The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined driving route in the world – it stretches from Kinsale, County Cork in the south to Malin Head, County Donegal in the north taking in 159 discovery points which include signature discovery points like the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and Slieve League in County Donegal. The 2,500km drive takes in over 500 visitor attractions as well as 53 Blue Flag beaches, 120 golf courses and 50 loop walks.
As you travel from south to north, the first Discovery Point you’ll meet in County Donegal is the majestic Tullan Strand in Bundoran. A mile of strand awaits you for swimming, surfing, horseriding, running, fishing or just a casual walk as the Atlantic Ocean laps nearby.
From the cliff top above there are scenic views for 360 degrees – you can see back into Mullaghmore, County Sligo and across Donegal Bay to the magical Slieve League Cliffs.
As you begin the Roguey Walk Experience, you will arrive at the stunning Fairy Bridges – sea stacks hundreds of years old and Bundoran’s original tourist attraction back in the 1800s. However, it is believed that as far back as the 1700s locals thought these to be haunted by the fairies with the result of the name “The Fairy Bridges”.
While you’re there, take a seat on Bundoran’s own Wishing Chair. It is said that many of the town’s famous visitors over the years have sat here overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean – from poet William Allingham to golfer Christy O’Connor to Viscount Enniskillen to 10 times world champion surfer Kelly Slater – they’re all believed to have sat in Bundoran’s famous Wishing Chair located at the Fairy Bridges at Tullan Strand.
Wishing Chair Ritual
Legend says it is advised to approach the chair with caution lest the powers of the chair be disrupted. Wishers are advised to sit down slowly holding on to both “arms” of the chair and then pause for at least 15 seconds to take in the stunning scenery that surrounds them – Donegal Bay to their left, Tullan Strand straight ahead and the Dartry Mountains to the right. It is useful to contemplate the figures, possible heroes and heroines who may have sat in the chair in the years and the centuries ahead of them, before making their wish which must be done in silence and kept private to the wisher in order to increase the chances of it coming true. Finally it is believed that tapping the seat twice as you get up will give your final commitment that your wish is a genuine one.
Nearby Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo is one of the Wild Atlantic Way signature Discovery Points. It is from here that you can take in more breathtaking views of the stunning coastline as well as the magnificent Benbulben Mountain which watches over the harbour village. In the winter time Mullaghmore Head becomes home to big wave surfers who are known to surf waves almost 50ft in height which they access via jetski from the nearby harbour. Nestled on the headland itself is Classiebawn Castle, once the residence of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was tragically killed in 1979 when his boat was blown up by a bomb in full view of the harbour one summer’s day.
Further north up the coastline is Rossnowlagh, the next stop on the Wild Atlantic Way and best known for its golden strand and perfect beach and beginner surf conditions. Home to the famous Sandhouse Hotel and the Franciscan Friary, Rossnowlagh is often a retreat for those wishing to “get away from it all” while its “drive on” strand is popular with all beach goers.