The Sturrall Headland: best route, distance, parking, when to visit, and more

The Sturrall Headland is one of the most unique and intimidating ridges in all of Ireland. So, read on to discover the best route, accessibility, and when to visit this remote part of Donegal.

Think of rocky Donegal cliffs and other countless rocks nearby splintering the sea crashing with the waves to form a foam of white in a mouth of blue.

Picture the grey stones that fade from the Emerald green land, the extraordinary coastline, and the enveloping sea surrounding you. You are thinking of The Sturrall Headland.

The Sturrall Headland, known as ‘An Stural’ in Irish, has been deemed “the mother of all ridges”. This outstanding sea cliff is one of the most fascinating, dangerous, and intimidating ascents in all of Donegal and Ireland.

The Sturrall Headland is one of Donegal's hidden gems.
Credit: Instagram / @mariusmonaghan

Found along the Donegal leg of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Sturrall Headland pushes around 656 ft (200 m) out to the Atlantic Ocean. This magnificent headland is Ireland’s longest rock climb and has only been completed by a handful of people.

If you are fond of a dare and get a thrill climbing to the summit, read on to discover our review of the Sturrall Headland. We highlight the best route, the accessibility, and when to visit this superb hidden gem in Tir Chonaill.

Basic overview – presenting the Sturrall Headland  

The Sturrall Headland can be found on the southwest coast of County Donegal, forming part of the Slieve League Cliffs. Sturrall is around 600 ft (200 m) above the sea and, at times, can measure only 6.6 ft (2 m) in width.

The Headland sits between both Glencolmcille village and the town of An Port. However, once you take to the rocks, you are a long way from the normal world.  

The Sturrall Headland is the archetypal Donegal coastal ridge, its rocky summit tiptoeing gently away from the safety of land and leaving itself at the mercy of the rugged Atlantic.

Best route – how to get to the Sturrall Headland

Directions to this beautiful part of County Donegal.
Credit: Google Maps

It has been advised that the best way to reach the Sturrall Headland is to travel to the Port, which sits to the north of the Headland and provides a car park and the perfect spot to begin your ascent.

So, when heading for Sturrall, ensure you have ‘Port, Radhairc Na Mhuirlin, County Donegal’ typed in Google maps.

It is an hour and 20 minutes from Letterkenny, where you will travel through Fintown, Glenties, and Ardara en route.

It is an hour and 16 minutes from Ballybofey and just under an hour away from Donegal Town. Meanwhile, Gweeodre is roughly one hour and 17 minutes away.

Outside of Donegal, the Sturrall Headland is one hour 49 minutes from Sligo, the same from Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, and around two hours from Derry city.

Address: Beefan, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Accessibility and distance – tackling the hike  

How to tackle the Sturrall Headland.
Credit: / Colin Park

The Sturrall Headland can be a difficult place to reach as it is located in a rural and remote part of Donegal.

It has often been dubbed ‘Ireland’s Inaccessible Pinnacle’, and you will see why once you first lay eyes on the windy summit that greets you.

The trip from top to bottom of Sturrall comes in at around 6 km (3.7 miles). The ridge can then be climbed in two different parts. One is from sea level to the summit, and the other is along the ridge towards the land.

If you are intent on going the full distance, be prepared for lots of steep walking and rock climbing amounting to a distance of around 2,460 ft (750 m), with the gust of the Atlantic wind swinging you from left to right.

When to visit – wait it out until the warm summer days

The Sturrall Headland is truly breathtaking.
Credit: Instagram / @mariusmonaghan

Unsurprisingly, we would advise that the best time to visit the Sturrall Headland would be in the summer when the wind is quietest.

As it is an extremely steep and dangerous walk, we would not advise you to take this walk in the winter months or when the weather gives for heavy rain and wind.

Be sure to arrive early enough; you may find that the car park at the Port could be full. You want to ensure you have your spot to make the best possible start to the journey.

What to bring – make sure you are prepared for the ascent

Make sure you are prepared before visiting.

The ascent has been completed by a five-year-old boy, but that doesn’t make it easier! Indeed, his journey gives us perfect guidance as to what you need to bring before climbing the Sturrall Headland.

Make sure you have your walking boots and, weather dependent, bring a raincoat, hat, and scarf. On more days than most, you are going to need to keep warm and dry from the bust of the Atlantic and its infamous mist.

Furthermore, for optimum safety, previous walkers of this treacherous trail have used a safety harness and a helmet. It is a very rocky summit, and so this level of gear would be wise.

Unless you are the most experienced of rock climbers, we would advise you complete this ascent with a friend or relative. It can be a long and difficult journey, and therefore the help and companionship would be welcome.

Also, don’t forget a camera! You will want to capture the magic of the summit forever and have something to look back on to commemorate your journey.

Things to see and do – explore the southwest of Donegal

The Slieve League Cliffs are not far from the Sturrall Headland.
Credit: Paul Lindsay / Chris Hill Photographic for Tourism Ireland

While the Sturrall Headland itself is located in a remote part of Donegal, it is not too far from some of the county’s best towns and attractions.

If you complete the trail early enough, the beautiful town of Glenties is only 40 minutes away. You can visit the nearby village of Glencolmcille. Head to the lovely An Chistin in the village for a nice snack and coffee.

Address: Kilaned, Glencolumbkille, Co. Donegal, F94 R94W, Ireland

Further on, head to the majestic Slieve League Cliffs and its viewing platform, which is only a 26-minute drive away. These Donegal cliffs are some of the largest sea cliffs in Ireland.

Address: Slieve League, Cappagh, Teelin, Donegal

Other notable mentions

Mount Errigal is one of the best mountain trails in Ireland.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Gola Island: Gola Island can be found off the coast of Gweedore. The island can be reached by the Gola Island Ferry Service between June and September. This stunning spot is well worth the visit.

Cruit Island: This is one of the main islands of the Rosses in Donegal, not far from Kincasslagh. Cruit is home to great beaches and a stunning golf club.

Mount Errigal: This is Donegal’s tallest peak and one of the most intimidating mountains in all of Ireland. A must-visit in Donegal.

Glencolmcille Tower Walk: The beautiful Glencolmcille Tower Walk takes in some of the most beautiful scenery of northwest Ireland, including the rugged headland and huge cliffs.

FAQs about the Sturrall Headland

What are the most famous sea stacks in Donegal?

The most famous sea stacks in Donegal can be found in Maghery, Owey Island, Gola Island, Tory Island, Marble Hill, Inishowen, and the Bloody Foreland.

How tall is Sturrall Headland?

At its peak, The Sturrall Headland can rise to a size of around 2,460 ft (750 m) tall.

Is it safe to cross the Sturrall Ridge?

The Sturrall Ridge is a knife-edge ridge. You will face maximum exposure to the elements along this dangerous track.

So, the Sturrall Ridge should not be completed in bad weather. However, given the right weather, support, and companionship, the Sturrall Ridge can be completed.

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