Glencar Waterfall, Ireland

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Glencar Waterfall in May 2014

In May 2014, I flew into Dublin, Ireland, and took a less conventional route around the island. I wanted to visit both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and started my route by heading from Dublin north, I then looped around the northern part of the island, ending up back in Dublin about a week later. One of the waterfalls that is very close to both Northern Ireland and Ireland is the Glencar waterfall a bit outside of Sligo.

Glencar Falls is not far from two of the main thoroughfares, N15 and N16, and so it is relatively easy to arrive at the falls, though you are in a relatively isolated area compared to Dublin. Once you drive to the falls, which involves passing the stunning Glencar Lough, it’s easy to park and then hike to the falls. I do believe it did involve a bit of uphill hiking on the way there, but it’s a short hike. (Just in searching, I guess there’s another waterfall near this called the Devil’s Chimney, also also near Glencar Lough, so you may want to check that one out!)

Directions:

  1. It looks like the most obvious road to the falls might be uni-directional for one part, so I would suggest using the map below to find directions to the falls. (Search Glencar Waterfall on Google maps if needed.)
  2. There is a parking area across the street, and you need to cross the street and head uphill to find the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Glencar Waterfall?

Astellen Falls, Ireland

DSC_1171There isn’t much information on the internet about Astellen Falls, which is found in Glenveagh National Park in northwest Ireland. This leads me to an interesting question that I don’t think has been brought up because there’s so little information about Ireland waterfalls in general. Powerscourt Falls outside of Dublin is advertised as the tallest waterfall in Ireland at 397’/121 m. But after seeing Astellen Falls, I wonder. Looking at google’s elevation chart, it seems that the total drop for this falls might be somewhere around 180 m, which would be closer to 600′. I’m a terrible judge of height, but it doesn’t seem like the visible portion of this waterfall is 600′. Maybe there’s some hidden above? (If anyone’s reading this and they know how to measure waterfalls, this might be a task…)

A few reasons that this has probably not been looked into…First, Astellen Falls is not as easy to get to from a trip perspective. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Dublin to Glenveagh National Park. That also means it’s a relatively isolated, quiet, and yet stunningly beautiful national park. Second, it’s a 4.5 mile round-trip hike to see the falls (which again is absolutely worth it for the scenery), and once you reach your destination, you’re not particularly close to the falls. If you’re into photography, I suggest you bring a lens that can zoom in well. A cell phone camera is not going to capture much here.

The waterfall is beautiful, the park is beautiful, and there’s so much else to see in Glenveagh National Park. There is a castle (which I don’t think I viewed, as I don’t have any pictures), and there’s also a castle garden (which I did walk through). If you get the chance to explore the northern portion of Ireland, it’s definitely worth it!

Directions:

  1. There are a number of ways to arrive at Glenveagh National Park, but the most sensible one would be to take the N56 (near Leterkenny) northwest toward the park.
  2. After some distance, turn left onto R255.
  3. After a short distance, turn left onto R251. (I believe there was pretty clear signage along the way).
  4. To get into the park, you park at a designated area and take a bus to the castle/gardens.
  5. From the castle/gardens, start your hike south along Lough Beagh. After about 2.2 miles of hiking, you’ll see the falls across Lough Beach to your right.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 400’+
Length of Hike: 4.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Astellen Falls?

Assaranca Falls, Ireland

Assaranca Falls in May 2014

I sometimes look back at a waterfall I visited, and realize that it’s suddenly more beautiful than I remember it being when I visited it. I think this is sometimes the effect of visiting too many waterfalls at once. They can tend to blur together. It also often has to do with the conditions around the waterfall. Let me explain further…

The road to Assaranca Falls is a narrow road. It’s definitely not wide enough for two cars to fit comfortably the whole stretch. (In Ireland, there are different letters in front of the road numbers. This can be useful, as it’s often an (unintentional?) indicator of the road width.) In addition to it being narrow, parts of it were unpaved, and it also tended to be rather winding, meaning I couldn’t always see what was coming toward me. This tends to make me nervous because I’m usually driving a rental car during my travels.

So I distinctly remember arriving at the falls (thinking, “Finally!”), and I automatically start thinking about the drive back. For some, it’s probably an enjoyable journey down a beautiful road. For me, it’s nerve-wracking. That’s not to say the road to Assaranca Falls isn’t beautiful. You’ll be treated with views of the ocean (or a bay leading to the ocean, not sure what to call it). And when you arrive at the falls, they are stunning. I arrived when the sun was over the falls, which made it more difficult to photograph. Just take road slowly, and you’ll enjoy the scenery just a bit more!

Directions:

  1. The road to Assaranca Falls is off of N56 on the west side of the island. I don’t seem to be able to find a name/number for the road, so it might help to know that it is between R261 (to the north) and R230 (to the south). If you are headed south along N56, you will pass through the town of Ardara before reaching this road.
  2. I do seem to remember there was some kind of sign. It may have been for Maghera Beach, which you can find by continuing down the road. I think there may have been a sign for the waterfall along the way, but I honestly don’t remember. I don’t recall it being that difficult to find the road that led to the falls.
  3. It’s just over 6 km from N56 to the waterfall along this road. It’s pretty hard to miss once you’re on the road, as there really aren’t many other options to take from there. There is a parking area directly in front of the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~300′ (taking a guess, don’t quote me here)
Distance of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Assaranca Falls?

Powerscourt Falls, Ireland

Powerscourt waterfall at the base staring me in the face (May 2014)

Considering Powerscourt Falls is only about 20 miles outside of Dublin, it is one of the most popular waterfalls on the island of Ireland. I likely saw more people at this one waterfall than at all of the waterfalls I visited combined. And that would suggest that it was extremely busy, which it was not. It would likely be busier on the weekend, so if you want to avoid the crowds, I would suggest visiting on a weekday. And I would suggest going. I had expected the waterfall to be less interesting. Photos from afar do not do it any justice!

First off, the falls is almost 400′ tall, so it is an impressive view. It is said to be the tallest waterfall on the island, though as I was driving through Northern Island, I saw two or three possibly ephemeral waterfalls that might challenge that claim. (Of course, I wasn’t able to stop and photograph 2 of the 3.) I guess I say this not because the waterfall isn’t interesting…it is. I just think there are many more waterfalls that aren’t advertised!

Second, if you visit, you should have some fun trying to photograph this waterfall. There are a number of different perspectives that I think make this an intriguing waterfall. It can end up looking wider or thinner depending on the location! Some of the upper cascades will also appear or disappear. One waterfall can have many different faces!  (You should explore the trails, as I found a different view point for the falls.  See the third photo below.)

Directions:
*The signs usually work well at directing you to a certain place, but as I was following the signs to Powerscourt Estate and Waterfall, I somehow took a turn which led me down some rough road…The way of least hassle would probably be to…

  1. Head south on N11 out of Dublin, which can also be accessed from M50.
  2. From N11, take the exit toward R755. Follow the signs on the roundabout to continue for 1 mile or so on R755.
  3. Turn right on R760, and continue for 3 miles or so to the entrance to the falls. There is a €5 entry fee per person (or something in that range, depending on age).

I would suggest having a GPS available, especially using Google Maps, just in case you get “distracted.”

Accessibility: 10/10 (you can drive right up to the falls)
Height: 397′
Length of Hike: negligible

Looking at the falls from the side

View from further back

Where in the World is Powerscourt Falls?

Glenevin Falls, Ireland

Glenevin Waterfall in May 2014

I’ve posted about a waterfall I found in Northern Ireland (Gleno Falls), so I’m now going to post about a waterfall in Ireland. After driving around part of the island, I’m led to believe there are many more waterfalls than are being advertised. I’ve found a few different websites each containing a few waterfalls (click here or here), but nothing seems to cover the real gamut. And then as I’m driving around, I’ll even see signs for waterfalls, though in one case I decided not to follow the sign because it was an “L” road (which is barely wide enough for one car!). And I have to admit I’m probably not going to do any better, since I only record waterfalls I’ve visited. The moral of the story: if you’re looking for waterfalls on Ireland, keep searching…there’s probably one closer than you might expect.

One of the better advertised waterfalls is Glenevin Falls, which can seem somewhat isolated on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal. If you’re headed to Malin Head, the northernmost point on Ireland, you’re passing near the falls. The falls, at about 50′ tall or so, are a real delight. The hike starts right near a tea room and gift shop, and continues up a nicely groomed trail. It’s a relatively short trail, and you won’t be out of breath at the end. You’ll be rewarded with a great waterfall, and you’ll probably pass some sheep along the way too! If you’re not in this region, though, there are other waterfalls to visit, which I’ll mention later. Because this one is more out of the way, it doesn’t tend to be particularly busy, which can be a great thing!

Directions:

  1. Take R238 north from Buncrana or the same road south from Carndonagh, heading toward the small town of Clonmany.
  2. If you’re coming from Buncrana, after entering Clonmany, instead of turning north to continue on R238, you’ll essentially continue forward on Main Street, following the signs for the Glen House Country Accommodation, which if I remember, also included a sign for the waterfall. (Attraction signs are brown and are very useful for directing you to where you’d like to go). (If you’ve come from Carndonagh, you’ll have to turn right onto Main Street and head into Clonmany.)
  3. After going through Clonmany, you will follow the brown signs and take a right toward the Glen House. (There doesn’t seem to be a road name where the fall is found, so follow the signs.)
  4. The parking area for the falls will be right before the Glen House. Be careful as you enter, as the entrance is narrow.

(Take a look at the map below to get a better idea of the location…If you get lost, somebody will surely be more than glad to help!)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Glenevin Falls?