Walks:Gartan Lake, Co. Donegal – A stroll through history

Leaving the Heritage Centre, turn right along the wooded shoreline, then left onto a road. Pause on the bridge over the river Leannan and relish lake views. Keep left at the next junction. The lakeshore road brings you to the Glebe, which the artist Derek Hill donated to the nation. There are periodic arts exhibitions at the gallery and the gardens are open to the public After the Glebe, cross the small Tehabber bridge.

To the right, a short diversion leads to Colmcille's birthplace, the ancient monastery of Rath Cno and a panoramic view over three lakes, including Gartan. Your main route continues straight up the hill over Glaskeelan bridge to a poignant place, Derryveagh.

There, 244 people, half of them children,were evicted in April 1861. John George Adair, the landlord who later built Glenveagh Castle, revenged tenants for allegedly stealing sheep and murdering stewards. An Taisce's plaque on a solitary gable wall recalls evictions and shattered hearths.

Off the road at Lough Beg, there are seats for contemplation, a commemorative cairn and a ruined house. There may be an access difficulty here.

Back on the road, continue right through picturesque woodland and open views southwards over the lake where the Bullaba River joins it. On the right, the Glenveagh deer fence borders the route. Turn left over the bridge towards the Glendowan road. Continue left over the lake. Above the shore, pass the new St Colmcille church, a replica of the old building. Soon turn into the entrance to the Outdoor Education Centre. Walk through its grounds, now in public ownership, to the Education Centre on a historic hotel site. Continue a short distance along the lakeshore path and return to your starting point at the Colmcille Heritage Centre

Tony Quinn

?More www.donegaldirect.ie. Local booklet: Walking Donegal, Derryvale Glens, 2000. Distance: 16km plus 2km diversion to Rath Cno. Time: 3-4 hours. Access: R250 from Letterkenny. then R251. Follow signs to Church Hill and local heritage sites.