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Pocket Guide: Portnablagh Ards Forest Park Hotels

If you decide to base yourself in one of the many hotels or guesthouses Donegal has to offer, you’ll find yourself handily placed to explore the county’s amazing coastal landscape, beautiful scenery and wide range of attractions.

Anyone wanting to stretch their legs and enjoy some of the region’s best rural scenery should head to Ards Forest Park. It is located on the small Ards Peninsula about 50 miles from Donegal Town and, if you have a car, is easily reached via the N56 and N15. Expect the journey to take about 75 minutes.

Hotels Close to Nature

The park sits on the shores of Sheephaven Bay, a broad shallow inlet on County Donegal’s north coast that is well protected by the Rosguill Peninsula to the east and Horn Head to the west. The village of Creeslough and small town of Dunfanaghy sit close by.

One of Ireland’s most beautiful and varied forest parks, it covers almost 1,200 acres and is home to a rich diversity of plants and wildlife. The woods are home to several native species, including ash, birch and sessile oak, and you may encounter otters, hedgehogs and foxes during your visit.

Hours can be spent exploring its sandy beaches, nature walks and riverbanks. When you need a rest you can stop off at one of the picnic points or, if the kids still have energy to burn, at the park’s play area.

There are a number of signposted walks, including an arts heritage trail which is just over two miles long, a nature trail and green trail that are just under two miles in length and an eight-mile long red trail. The trails feature various viewing points where you can stop off for a rest and take photographs.

Hotels and History

Many features of historical and archaeological interest are revealed in the park. These include the remains of four ring forts, a number of megalithic tombs and the Ague Well, which is said to have holy powers. You may also come across a Mass rock, where services were held in defiance of the penal laws once imposed in Ireland.

The southern part of the peninsula was taken over by Capuchin monks in 1930 and the grounds of their friary are open to the public. It can be found off the N56, about three miles south-east of Dunfanaghy.

Around Ards Forest Park

Anglers, golfers and horse riders are all well catered for around Ards Forest Park. There are rivers full of fish, some great golf courses and lots of bridleways waiting to be explored. If you want to build a sandcastle or take a dip in the sea, Blue Flag beaches can be found at Killahoey and Marblehill.

Hotels Close By

The Ards Peninsula is a beautiful part of Ireland and it is well worth staying over if you want to enjoy everything the area has to offer. Check out the accommodation in Dunfanaghy, where you’ll find an interesting mix of hotels, bed and breakfasts, self-catering properties and budget hostels.

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