cattle, horses, sheep and pigs were the main livestock sold.

There were once four public-houses,  a post office, a hardware store, a police barracks, a bakery, and a forge with two blacksmiths in Glen. Today the only remaining public-house in the village is "The Olde Glen Bar" which can trace its origins back to 1750. Many a weary traveller has stepped across the threshold of these premises and found an old world ambience that has been carefully preserved down the years. This is surely the ideal place to relax and quench your thirst, engage in lively conversation around the old fireside, or simply sit and ponder about the length and breadth of your travels through the beautiful countryside of the Glen region.

All the walks we have chosen begin and end in Glen with the exception of Walk Four. If you are feeling energetic you could combine Walk Four and Walk Five.

For the less energetic, we would suggest driving up the Lough Salt road and availing of one of two parking areas located to the east and the north of the Lake.

Lough Salt (Loch a’s Alt) is a corruption of the Irish version of the name Loch agus Alt (Lake and cliff) and is reputed to be 204 feet deep. Today it is the main source of water for the greater Letterkenny area.

As you return to Glen, on the Lough Salt road, you might like to pause at Pipers Bridge. At this spot Edward Evans was murdered in 1641, betrayed by a servant who signalled to the ambushers by whistling.

There is a happier story about this particular place. Apparently a man by the name of McElhinney came upon a group of men who were about to drown Evan’s daughter in the nearby stream and his intervention spared her life. He later married her and the story goes that they lived happy ever after.

On the road to Lackagh Bridge (Walk One) there used to be a stone known as The Shuggling Stone (Clough na Bogaddaigh) which could be moved with one finger. It was situated on the last bend of the road as you turn down towards Lackagh Bridge. Perhaps the "Sleeping Giant" (a name given to a portion of the Lough Salt Mountain range for obvious reasons) woke up one night and hurled the rock far out of sight. Do not expect to find it on your travels today but instead be consoled by the wonderful panorama of coves and inlets and the towering Muckish Mountain in the distance.

Lackagh Bridge is a single-arch hump-backed bridge which was built between 1755-1756 by William Wray for a sum of £207:16:0

There is a story of a drowning at Lackagh Bridge where an old man fell into the river. A policeman was summoned from Carrigart Barracks to search for the body. Having trawled the river for some time he came upon the body of the drowned man . However that was as far as he was prepared to go with his constabulary duties for that day. Checking that the coast was clear he gently edged the remains of the unfortunate soul to the far side of the river so that the Creeslough Constabulary might take care of the paperwork.

The townlands around Glen are steeped in history and their origins can be traced back to pre-historic times.

In Meenformlagh (Walk Five) Dermot and Grania’s bed is to be found. Legend has it that this runaway couple took refuge here one night and laid their heads on a rock for a few brief hours before they fled again from the relentless pursuit of Fionn MacCumhaill.

On the Carrigart side of High Glen (Walk Two) the road is known as the Leacht Road. It derived its name from the Gaelic word Leacht (monument). There may have been a monument to commemorate a battle or deed in the middle ages but there is no trace of a monument in modern times. The hillside is bleak and is relieved by large stones scattered among the heather. Some local opinion holds that there is a burial ground in this area containing the remains of people who lived there in the middle ages. No trace remains today of their dwelling houses. The crudely built shelters have long since fallen back into the clay from which they were fashioned

As you pass over Drumreen Hill (on Walk Nine) do not be alarmed if you discover what looks like blood on the road. Legend has it that a treasure was dug out of a boghole and fetched a pretty price on the market place for the finder. However the fairies were not too happy that their treasure was stolen and put a spell on the boghole that caused it to weep this blood-like liquid until the day the treasure was returned. The cynics among us contend that the stain on the road is caused by the seepage of Iron Ore that lies deep within Drumreen Hill.

On the site where Dutton’s castle (Walk Seven) in Drumdutton later stood there was a Franciscan Abbey (built in the fifteenth century) which was visited by the Four masters. History does not record if they visited separately or as a group. Four decades later in the rebellion of 1641 the village of Drim was sacked by insurgents and the castle was burned to the ground together with thirteen houses. The remains of the dead were laid to rest in the graveyard nearby which is now concealed beneath centuries of clay. The castle met a similiar fate and today no trace of it remains. The timbers were however used to roof houses which stood on these lands and were inhabited up to 1959.

Also in 1641, a man called Mulrooney O’Carroll was living in Doe Castle and when he refused to join the insurgents he was put out of the castle and it was placed under the command of Captain Donnell McNeill McSwyne. The castle is revered worldwide by the Sweeney Clan, the descendants of whom gather at Doe Castle for a Clan reunion on an occasional basis. For details of Clan gatherings see the Official Sweeney Clan web site

We hope you enjoy the walks listed below which will take you over hillsides and valleys, around lakes and through shrublands. All of the walks are on quiet country roads with the exception of the Lough Salt walk (Walk Four) which is over a mountain track. The walks vary in distance within a radius of ten miles (16 Km) from the village of Glen.

Unfortunately we cannot guarantee the weather (it tends to rain unexpectedly from time to time!). It is said that there is no such thing as bad weather - just being badly dressed for the weather. Depending on the time of year, dress appropriately. Good walking boots and showerproof clothing are recommended.

We can guarantee you a Cead Mile Failte to the area and trust you will bring away fond memories of your rambles in the Glen area.

I am indebted to Dr Leslie W. Lucas for his historical references. I am also indebted to Dr Diarmuid Mee for his help in compiling the notes on the Fauna of the area.

Michael O’Brien

Chairman, Glen Community Development Association

April 1999

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    5.25 Miles (8.4 Km)

    Glen – Tome – Creevy – Drumlackagh - Lackagh Bridge

    Start in Glen village. Take the Toame road towards Lackagh Bridge for three quarters of a mile.

    Take the old bog road to the right (before Toame Quarry) and proceed across the bog for two miles. This was once the main road from Drumdutton to Glen. Horse drawn carriages once rattled along this old road but now it is silent save for the turfcutters in spring and summer and the many wild birds throughout the year.

    Continue for two miles and cross the main Drumlackagh road. Carry on along an old track for a few hundred metres then follow the main road to Creevy (Bushy Land). You will shortly pass the old Aughadachor National School on your right. This was one of the first National Schools in the area having been founded in 1832. The school was closed in 1970 and the pupils transferred to a new school at Umlagh.

    Look out for the secret tunnel hidden among the rocks in Big Bay, which legend has it ran all the way to Drumdutton castle and served as an escape route to the sea in mediaeval times for princes and kings.

    Continue along the main Drumlackagh road and feast on the wonderful views to your right of Doe Castle, Cashel Point and Bishop’s Island.

    At Lackagh Bridge take the road left and back to Glen for one and a quarter miles with fine views of Glen Lough to your right and Lough Salt Mountain in the distance.

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    5 miles (8 km)

    Glen - Glengillagranna High – Carnagore – Leacht - High Glen

    Start at Glen village and proceed along the main Carrigart road.

    Follow the road for one and a quarter miles, passing through Glengillagrannagh High (Glen of the ugly fellow). You might be lucky to catch a glimpse of "the little people" dancing on Carraig a’ Damhsa (The dancing rock). Watch out for sharp bend in the road at McClure's Brae and turn right up a broken track for a half mile until you reach the Leacht road.

    Turn right along this quiet mountain road with magnificent views of Errigal, Muckish, Drim Lough, Glen Lough, Lough Grennan, and the coastline to the West and South. Carry on through the cluster of houses in the townland of High Glen and turn right at the finger post and descend to the village of Glen.

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    5 miles (8 Km)

    Glen - Meenlarragh

    Start at Glen Village and take the Lough Salt road up past Toragh (Towery) along a steep climbing road. Pause to draw your breath at Piper’s bridge and continue up the hill.

    Look out for the odd tree stump poking up forlornly from the blanket of bog - indicating an ancient forest that once covered the area.

    Turn right two and a quarter miles from Glen, just below the final ascent to Lough Salt. Carry on along a quiet old road over heathland and between towering boulders. When you come around the corner you will see a rich green meadow, an oasis among the brown bogland.

    The cluster of deserted dwellings is to your right at the end of the lane is Meenlaragh (Mountain Meadow of the Mare).

    Marvel at the tenacity and self sufficiency of the inhabitants who made a living from the bleak mountain pastureland in former times. Consider the difficult job of the bicycle postman who used to climb the hill from Glen in darkest winter to deliver the mail.

    Fine views of the shoreline to the North, Lough Greenan below you and the townland of Goaldrum. "The Hanging Gale" television series on the Famine was filmed around here in 1994.

    Return to Glen by the same road.

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    4.25 miles (6.8 Km)

    Lough Salt

    Note: This walk takes about two and a half hours and part of the hilly terrain may prove difficult for the unfit. The climb is 360 metres. Don’t be tempted to walk along the eastern shore of Lough Salt since the vegetation and steep slopes are prohibitive.

    From Glen, drive (or walk if you are feeling very energetic) to the car park at the North-east end of Lough Salt.

    Walk south along the Lough Salt road (the lake will be to the left).

    Past the end of the lake there is a pump house (Lough Salt supplies water to the town of Letterkenny) and beyond it there will be a gate.

    Start your ascent through the heather back west.

    Three peaks (at 454m, 469m and 460m) form Lough Salt Mountain. You will reach the main peak in about an hour It is distinguished by its wedge shaped pillar set amid shattered rocks.

    From the main peak continue to the east peak and then cross heather country to reach the northern side of Lough Reelan.

    Keep about 50 metres above the shore and you will pick up a path heading West.

    Follow the path down through turf banks until you find a track that will take you onto the road.

    Continue south along the lake shore back to the car park.

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    Glen – Toragh - Meenformalagh

    5 miles (8 km)

    Start at Glen Village and take the Lough Salt road for about three quarters of a mile.

    At the Toragh holiday chalets there is a road on the left and follow this old country road past the deserted wallsteads of Meenformalagh (Mountain meadow of the hirelings). Travel across bog land through little enchanting valleys. Watch out for the Standing stone and Megalithic Tomb.

    There are many fine stone walls built with huge boulders surrounding tiny mountain pastures. These walls were built long before the era of the Bulldozer and the JCB.

    When you descend a little hill about a mile and a half from the Lough Salt road you will cross a little bridge over a stream. Carry on for a further quarter of a mile and take the track road to the left that will take you to the High Glen road.

    Turn left and carry on down to Glen with a rich panorama of views before you. Try to spot Muckish and Errigal mountains, Horn Head, Ards Forest, Glen Lough, Doe Point and Doe Castle.

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    5.75 miles (9 Km)

    Lackagh Bridge – Scarvagh – Drumeason – Drumnakillew - Cashel

    Start at Lackagh Bridge and walk west. Take the slip road straight ahead. Turn left at the end of this road along the west side of the Lackagh river.

    Follow on past Lough Nagowan

    There is a fine view of the valley and the western shores of Glen Lough winding all through it. To the east is Bunbin and above it you will see the "Sleeping Giant" etched along the peaks of Lough Salt mountain.

    Carry on through the townland of Drumeason with rock land and bog land combining to create a haunting beauty. Two and a quarter miles in there will be a fork in the road. Turn back right through the townland of Drumnakillew and see Cashel mountain in the distance.

    Follow this road for three quarters of a mile through Cashel as far as the main Lackagh/Creeslough road and turn to the right (east) back to Lackagh bridge.

    There are some lovely close-up views of Doe Castle, Doe Point, Big Bay and the coastline all along the North side of the road.

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    6.5 miles (10.4 Km)

    Glen – Lurgantrean - Glengillagrana High – Carnagore – Drumdutton – Lackagh – Drumlackagh – Toame - Glen

    Start at Glen village and take the main Carrigart road.

    Pass through the townland of Lurgantrean with its small pasturelands and rolling hills. Stop at Lurgantrean bridge a quarter of a mile from Glen and listen to the gentle murmur of the Glen River meander its way towards Tome and on into Glen Lough.

    Proceed through Glengillagranna High and on through the townland of Kill. Here rocks lie scattered at random in the fields - by the Glaciers of the Ice Age and have remained untouched by generations as the seasons beat out the life span of the people of the area.

    Carry on through Carnagore (Cairn of the goats) and half way up McClure’s Brae, about one and a quarter miles from Glen turn left and travel along the Cosha road.

    This quiet country lane abounds in hedgerows and trees. At the end of this road you will reach the main Drimlackagh road at Glenree (Glen of Heather or Glen of Kings).

    Turn left and go through the townland of Drumdutton. This townland is steeped in history. A branch of the Franciscans from Kilmacrennan had a chapel here in the fifteenth century. According to folklore, a castle was built here by Thomas Dutton in the seventeenth century. Whether this was really a castle in the conventional sense or just a large house is open to interpretation. There are no definite remains of the castle today.

    Several houses were built in the environs and a small village of several families grew up in the area. This village contained one of the earliest slate-rooved houses in the parish. This house contained a horse-drawn mill until quite recently. The house was occupied until 1959. Now only ruins stand in testament to the past generations.

    In a field nearby legend has it that there was a Pagans’ graveyard where babies who had died before baptism were laid to rest.

    Continue along this road with the picturesque backdrop of Muckish before you and Aughadachor Strand to your right until you come to Lackagh bridge.

    Feast on the wonderful views of Doe Castle, Ards Forest, Bishops Island and Doe Point before turning back towards Glen.

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    3.75 miles (6 Km)

    Glen - Glenieraragh - Glen Lough - Glen

    Start at Glen village and begin the steep climb up towards Lough Salt past Toragh (Towery) and Pipers bridge.

    Watch out for a tarred road about one and a quarter miles from Glen. This road is immediately after the last house on the right before the open sweep of bog land that runs all the way up to Lough Salt.

    Continue down this road that twists and turns over bog land and mountain pastures.

    You cross the Glenieraragh river about a half mile down the road.

    The panorama of Errigal, Muckish, Glen lough, Doe Castle and Big Bay spreads out beneath you until you disappear into a tree lined bower, known locally as the tunnel and was a great meeting place in former times.

    Keep left along the main track through this tranquil wooded area and ponder on the frugal lives of people who lived here in hard times and left their homes to find a better life in America, England and Australia. Deserted homesteads are the only evidence that families once eked out a modest living here in former times.

    This track road will lead into the main road around the eastern shores of Glen Lough.

    Turn right through the townland of Glenieraragh (Western Glen) and follow the road through dense shrubbery and trees along the Eastern shores of Glen Lough and back to Glen

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    10.5 miles (16.8 km)

    Glen - High Glen - Downies Brae - Lough na Bradden Burn - Drumreen Hill - Dunmore - High Glen

    Start at Glen village and take the Milford road up High Glen and pass Bunbin and continue over mountainy bogland along the main road until you reach Loughnatooey about three miles from Glen.

    Take the next track road left across Drumlin bridge and follow the burn road for a quarter of a mile and turn left at the fork in the road and proceed towards the townland of Downies Bar (Hilly part of the forts).

    Follow this deserted valley scooped out of the ground by the Glaciers of the Ice Age.

    Bingrania (Ugly Pinacle) lies to your left and above it Croaghmore. The townland of Glenkeo (Glen of the Mist) lies further West. Continue along this road past Lough Nambradddan (Salmon lake) and travel along Loughnambraddan burn and on past Drumreen Hill.

    The townland of Gortnabrade (Field of the Gorge) and Lough Nameltoge lie to the east of this road. Follow the road until you reach a junction and turn left through the townland of Glassan until you reach the main Carrigart/Glen Road below Umlagh (a marshy place).

    Turn left and continue along the main road for a quarter of a mile and take the left road at the junction up along the Leacht/ High Glen road.

    This mountain road affords beautiful views of Drim Lough, Errigal and Muckish mountains, Rosguill Peninsula, Isle of Roy and Glen Lough.

    Continue through the townland of High Glen and turn right at the finger post and descend into the village of Glen.

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