The fact that I’ve run clinics here since 1990 and never missed a year tells it’s own story. For me Donegal is the most special place in the world. The beaches are jaw-droppingly amazing; the waves are world class and yet there are flat-water lagoons and bays to delight all levels of rider. And the welcome is as genuine and authentic as the black beer! The fact that I run 3 back to back courses is testament to its popularity.
This northwest corner of Ireland is Europe’s best kept windsurfing secret – tell no one! The variety and beauty of the sailing venues will blow you away. On top of that there’s delicious local food, eccentric and ever welcoming locals and wild live music sessions in pubs, which, of course, rarely close.
This stretch of coast picks up every cm of swell from the wild north Atlantic. The waves can be spectacular but the jagged shape of the coast means we can always find a spot to suit the mood and standard.
The wind is driven by depressions rather than thermals. But in the past 10 years, Donegal in September has provided us with 75% of planing wind days. People associate Ireland with the rain and cold. But we have often experienced spectacular weather; being caressed by the Gulf Stream, the water temperature is fine. I have sensitive tootsies but don’t need boots.
We base ourselves in the village of Gortahork which lies 10 minutes away from the ever more famous beach of Magheroarty. And within a 30 minute drive of the hotel, we have a selection of other beaches to blow the mind.
We are the hosts of the Loch Altan Hotel who not only grant us a special rate but also give us a special welcome. The Loch Altan’s breakfast is legendary and their evening bar meals wholesome. However my local assistant, Brendan Hone, organizes an evening social calendar of extraordinary variety and fun.
As with Kerry, it’s a road trip. People drive out with their own kit because we need to be mobile to exploit the daily possibilities. The difference with Kerry is that Donegal has a greater general skills element. Although we seek out waves as a priority, every day I’ll try and do a flat water skills session as well. For example, towards high tide at Magheroarty, the area behind the beach floods, so within 100m you have world class waves and classic thigh deep lagoon conditions – what is there not to like!
Bring your own – and bring a lot of it because the nearest shop is 100 miles away!
Amazing surfing and SUPing for all levels, incredible coastal walks, biking, fishing (sea and fly fishing), golf in Dunfanaghy.
Suggested standard: waterstarting and planing in straps and harness on a sub 100 ltr board. Confident swimming in, around and under breaking waves.
Get a feeling for the delights of Donegal by watching: