Malin head is the most northerly point of Ireland and has some of the most amazing scenery. I say that about almost everywhere, but damn Ireland has some jaw-dropping landscapes. If you want to see waves hurling themselves at jagged cliffs, green lush hills, gold-sand beaches and rocky mountains, Malin head in Donegal is where you want to go.
What to see / things to do at Malin Head Donegal
Banbas crown is the area of Malin Head right where you park.
There is a lower car park which now has proper toilets (amazing!- it used to just have 2 portaloos!) and up a short path there is another small car park right at the crown. On a nice day you might find a coffee or food van at the top.
At this point you’ll come across the old signal station dating back to the 1800s. On a good clear day you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Scottish hills across the North Atlantic too.
If you look down from the tower, you’ll see the old “80 Eire sign, from back in war times, used as a landmark for pilots passing over. The area is also home to one of Ireland’s most important weather stations.
From Banbas Crown, you can walk along the coast by a gravel path and head out west along the coast. It’s well worth the walk so wrap up well against the wild Atlantic winds and prepare for a awe-inspiring walk.
A weird name I must admit although that may be my crude sense of humour. By continuing along the path, passed the jagged rocks and swirling waves you’ll come to “Hell’s Hole”. This is a 30m deep fissure where the ocean crashes itself at the rocks.
Continuing on from here you will arrive at the Malin Head Viewpoint:
Malin Head Viewpoint
Although not the most northerly point, the viewpoint is the real treat when visiting Malin head. At the end of your walk you will come to the most insane, huge rocky cliffs which literally just drop down into the raging waters below.
This is the most amazing place to witness sunset. I was there on new years day 2019 and as the sun sunk slowly below the horizon it left an orange glow on the area. If you can get there for sunset definitely do!
When you pull up at the car park you may not even realise this insane view is just 15 minutes walk away so definitely take the walk along the coast to reach this point.
Other important events you may experience at Malin head – if you’re lucky!
Star Wars – May the 4th Be With you in Donegal
Malin head, and the rest of Donegal, holds huuuge significance for all the star wars fans out there (I am a new star wars fan and pretty excited about it!). Malin head is just one of the locations in Ireland used for filming “The Last Jedi”.
In fact, the millennium falcon was actually built at Malin head for filming.
To celebrate this, the main road to Malin head (originally R242) has been renamed to “R2D2” which is pretty fun I think! So, if you’re passing by you might as well hop out of the car and get a picture by the sign!
The “May the 4th be with you” festival is highly celebrated in the area due to the Star Wars universe coming to Ireland. If you are in the area on this day, you might just see some stormtroopers taking a spin through Malin head and the nearby towns.
There is a Star Wars tour of the area. For more information go through to the website.
The Northern Lights – Amazing Malin Head Attraction in Donegal
I’m pretty sure seeing the northern lights is on every bodies bucket list. Well, this magical light show is known to pass over Malin head during the right conditions.
I haven’t seen it yet but I full on intend to witness it and will be heading to Malin head at every chance I get when the conditions are right!
There are some Apps out there to keep an eye out for the right conditions for the northern lights in Donegal!
The History of Malin Head
Malin head has a rich history and the area was very useful in war times.
The signal tower was originally built as a lookout in 1805 by the British, to keep watch for French invaders during the Napoleonic wars. This is very similar to the one on Valentia Island which was built for the same purpose.
The watchtower was used in both WW1 and WW2 and has concrete bunkers. During world war 2, the area was monitored 24 hours a day.
From 1902 the area by the tower was also used as a means to communicate with ships off the coast, with a signal station built nearby.
The “Eire” sign also dates back to WW2. The sign was created using stones, which were painted white, used for pilots flying over the area. This sign was to indicate that they were flying over neutral Ireland. The number 80 refers to the watchtower number, which you guessed it- was number 80! This area was recently restored.
Inishtrahull – for Geology Nerds!
The inner geologist in my finds it incredibly interesting, that on an island just 5 miles northeast of Malin head is the island of Inishtrahull. This island is made up of the oldest rocks in Ireland – at 1780 million years old!
Where is Malin Head & How to get there
Malin head, as I’ve said is the most northerly point and is on the Inishowen peninsula. It is 16 km north of Malin town. You will want to be driving to reach it and many tours also visit this significant location.
The weather and how to prepare for Malin head
As you can imagine, being at a location completely exposed to the Atlantic sea, the area is subject to crazy fierce winds most of the time. The weather can definitely get wild – it’s called the wild Atlantic way for a reason! The wind can get up yourselves and to your ears and can be bitter so you’ll want to be prepared for that. I would suggest:
- A windproof and waterproof jacket
- A hat that covers your ears
- Comfy and waterproof walking shoes
The area is also on marsh and bog land so it can get pretty waterlogged. I have visited the area both very prepared for the weather and very unprepared. Not dressing appropriately can really dampen your visit (literally!) as you’ll be jumping from foot to foot trying to stay warm and will be completely terrorized by the wind out at Malin head viewpoint. Take it from me!
Places nearby Malin Head to Visit:
- 5 finger strand / Lag : An amazing beach sandwiched between sand dunes and Trawbrega Bay across the water. Along here are some of the largest in sand dunes in Europe, reaching unto 30 meters in height. A great place to view from is Knockamany bends which has a small parking area looking out over the area.
- Five Finger Strand is located right along the main road from Malin village to Malin Head.
- Carrickabraghy Castle: Carrickabraghy Castle is also nearby. The ruins stand on a rocky outcrop near Ballylifin
- Doagh beach: another stunning beach near the castle above. It is on Doagh Island/ Isle of Doagh which as you have probably guessed, used to be an island. It’s now a small peninsula. The Doagh Famine Village is located beside it – a museum about the Great Famine.
- Kinnagoe bay: You’ve guessed it, a beach. What can I say, Donegal has some of the countries best coastline.
- Culdaff Beach
- Glenevin waterfall: this waterfall in Clonmany is well worth a visit. From the car park, it is a short walk to the falls. The area was almost fully destroyed by bad weather in 2019? but it’s been restored.
Malin Head is for sure one of the must-visit places in Ireland. Not only because it is the most northerly point, but also for the outrageous views that the area boasts.
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