How to find the secret waterfall in Donegal
These days everyone wants to visit the coolest place on earth and find the secret waterfall in Donegal. I’m here to let you know that it is not an easy place to find and can be very dangerous if you are not careful. Ireland is full of stunning waterfalls but the hidden waterfall in Donegal is one of the county’s hidden gems.
Donegal’s secret waterfall is no secret anymore and you may just find yourself with dozens of other adventurous tourists looking for the same spot along the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Largy Waterfall as it is called is just one of Donegal’s hidden gems and there is some critical information you need to have before visiting the secret waterfall Donegal.
Location of Donegal’s secret waterfall
The Largy Waterfall can be found on the Slieve League peninsula on the outskirts of Largy a small hamlet on the R263 the main road that runs from Killybegs to Glencolumkille and is around 30 minutes from Donegal Town. Largy sits between Killybegs and Kilcar where Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick own a home.
On your way to Slieve League, you will pass by the Largy Viewing point where you can see some spectacular views of the Atlantic.
The secret waterfall is in a small roofless cave on the coast and flows directly to the North Atlantic from the cave. The cave and its waterfall are on private property.
Parking at Donegal’s Secret Waterfall
There is parking available at Largy Viewing Point but spaces are very limited. Under no circumstances should you park anywhere on the road if you can’t find a spot at the Viewing Point you will have to try another time.
If you do manage to get a spot take a moment to enjoy a coffee at the Coffee Pod while enjoying the views or even watching the sunset from the point.
You can also grab a great coffee at Cookeys which is near the private laneway to the Waterfall.
Tips for visiting the secret waterfall in Donegal
The secret waterfall is a short distance south of Largy Viewing Point and the easiest way to access it is via a private laneway. The entrance to the lane is around 250 metres north of the Viewing point toward Fintra Beach.
You need to be very careful walking this stretch of the R263 as there is no pathway and it is a steep part of the road which gets extremely busy.
Check the tide times
The Largy Waterfall can only be seen when the tide is out so it is imperative that you check the tide times to ensure you have plenty of time to walk to the waterfall, take your Instagram shots and get out before the tide comes in. Give yourself at least several hours to get to and back from the Waterfall.
The walk down to the Largy waterfall is usually very slippery and wet so wear good hiking boots and appropriate clothing. Once inside the cave, you will feel the dampness and the rocks will be incredibly treacherous for walking on.
Access to the Fields and finding the secret waterfall
The owner of the land where the waterfall is gives permission to visitors and you can see on the gate there are signs about them not being liable for injuries, keep your dogs on a leash and don’t sit on the gate. Make sure the signs for access are on the gate before you enter and also make sure the gate is closed behind you and leave no trace so pick up any dog waste and take your garbage with you.
When you’re through the gate, it’s just about 300m to the coast path. It will take you around 8 minutes to get to the beach area and then the walk will take you around 20 minutes to get to the waterfall. At this point, if you haven’t checked the tide times, please do so and take heed to the safety warnings above. There is no path and the rocks are incredibly slippery so be careful.
Places to visit near the Largy Waterfall
On your way to the Donegal secret waterfall, you will more than likely pass through Killybegs. Thanks to its very deep harbour you can see many cruise ships sail into the town. Because it is a fishing port you can often catch the waft of stinky fish from the processing plants on the way into town. But the smell quickly dissipates once you get into the town itself.
On your drive into town from the N56 which leads you along the Wild Atlantic Way through Donegal Town, you will spot some beehive huts or little cells. These are reproduction Clochán huts. The Clocháns are round dry limestone huts that were very common in early Irish settlements as they were easy to build and used by the monks who built them.
According to the Annals of the Four Masters, Killybegs was attacked by the notorious Irish pirate Grace O’Malley (of Galway) and her crew in 1513 when the men of the village were off fighting. Killybegs was the chief port of Tír Chonaill in the sixteenth century when the O’Donnell chieftains were known as the “best lords of fish in Ireland”.
Don’t forget to stop at the Seafood Shack on the harbour you can’t miss it but it’s the perfect place to enjoy some award-winning chowder or some fish and chips.
Fintra beach is one of the finest beaches in Donegal (and it has many) it is a registered blue flag beach just past Killybegs. You drive down a steep hill to a small parking lot which opens up to a vast golden sand beach which is immensely popular with the locals here. It is a fine swimming and sea sport beach with a lifeguard during the summer season. You will see horseback riding on the beach and many walkers just enjoying the environment on one of my favourite beaches in Donegal.
Kilcar is a small village in the Donegal Gaeltacht, a beautiful place with views to die for and home to Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker when in Ireland. The area has unspoilt beaches, superb walks, and megalithic tombs, and offers great craic in its traditional pubs.
Continuing on from the secret waterfall at Largy and Kilcar you head to the Muckross Head Peninsula. There is no charge for this viewpoint and there is a car park at the end of the head. Follow any of the several footpaths that will lead you out to the edges. Muckross is an unusual area and a very popular climbing location. The rocks are comprised of horizontally layered sandstone layered with mudstone that has eroded faster and produced the overhangs that climbers love.
A must-stop on your way to Slieve League the Rusty Mackerel Irish pub offers fantastic food, fabulous traditional Irish music sessions and great conversation and craic.
Teelin is the place to go to catch a boat tour around Slieve League. Teelin is another Gaeltacht village located at the northwest end of Donegal Bay. The village is famous for fishing, traditional music and scuba diving.
Slieve League Cliffs
Killybegs has always been considered the gateway to the Sliabh Liag cliffs. Ireland’s highest sea cliffs on the Island these cliffs right to 1,972 feet. The panoramic views overlooking Donegal Bay are only 12 miles from Killybegs and during the cruise season, there are many day-trippers visiting the area. Slieve League is nearly three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher and currently are still FREE to visit.
The spectacular land and seascape of Glencolmcille draw visitors to the area. A haven of peace and quiet, dramatic glens and cliffs and the roar of the sea crashing on the shores Glencolmcille has something for everyone including a historic Folk Village.
If you want to see more of the Wild Atlantic Way coast keep driving up to Malin Beg and Silver Strand beach which is one of the finest beaches in Donegal. The light changes every second creating photographic opportunities and exploring the area brings with it some physical challenges such as the nearly 200 steps down to Trá Bán or Silver Strand beach just past Glencolmcille.
These days the secret waterfall in Donegal is no longer secret and many tourists have found their way there. It is, however, a striking spot to visit and the views from the Largy viewpoint are pretty damned stunning if you get the chance you should make a stop and enjoy a great coffee.
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