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Donegal: Top 5 alternative activities

From horseback riding along Tullagh Bay to scaling vertiginous sea stacks in Port Village, there's a wealth of alternative activities to try in Donegal

Donegal: Top 5 alternative activities
Horseback riding, Tullagh Bay. Image: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi

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1 Horseback riding, Tullagh Bay 
Gallop across Tullagh Bay, an unspoilt beach set along Inishowen’s northern coast. The affable Devlin family welcome riders with hard hats, leather boots and strong cups of Irish tea. Astride a Connemara steed, it’s a liberating clip-clop along bridleways and over pillows of grass-streaked dunes to reach the foaming ocean.

2 Scaling sea stacks, Port Village
Port Village appears a misnomer — it has no port or village, only ruins of an abandoned settlement. Follow local guide Iain Miller down scree-strewn slopes to find a hidden cove ringed by sea stacks. Daring the vertiginous ascent involves a harness and gripping to craggy ledges. It’s worth the risk as views from the top are fantastic. 

3 Angling, Lough Eske 
Cast a line into deep waters leaping with spring salmon, char and sea trout. During the fishing season, Lough Eske Castle can organise permits and boat trips to explore the lake, the River Eske and its tributaries, with the Bluestack summits serving as a scintillating backdrop. Afterwards, head to the hotel’s Solís Spa for a restorative hot-stone massage.

4 CruisingDonegal Bay
No need to break a sweat: the 75-minute Donegal Waterbus chugs around the islets of Donegal Bay to take in monastic ruins, oyster farms and hidden coves before the aptly-named Seal Island comes into view. The crew are a knowledgeable bunch bursting with titbits of local lore and even the odd singalong.

5 Sea caving, Inishowen 
Head to Inishowen Head, where instructor Bren Whelan leads you along a knife-edge ridge to a hidden beach. After abseiling 100ft down the cliff face, the real buzz begins: hopping between rapid-licked boulders and clawing along walls to reach Pigeon Cove. From here, it’s a little coasteering then a cliff climb back to safety.

Published in the Donegal 2017 guide, distributed with the September 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)