Port-a-Doras, Shroove, County Donegal

The Search for the Port of the Door

Not long after I moved back to this beautiful part of the world to concentrate on my writing, I heard about the natural opening in the cliff face along the coast from Shroove. I searched two different areas at looking for it but it eluded me until I had a chat with local artist, Brian Scampton, who kindly drew me a map. Like many of our hidden gems in Ireland, there are no actual signs to pinpoint where it is but, armed with my hand-drawn map, rucksack, bottle of water, binoculars and camera , off I went.

At the fork in the road leading to Inishowen Head Loop walk, I came across this signpost.

Signpost to Inishowen Head Loop Walk


Right beside it is a turnstile which I walked through, following Brian’s map. One tip for visitors to any part of Ireland…never be shy asking one of the locals for help…people are usually delighted to guide you on your way!


turnstile entrance to Port-a-Doras


This brought me into a wide open field full of sheep and bouncing spring lambs. There is a well-worn, clearly defined path to the first beach running tightly along the right side of the field to the first beach but, as would be expected in lambing season, no dogs are allowed. And of course, it is important to respect the landowner and not simply wander through the field itself.


spring lambs at Port-a-Doras,Donegal


It was the first time I was actually walking in a field full of sheep and lambs. Many a time I have enjoyed seeing them as I passed along the roadside either in a car, or walking, but now I was walking along the side of a huge field full of them. It took my breath away to see this wee lamb suckle from its mother.


lambs at port-a-dors-shroove


Do Sheep Attack Humans?

The tranquillity was then disrupted for a bit as one of the ewes started to run towards me. For some reason, my mind started to race. “Sheep don’t attack humans, do they?” “Nah, I reassured myself”. “But, maybe they do during lambing season?” As the ewe continued to approach me I decided the best thing to do was create some distance, so I had an unplanned, panicked jog, for about 30 yards.

I know…spot the townie. You will surely understand that I was running for my life and have no photographs of the attack.

Stopping to catch my breath and calm down again, I continued along the grass worn path along the edges of the coast.


Port-a-Dors, Shroove, County Donegal


There was a little bit of gentle climbing upwards along the edge. It’s not a steep drop, just enough to make my heart flutter a little.


Path to Port-a-Doras Shroove


All along the way I passed bundles of heathers adorning rocks and cheerful patches of oxalis and celandine kept me company.


celandine at port-a-doras

A Gorse for All Seasons

The vibrant yellow of the gorse bushes light up the landscape and my senses with the gentle aroma of coconut with just a hint of vanilla. This spectacular but prickly shrub has three different varieties which flower at different times of the year, hence the saying, “When gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”. With its romantic connotations, brides often picked some to include in their bridal bouquets.

Gorse (aileann as Gaeilge) , or whin in Donegal, was frequently used to thatch roofs and provided excellent fuel for cooking, and it is now a protective habitat for wildlife and our feathered friends.


gorse on the path to port-a-doras, shroove


Along a little further to a second turnstile on the path.


turnstile on way to port-a-doras-shrrove


Wide, Open Space

Nothing to see in the distance only sky, ocean, the horizon and passing birds.

Nothing to hear except the sound of my footfalls and the sound of Atlantic waves gently crashing against the jagged rocks at the very edge of Ireland.


path to port-a-doras-, shroove



Greeting the fabulous Port-a-Doras which is the only way into Port-a-Doras beach, short of scaling the cliff face.




Port-a-Doras Beach

Hunching down through the entrance, which is about three feet wide, the first sight of the shingle beach.


port-a-doras, shroove


Dancing Seaweed Gardens

Many of the rocks were covered in limpets and seaweed danced in lush seaweed gardens thriving in the cove.


Port-a-Doras Beach


Sculptures by Mother Nature Herself

The beach is decorated with the most amazing rock shapes, sculpted and polished smooth by the waves.


natural sculptures on port-a-doras beach


natural sculptures on port-a-doras beach


Looking out for Porpoises

I had heard that porpoises were spotted in the local waters that morning, so I stayed on the beach for almost an hour hoping to see them but no joy.

On my way back, I regularly stopped to scan the ocean just in case.


port-a-doras beach


No porpoises.


port-a-doras, shroove


Still, no porpoises! But a marvellous day out filled with sunshine, ocean-scents and scenery.


port-a-doras, shroove


According to Map My Walk, it is about 1.10 kilometres from the turnstile entrance to Port-a-Doras beach, and well worth it for the views along the way.

Passing through the venerable entrance from Port-a-Doras to the beach is simply breathtaking.

I didn’t meet another person on my way there or back.

It was just me, Port-a-Doras, the fringe of Ireland and the Atlantic. And, an over-enthusiastic guard-sheep.

Beir Bua Agus Beannacht,



Don’t miss enjoying Brian Scampton’s Art which you can see on his website and facebook page

Further Reading

I enjoyed this interesting storytelling about Yellow Gorse and Irish Mythology

You may want to try out these recipes for Gorse Cordial and Gorse Wine



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Port-a-Doras 55.240821, -6.933243

Rosaline Callaghan

Rosaline is a writer, speaker and photographer living in a wee cottage over looking the beautiful Kinnagoe Bay in County Donegal and at the very edge of the Wild Atlantic Way

15 thoughts on “Port-a-Doras, Shroove, County Donegal

  • April 30, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Thank you for linking to my gorse post. What a wonderful place, I really want to do that walk and visit that beach. Very inspiring. The natural stone sculptures are beautiful and sinuous and so tactile.

    • April 30, 2016 at 11:34 am

      You are very welcome Ali. I loved your article and your graphics are very pretty. It truly is a fantastic walk. Let me know if you plan to come to this part of the world. We can meet for a coffee. And, the stone sculptures ARE amazing.

  • April 30, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Lovely piece Rosaleen! Thank you. David.

  • April 30, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Wow, gorgeous, I want to go there!
    Beautiful photos!

  • April 30, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Lovely piece with great photos spent school holidays in this area you went off in the morning and hunger was the only thing that brought you home again.

    • April 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Thank you for the compliments, John. I have been working really hard this year learning photography so that my readers can really feel they are with me on my travels.

      And, I have memories of crab fishing in Burt when we left the house first thing after breakfast, only to return home when starving or fearing the encroaching dark.

      I am delighted you took the time to let me know you enjoyed it.

  • April 30, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Hope the land owner was civil as from memory many years ago this was not so

    • May 1, 2016 at 8:47 am

      Just read the article and it depicts wandering through the middle of the first field. I believe there is a right of way for the public to walk straight down from the turn style to the first beach but it is tight to the right hand side of the field no one would have the right to walk through the middle of the field. It’s a beautiful walk and very well respected by most but people should respect land owners rights and stick to the narrow path.

      • May 1, 2016 at 9:26 am

        Thank you so much to take the time to read the article and leave your comment. I appreciate that. I see that I may not have worded that part clearly enough so I popped back into my original post and changed the wording. It is vitally important to respect the land owner’s rights and I am sorry if the original wording did not reflect that. So, I have made some changes. Thanks again.

        • May 1, 2016 at 10:18 am

          You’ve done a great job! Lovely article and photographs! Wishing you many happy visits to port-a-doras.

          • May 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

            Thank you so much. The next visit will be with a video camera so I can share even more with you all.
            I so appreciate all the lovely, supportive and informational comments like yours.

  • May 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    The photos are all beautiful as is the way you described your adventure, I want to go there myself now.Thank you for sharing this walk Rosaline.


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