Bluestack Way

Please do not bring dogs on any section of the Way which crosses private land. If walking from Donegal Town the first section of private farmland is at Owenboy.

County Donegal
6 reviews
Grade Moderate
Length 64.1 km
Time 3 days
Format Linear
Ascent 1230 m
Dogs Allowed No
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
Donegal Town at The Diamond
Finish Point
Ardara at The Diamond
Nearest Town to Start Donegal Town
Grid Ref. G 929 784 / G 736 908
Lat. and Long. 54.65362, -8.11001 / 54.76438, -8.41017

The Bluestack Way is a 65km route through a true wilderness area of County Donegal in the north west of Ireland with great views as it traverses the Bluestack Mountains, a range of low rounded hills. It connects Donegal town with the town of Ardara on the west coast. Along the way the route passes by scenic Lough Eske, and then wends its way across the foothills of the Bluestacks to reach an area called Disert, where there is an ancient mountain graveyard. West of Disert the route goes over rough and remote high moorland terrain between Binbane and Cloghmeen Hill before descending along the Owenroe river to reach a bog road. This is followed across isolated bogland at Meenawannia to reach Glenties. From Glenties an enjoyable stretch which includes a very pleasant riverside walk along the Owenea river takes the route to the town of Ardara. Overnight accommodation options in the populated areas are very good. The terrain of the route consists generally of bog roads, open and often wet moorland, and mainly quiet tarmac public roads. In wet or otherwise unsuitable weather it is possible to avoid the open moorland stretch west of Disert by taking an alternative route to Glenties. The aggregate ascent over the route is 1430m, but other than the stretch up onto the pass between Binbane and Cloghmeen Hill, there are no significant climbs.

Trail Management

Bluestack Way Committee, Email:, Mobile: 087 6734875


In Donegal Town - paid parking in most of the town centre car parks as well as for on street parking (50 cent per hour on street and 30 cent per hour in car parks in September 2022)
In Glenties - free street parking and the car park at the chapel is also free
In Ardara - free street parking and also free parking in the town's public car park (behind the main street about half way down the hill)

In Donegal Town - All services
On the route at Lough Eske - two 4 star hotels serve food and drink
In Glenties - All services
In Ardara - All services

21 kms or 31% of the Way follows local roads.

Map Guides

Map Guides

The Bluestack Way - Bluestack Environmental Group - available from The Four Masters Bookshop, Donegal Town

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheets 10 and 11
Public Transportation

Public Transportation

In Donegal Town: Extensive bus services - Check with Bus Eireann.
In Ardara: Limited bus service Check with Bus Eireann.


Stephen from Ireland

Very satisfying 3-day walk with great variety of landscapes and terrain. Some tough stretches but worth it for the view. Very well signposted and managed. Highly recommended.

Yehuda from Israel

The entire trail seems to be much shorter than the published 65km. It feels as 50 to 55km, which we made in two days. The first day was Donegal to Disert (~22km). The second day was Disert to Ardara over the mountain (~30km).

The entire trail is very well way-marked.

We found the first day having too many busy roads between Donegal and Lake Eske. To make up for it, we had a warm welcome by the Harvey's Point lodge staff, where we had coffee and some rest looking over the stunning view of the lake.

The second day has much more to offer in terms of walking in nature. I am not sure whether this is due to the season (2nd week of August), but a 5km walk along the Owenea river bank (between Glenties and Ardara) has a lot of overgrown and may be found difficult to walk for some people.


Richard from Dublin

Walked the Bluestack Way on 30/10/2014 starting in Glenties town centre heading south and then took the alternative route back towards Ardara. There is a local bus at 9am from Donegal Town arriving at 10am in Glenties. You would then need to arrange collection beside the R262 (G839849) 4.5-5.5 hours later.

There is a trailhead sign in the town and signposting is very good. The initial climb towards Doobin is very gradual but things start to get tough as you head towards spot height 411m. Underfoot conditions are very boggy and wet. Boots and gaiters are advisable. Cloud base was at around 300m that day so the ample waymarkers guided me across the mountain top. OS map 11 and a compass are essential if conditions are poor.

On the descent to an abandoned settlement I spotted numerous lichen and fungi. When you arrive at the ruined building (G868868) it is not immediately obvious where to go but the track is the far side of the building. At this junction you have the choice to turn left towards Donegal Town or right towards Ardara. You could also loop back around to Doobin and make it a circular route back to Glenties.

The walk then continued on through a boggy section SE of Binbane Mountain and the waymarking here was older and took additional time to locate. No need to climb any fences here and try to cut diagonally towards the forest. A decent track then brings you to the road junction beside the R262.

This is a fantastic walk for those who want to get higher into the mountains but need the comfort of waymarkers to guide you. The weather on the day was terrible but this was a training walk and was perfect!!!

18.2kms taking 4.5 hours...number of walkers passed ZERO!!!


Ivor from Down

Very good way-marking. The countryside is unspoilt and magnificent. The middle of May proved a particularly good time to do the walk, with several dry sunny days, great visibility, cuckoos singing in the valleys, and bluebells in abundance.

Graeme & Avril from United Kingdom

We did the Lough Eske to Donegal Town leg this morning. Really enjoyed it and found the scenery stunning.

Arnold from Donegal

There's a great new addition to enjoying this waymarked way in the form of this multimedia app, free to download for iPhones or Androids. All the stories, history, folklore, poetry and anecdotes of the Way are included - a must have for any walkers.

Enjoy this promo video about it - the link to the App is underneath the YouTube video: -

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