Ireland's Great Drives: The Glengesh Pass, Donegal
Kicking off a new series for motoring and sight-seeing enthusiasts alike, we draw your attention to the Glengesh pass between Ardara and Glencolumbkille in Co Donegal.
Say what you want about cycling – and the sport has been beset by scandal after scandal over the past 15 years – but one thing it does better than anyone else is pick out the best scenic routes en offer.
Every year the Tour de France brings the Alps and the Pyrenees to our sitting rooms, but scenic mountainous passes aren’t restricted to the continent. The An Post Rás, Ireland’s biggest cycling event, took place last month and one of its most spectacular stages took in the Glengesh Pass in Co Donegal.
Its three hairpins might fall a bit short of the 21 on L’Alpe D’Huez, an almost perennial staple of Le Tour, but that doesn’t take away from the breath-taking scenery of Glengesh (pronounced Glen-ish by the locals).
Apparently four cars suffered clutch failure on the ascent around the time of the Rás visit a few weeks back, so make sure that your set of wheels is in decent working order before making the trip. If it is, then this drive is one that’s definitely worth it.
Taking the Killybegs road out of Ardara you fork right for Glencolumbkille about a mile outside the town and there begins the sometimes slow, occasionally sharp ascent up Glengesh. When you get to the summit you can pull in and disembark to breath in your surroundings - the view back towards Ardara is stunning.
Twenty minutes or so further along and the road dips into Glencolumbkille, where there’s no shortage of spectacular mountain, coastal or cliff-top roads to enjoy. Silver Strand beach, reached by descending 160-odd steps, is one highlight, and Slieve League, sea-cliffs which reach three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher another.