Golf from Finn Valley Cottages

Embrace a Giant SpiritNorthern Ireland – made for golf

Northern Ireland is the home of world renowned golf courses – each with wonderful fairways and unbeatably smooth greens and other exclusive facilities! The best courses within easy travelling distance of Finn Valley self catering cottages include Royal Portrush, Portstewart, Ballyliffen, Rosapenna, Portsalon, Narin & Portnoo, Donegal (Murvagh), Castlerock, Lough Erne Resort as well as local courses at Newtownstewart and Strabane.

A number of famous golfers originate from Ireland – Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Christy O’Connor and Graeme McDowell to mention a few.

You can follow in their footsteps and enjoy the quality courses that they have always taken for granted.

Do you play golf? Finn Valley Cottages is the perfect location for a few rounds of golf! Whatever your level there is a course nearby to Finn Valley Cottages waiting for you to come along and sample! You can be sure of a very warm welcome and a high quality game.

Anne is a very keen golfer – and has recently been the Lady Captain at Newtownstewart Golf Club – Anne has played all the courses mentioned here so when you stay at Finn Valley Cottages she can guide you to the best courses, with the most competitive green fees and other details to help you find the most suitable courses for you during your stay.

Royal Portrush Golf
Photo: Royal Portrush Golf Club with the White Rocks in the background looking towards The Giant’s Causeway

Royal Portrush Golf Club – home of The Open in 2019 – is one of the many excellent links courses available within easy travelling from your lodgings at Finn Valley self catering cottages. The Dunluce course has again been awarded the No. 1 golf course in Ireland.

During the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush, visitors staying in Finn Valley Cottages went daily to spectate there – it was so convenient. What a joy it was also for Anne and her golfing friends to sit in the best grandstand seats at the 18th and join in the celebrations as Shane Lowry collected the Claret Jug. It is not unusual to see Darren Clarke on the course at Portrush.

There are 2 courses adjacent – The Valley Links which tends to be used mostly by the ladies and the great Dunluce Links which is a challenge for both the men and the ladies. Calamity Corner – a 210 yards par 3 is unforgiving when you do not reach the green. Short of the green will see the ball disappear into a large chasm of long grasses, interesting plants and difficult to negotiate the terrain. The much easier 18th often yields a good score which always makes me eager to return to this championship course.

Royal Portrush Valley Links

The Dunluce took over 2 of the best holes from the valley for “The Village” for the 2019 Open Championship. Mackenzie & Ebert added 2 excellent holes to The Valley which provides a lovely finishing stretch.  

The ladies clubhouse serves extremely high-quality food – so much so that it is often appealing to swap time for pre-play warm-up with another cup of coffee and delicious apple pie and cream.

Portstewart Golf course – The Strand

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Portstewart Golf Course. Although there are 3 courses at Portstewart, I have played only The Strand which hosted the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Open and has been confirmed as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open host venue for 2022.

Again I had the privilege of a great seat at the 18th on the 2017 final day to see Jon Rahm win. The bunkers don’t seem as daunting as the deep bowl-type bunkers at Royal Portrush, but accuracy is important. 

The 1st hole has a lovely elevated tee followed by a dog-leg to a beautifully manicured green between two sand dunes. The entire course is maintained to an extremely high standard and gives great confidence to intermediate golfers as the ball runs so far on the fairways. As most of the links courses along the wonderfully scenic coastline, it is the wind that creates so much of the thrill and the challenge.  One quickly learns to play more “off the right foot“ to play long and low to reduce wind interference. The clubhouse staff are very welcoming and with an excellent restaurant, it is the ideal way to finish a round. One can enjoy an excellent meal and observe how other players are dealing with the final hole.

Castlerock Golf Course

Castlerock

Castlerock’s Championship Mussenden course is great for all levels of golfer.

There are plenty of challenges, but nothing looks impossible and there are some very inviting par 3s.

The 4th is definitely  inviting but you need to be accurate. Just concentrate on the green and don’t get distracted by the railway line on the right and the stream on the left. Martin Hawtree upgraded the bunkers and added 2 new greens making this course a real joy to play.

The views like most of our links courses are excellent with views across to Donegal in one direction and towards Scotland in the other. The restaurant is extremely good and very reasonably priced.  Serious golfers who play Royal Portrush and The Strand, Portstewart like to include Castlerock in their tour.

Lough Erne Resort, near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

Lougherne

The Lough Erne Resort Faldo course was designed by Nick Faldo.  This is a Par 72 course measuring 7071 yards for the men.

I love playing this course in a 4-ball when 2 of the players are men. I feel that the ladies have the great advantage with the ladies tee-boxes being very far forward, consequently making it very enjoyable (and in my opinion easier)  for the ladies. The course record of 68 was set by Rory McIlroy.

The club house facilities are excellent – albeit the restaurant more expensive to eat in than the neighbouring Castlehume Golf course clubhouse – a very short distance away. The Faldo course has excellent refreshment facilities at the 9th where you can purchase tasty fish and chips – a great treat on a cold day.

There are several very tempting shots across water, but from experience it not always a good idea to take the short route as all too often I have underestimated the distance. Very frustrating when I could easily have taken a longer iron or a wood!! My favourite hole is the 10th – a  par 4 where definitely it is best to play your second shot short as any extra distance results in the ball accelerating across the green and disappearing into the lough! There is water around two thirds of the green. It is such a joy to watch the second shot land short on the side of the hill and roll gently down to the edge of or just onto the green.

The course is always immaculate and make for a truly great game of golf.

The 18th green has plenty of landing space and with your drive going over the reeds in the wetland it makes a great hole to finish on.

Cruit Island Golf course.  (Pronounced critch)

Cruit Golf Club

This little known golf course in the wilds of Donegal is an absolute joy to experience and well worth a visit even if you don’t play golf! It is a nine hole course with different tee boxes for the second nine.

Many serious golfers wouldn’t even consider playing a nine hole course,  but I can assure you that Cruit Island also presents a golfing challenge.

The scenery is stunning by any standards,  and  provides amazing views from virtually every hole. It is officially an island in the Rosses area of Co. Donegal, but it is linked to the mainland by a bridge so access is not a problem. Located near Kincasslagh it is famous for the home of singer and TV personality Daniel O’Donnell. Cruit island is about 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and enjoys 12  sandy beaches.

There are buggies for hire. Although there is a limited menu on offer,  if you enjoy fish and chips you are in for a real treat.

Don’t under-estimate the golf as there are numerous challenges on the way round.  The advantage of this challenging 9-hole course is that it gives you the opportunity to have another go at some of the really testing holes which you would  have had a great score at  if only…….

A day to Cruit Island  is a wonderful outing. The scenery on the way there is superb and you can finish the day by eating in one of the excellent gastronomic pubs in this remote part of Ireland.

Rosapenna. (Sandy Hills   and   Old Tom Morris)

Located on yet another fabulous scenic part of The Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, the Old Tom Morris links is adjacent to Sandy Hills which was developed in 2003 by Pat Ruddy.

Old Tom Morris

In 1891 Old Tom Morris was a guest of Lord Leitrim and as he was driving around Donegal he discovered  Rosapenna as an ideal place for golf. Tom had come from St Andrews and on his return he told others about this wonderful Donegal paradise for golf.

The course was frequented by famous golfers such as Harry Vardon and James Braid in the early 1900s. Harry Colt of Sunningdale upgraded the course in 1911. In more recent years Pat Ruddy of the European Club ensured that the course flowed easily from start to finish.

There are superb views out over Tramore beach, Sheephaven Bay and Mulroy Bay.

Lady Captain

Lady Captain’s outing from Newtownstewart to Rosapenna

(following tea/coffee, home-made scones with jam and cream plus complementary bottle of wine for the course!!)

Sandy Hills

Pat Ruddy in 2003 used the big sand dunes to create a stunning course with fabulous views from every hole. This 7,255 yard course looks across the Old Tom Morris course and towards Sheephaven Bay. I usually treat myself to a buggy on  both courses when at Rosapenna. Those of us who hit shorter shots but keep on the fairway and out of the Marram grass can have a great round.

The club house has excellent facilities . There is a statue of Old Tom Morris near just outside the clubhouse.  The views from the bar and restaurant or from the outside balcony are stunning.

Rosapenna is one of my favourite places. Perhaps this is partly due to the superb restaurant in the Rosapenna Hotel which is part of the resort.  You can pick up a buggy either at the hotel or from the clubhouse. It is worth booking early for the restaurant to guarantee a table overlooking Downings beach.  This is a very safe beach where the rest of the family, if they are not golf enthusiasts, can spend a day on the beach while you enjoy the golf.

Downings Beach

Downings beach with Rosapenna Hotel in the background.

Rosapenna usually have their annual open week around the 1st/2nd week of August. Rosapenna is one  of the 3 courses in the Donegal Links Classic in conjunction with Portsalon and Ballyliffen.

Narin & Portnoo

Portnoo with its blue flag beach (Naran) is yet another panoramic beauty spot on the Wild Atlantic Way.  The sand dunes are designated a Natural Heritage area with a very diverse range of habitats.

Gil Hanse upgraded this course with some new holes and new greens in 2020.  It is now in private ownership and all facilities are excellent. The quality of the entire course has been raised to an entirely new level. With long sweeping fairways on the par-5s the ball “takes legs and runs”.

I always treat myself to a buggy at Portnoo. Each year, usually held at the end of July,  Narin & Portnoo is one of the three courses in the Lough Erne and Links 3 day challenge – the other courses being Lough Erne Resort and Donegal (Murvagh).

I am very lucky to have good friends who are members at Narin & Portnoo so it is even more enjoyable to have a catch up and good craic on the way round. They keep me right as to the best point to aim for.

Ballyliffin The Old Links and Glashedy Links

Ballyliffen offers two championship courses.  The Old Links and Glashedy Links

Ballyliffen is very much on The Wild Atlantic Way with the emphasis being on the “wild”.  Much of this course is exposed to the sea breeze or the strong winds which can play havoc with the best of well hit shots. Even players like Rory McIlroy who knows the course well got into trouble in the rough during  the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Again the scenery on this Donegal coastline is stunning.

The par 3 at the fifth is very inviting albeit guarded by 4 bunkers. The next par 3 at the seventh presents another great opportunity but you need to keep low on a windy day, otherwise the ball can easily fly towards the Atlantic ocean!

I have played here as part of the Donegal Classic  which is played annually at the end of August. 3 days playing Ballyliffen, Portsalon and Rosapenna.

Pollan Links.   9-holes at Ballyliffen.

In 2020 a new 9-hole course designed by Pat Ruddy was opened.  It is slightly more sheltered from the wind coming off the Atlantic ocean.

This is a great addition to cater for every level of golfer wishing to play at Ballyliffen.

Ballyliffen Golf Green

Rory McIlroy in the rough at Ballyliffen in the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Ballyliffen

Rory McIlroy preparing to chip out of the rough ain the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffen.

Rory Mcilory

Ballyliffen and its sloping green.

Portsalon Golf Club

Portsalon golf club is currently rent in one of the top 20 in Ireland. Golf has been played here since the 1880s and originally designed by Charles Thompson of Portrush.  The most recent changes were guided by Pat Ruddy  in 2000

The 1st and 18th are much easier since the very wide stream crossing the fairways was covered with a grid.  At the 2nd it is very tempting to cut the corner, but it is no real advantage as the second shot is more important in terms of getting onto the green without “slipping into the drink”. The views from the 4th across the beach. Ballymastocker beach across Ballymastocker Bay provides yet another blue flag beach along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Portsalon ranks as another of my favourites. Each time I look forward to playing  the 16th  which depends on laying up – but not too far away –  before the final chip shot onto the green. The course is very well maintained and I always enjoy the refreshments in the clubhouse.

Portsalon Golf Club

Donegal Golf Club (Murvagh)

Donegal golf club is located at Murvagh about 10 minutes drive from Donegal Town.  The course was originally designed by Eddie Hackett and was referred to as the Muirfield of Ireland. 

Pat Ruddy has guided recent updates and with its new clubhouse in 1998 it is another of my favourite golf courses. Within easy reach of Finn Valley Cottages I play in their winter league. 

Darren Clarke describes it as one of his “favourite courses in the world”.

Despite knowing this Donegal course  well every game presents a new challenge.

My favourite hole  is the par-3 over the Valley of Tears. It is so rewarding to land the ball on the slope to the left of the green and watch it run down towards the flag. I will not  describe the feeling when the ball falls short and ends up down in the valley.

 Perhaps the most cruel shot is to land on the green and watch as the ball runs off into the bunker or bounces off into the steep drop on the right.

There is another lovely par-3 at hole  16. This is known as the Temple, named after the owner of Magee’s of Donegal which is a famous tweed shop selling Donegal tweed clothing throughout the world. This is an easier par-3 if you can avoid the fairway bunker just before the green.

The 18th named after Barnesmore Gap in the Bluestack Mountains is a great way to finish, but you must make sure to get up onto the elevated green on your final approach.

The 19th hole is excellent. I always enjoy coffee and a fresh scone on arrival in the morning and look forward to a meal afterwards with friends .   

All the courses mentioned above are in the top 45 of Ireland’s best golf courses.

Anne Speers your hostess – who is she?

I was born and brought up here on a small mixed farm exactly where Finn Valley Cottages are now located. It was typical of farming in Ireland at that time, where many farms had a mix of cattle, sheep, pigs and hens. My father kept pigs, chickens and cattle and I adored helping him with the daily livestock and other farm chores. I really enjoyed feeding the pigs and going up the fields with my father to count the sheep and cattle. 

In my childhood I vaguely remember hen houses in the fields and all livestock was free range. I was very much an outdoor person and loved helping on the farm. I wanted to carry buckets of water from an early age and frequently remember spilling the water down the inside of my welly boots as even the small milking buckets were really too big for me to carry! I hear you ask what is a “milking bucket”. It was a small metal bucket which the milk went into when hand milking. We had a quiet white cow who allowed me to milk her, but insisted on kicking the workman when he tried to milk her. She was also happy to let my father milk her and he held her tail during milking. That was a skill that was too advanced for me and so I had her tail occasionally swiping right around my head as I squeezed the strands of milk out. My mother was not happy when I came back into the house with my hair and clothes smelling of cows! Like the workmen, I had a pair of dungarees to go over my clothes but I did not wear a hat or a cap. 

When I was about six years old I got the best birthday present ever. I was told my present was outside and I still remember the joy when I found a brown and white calf with a tiny greetings label around its neck and standing in a warm and cosy pen made with straw bales in the barn. It was a sad day when I said goodbye to my precious grown-up calf 18 months later as it made its way to market in a very large cattle lorry.

I loved going places with my father and I was very occasionally allowed to go to the cattle market and the pig market in Strabane. The cattle market was on the site of where the library and Alley Theatre now stand and the pig market was in what is now Dock Street car park. Dock Street was where the canal came all the way into the centre of Strabane. A  hundred  years ago it was possible to get on  a canal boat in Strabane and go to Derry/ Londonderry and then board a ship to emigrate to America.

I was a very practical child and was lucky enough to get a donkey. The only item of harness that I initially possessed was a bit – the remainder of the bridle was made from rope. There was no saddle – instead I had an empty meal sack – a jute sack that the pig meal had been in. This was a great way to achieve good balance when learning to ride. When I progressed to a pony the donkey followed the pony over the jumps. A major thrill was to become the very proud owner of a real saddle with stirrups. 

Growing up on the farm was a mix of hard work and fun, but it was not much fun when I had to do my school work. My Mother was Principal at Tullywhisker Primary School and so homework took a great priority.

I have an older brother, Hall, who was far more studious in his approach to life. I was the naughty outdoor child and he was the reliable young man who always “did as he was told” – especially where homework and study was involved. Today he is a Bishop in the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Mahajanga in Madagascar – (having retired some years ago from being a rector in a London parish – he remains a workaholic, instead of enjoying a well-earned retirement!) 

When my father became unwell in the late 1960s I ran the farm and at the same time attended Loughry Agricultural College to study for an HND in Poultry Production 

My first ‘proper’ job after college was as a lecturer in Poultry production at Plumpton Agricultural College in Sussex. Quite a change in cultures from rural Ireland to southern England! After a few years there I moved to Harper Adams College in Shropshire to their poultry department for another few years, before returning to Plumpton as the new Head of the Poultry Department there. Teaching was not my real love as it was so restrictive. I completed a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA), part time ,at what was then Brighton Polytechnic (now Sussex University). I joined a commercial poultry/food firm Daylay, near Newark in Nottinghamshire as technical manager on the agricultural team. This was much more interesting and I eventually moved to North Yorkshire as their area manager in charge of a group of poultry farms and their associated 90+ staff.  During all of this time I continued to manage the family farm from afar. 

After 10 years in industry I returned home to Ireland in 2000, to start my own business from scratch. Since returning home I have done poultry consultancy, and farm quality inspections for the industry both in Ireland and the UK. 

In 2012 as part of a farm diversification scheme, I began to develop redundant barns on the family farm to create Finn Valley Cottages, and as they say the rest is history! 

One of my goals in life was to marry a farmer, but instead I married David, who is a Church of Ireland Parish Priest in Taughboyne in Donegal. You may see him around at the cottages when you visit. He is interested in churches and history so he can help you to trace your family roots in the area or take you on a guided tour of churches – including Derry Cathedral where he might play your favourite hymn on the organ. 

Finn Valley Cottages is my retirement project!. I have been very privileged to meet some very interesting people and I thoroughly enjoy meeting the guests. 

My interests are horse riding,  golf and fishing. My favourite golf courses are Narin and Portnoo, Murvagh, Rosapenna, Portsalon , Cruit Island and Royal Portrush as well as being  Lady Captain 2020 in Newtownstewart 

My favourite fishing is on the Mourne, the Owenkillew , the upper parts of the Finn and the Derg.

A person riding a horse

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A person riding a horse

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A person riding a horse in a field

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Salmon fishing in Ireland

SALMON FISHING

The salmon fishing can be very good from the end of May onwards, with the peak months being June and July, but can fish well from March until the end of September. The River Finn is a spate river and there is fantastic fishing shortly after heavy rain – which is a frequent occurrence in Ireland!!

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The Mourne is not a spate river but like many other Irish rivers, it fishes best as the water fines down, but because of its size it usually fishes well for 3 or 4 days after the flood waters have receded. The Grilse will often press on unless the water is really low.

Click here for more information about fishing holidays at Finn Valley Cottages.

The Grainan Of Aileach

The Grianán of Aileach  is a hill top fort located on the western edge of a small group of hills. Situated on Greenan Mountain at Inishowen, County Donegal in Ireland that lie between the upper reaches of Lough Swilley and Lough Foyle. A short drive of about 25 minutes from Finn Valley Cottages.

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Grianan at sunset

Although the hill not very high (244metres), the summit dominates the neighbouring counties of Londonderry, (Derry), Donegal and Tyrone. Located at the edge of the Inishowen peninsula, it is 11.25 kilometres (7 mi) northwest of the ecclesiastical site of Derry. The views from the carpark and from the fort are spectacular. A wheelchair friendly path links the car park to the fort.

It is believed that the currently existing hillfort was built by Northern Ui Neill around the sixth or seventh century AD, but the first settlement, also a fortress, was most probably created around the 1st century.

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The round fort is built largely without mortar. The interior has three terraces which are linked by steps. The wall is about 4.5 metres (15 ft) thick and 5 metres (16 ft) high, with two long passages within it. Originally, there would have been wooden structures were built against the terraces to provide accommodation.  Just outside it are the remains of a well and a tumulus. The outline of Bronze Age or Iron Age ramparts can be seen below the fort. Legend states that the giants of Inishowen are lying sleeping but when the sacred sword is removed they will spring to life reclaiming their ancient lands.

It has been identified as the seat of the Kingdom of Ailech and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland. There is much legend and historical material related to the Grianán of Aileach. The Irish Annals record its destruction in 1101. The main monument on the hill is a stone cashel, restored in the nineteenth century, but probably built in the eighth century CE. The summit’s use as an area of settlement may go back much further. A tumulus at the Grianán may date back to the Neolithic age. A covered well was found near the cashel in the early nineteenth century.

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Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander

Who is this lady? Have you heard about her? You will no doubt have heard of and probably sung ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and ‘There is a Green Hill far away’ and ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.  Mrs Alexander wrote these hymns and has some interesting local connections!

She was born in Dublin in 1818 to Major John and Mrs Elizabeth Humphreys. Her father was invalided out of the Royal Marines following the Napoleonic wars and became the agent for the Marquis of Abercorn. The family moved in 1833 to Milltown House just outside Strabane.

Cecil Frances wrote her only work of prose ‘The Lord of the Forest and his Vassals’ which ran to 5 editions. A year later she wrote ‘Hymns for Little Children’ for which she is best known and intended to explain Church Catechism to children. It included the 3 hymns mentioned above.

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On 15th October 1850 Cecil Frances married the Reverend William Alexander and took an active role in parish life.

Points of and places of interest linked to Cecil Alexander:

  • Milltown House Strabane
  • Strabane Parish church – demolished and replaced by Christ Church
  • St Bestius Church Termonamonagan , Killeter near Castlederg
  • Derg Lodge in townland of Aghyaran  5 miles from Castlederg
  • 1855 William was appointed as rector of the parish of Upper Fahan  on the shores of Loch Swilly
  • 1860 appointed Rector of Camus-iuxta-Mourne, or Strabane – the rectory overlooked the weir on the Mourne at Sion Mills.
  • 1867 William became the Bishop of Derry and the family moved into the Bishop’s palace on Bishop Street Within, close to the cathedral. This is now the Masonic Hall.
  • 14th October 1895 Cecil France died aged 77. There was an astonishing display of affection and mourning across Ireland and especially in Derry. She was buried in Londonderry City Cemeteries. Today the Music Room in the grounds of the cathedral is named in the memory of Cecil Frances and on Carrigans Lane off Bishop Street Without, a number of alms cottages completed in 1901. Were named the Alexander Memorial Cottages in her name. The are now in private ownership
  • A blue plaque commemorates her life in the Bishop’s Palace, now Freemasons Hall in Bishop Street.
  • 1986 William was appointed Archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland.
  • He resigned  in 1911 and retired to Torquay where he died in September 1911.
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Stained glass window in memory of Cecil Frances Alexander, in St Columb’s CathedralDerry, Northern Ireland. Dedicated on 20th March 1913

The LH window – depicts  Once in Royal David’s City

Middle: There is Green Hill Far Away

The RH window :  The Golden Gates are lifted up

The history in and around Finn Valley Cottages is rich and riveting. There’s so many new things to do, see and discover when you choose to stay here.

Slow Adventure

A brand new adventure concept favouring slow, immersive experiences that engage with remote, wild and nature-rich places was revealed at an exclusive launch event in the Walled City Brewery in Derry.

One of the new slow adventure packages, aptly named, ‘slow adventure’ fosters an engagement with nature and provides an opportunity to not only partake in an activity but also to learn aspects of the local area such as the produce, wildlife and environment.

Over ten new visitor packages have been put together by thirteen local tourism businesses from the Derry and Strabane area and are now available to experience. Each package has been carefully crafted to make your introduction with slow adventure as memorable as possible. You can now walk through the Glenga Valley in the heart of the Sperrins foraging for food along the way, bake your own bread the traditional way in the farmhouse kitchen of Bradkeel Social Farm, see how artisan cheese is produced or have a go at traditional fishing on the River Foyle and cook your catch on a wild camp fire. Other packages include interactive cooking demonstrations with local hand-picked ingredients, Irish walking tours, horse riding in the Faughan Valley as well as deer stalking, bird shooting and salmon fishing in Strabane.

Visitors to the Derry and Strabane area can experience these new slow adventure packages over the weekend of Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24thSeptember as Derry City and Strabane District Council host the first ever ‘Slow Adventure Weekend’.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh “The council are delighted to bring this new adventure concept to Northern Ireland and more specifically to Derry, Strabane and the surrounding rural areas. We are the first and only area in Northern Ireland to offer slow adventure experiences and believe it is an amazing way to journey through the breath-taking landscapes and engage with the wilderness and nature”.

At the launch, James Huey from the Walled City Brewery, one of the local tourism businesses offering a slow adventure package commented, “There is something very special about participating in a slow adventure. It’s not just about taking part in an activity, the crux of a slow adventure is to give people the chance to really get away from it all and create memorable experiences”.

This new concept has been introduced to Northern Ireland as part of a transnational programme to promote slow adventures in Scotland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Slow Adventure in the Northern Territories, or SAINT Programme, is a three year programme with support from The Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020. The Northern Irish project partner, Derry City and Strabane District Council, has been working with local tourism businesses since September 2015 to create the new slow adventure packages using their learnings from the other destinations across the world also involved in the programme.

Visit www.slowadventureni.com to see what’s on offer during this year’s Slow Adventure Weekend and throughout the year to start planning your next adventure!

Fly fishing holidays for salmon, wild brown trout and sea trout on the Rivers Mourne and Finn

Fly fishing for salmon in Ireland at Paddy’s Stream on the River Mourne

Package 1

One weeks accommodation in Derg Cottage with 1 or 2 Anglers sharing. One guide for the duration of your stay. Airport Collection by your guide. 7 days small 4×4 hire (Toyota Rav 4 or similar)

Total price £2808
Per person if sharing £1404    

Package 2

One weeks accommodation in the Finn Cottage or Strule Cottage, Up to 3 anglers not sharing. One Guide the duration of your stay. Airport collection by your guide. 7 days Large 4×4 hire (Toyota Hilux or similar)
Total Price £3600
Per Person £1200

Package 3

One weeks accommodation in the Finn Cottage or Strule Cottage. 4 or 5 anglers sharing. 2 guides for the duration of your stay Airport collection by your guides. 7 days hire of 2 Small 4×4 for 4 guests. For 5 guests, 1 small 4×4 and 1 large 4×4

Total price for 4 £5502        
Total price for 5 £5934        
Per person for 4 £1375.50     
Per person for 5 £1186.80

Package 4

One weeks accommodation in the Finn Cottage or Strule Cottage. 6 anglers sharing. 2 guides for the duration of your stay. Airport collection by your guides. 7 days hire of 2 large 4×4

Total price £6366
Per person £1061    

To arrange booking email us at: info@rivermourneguides.com   or finnvalleycottages@gmail.com

Slow adventure – inspiring connections with the outdoors. A chance to explore and engage with wild, open and natural places. To journey through breath-taking landscapes at a slower, immersive pace. Creating memories through meaningful experiences as you invest time in a place, in its traditions and community. Surrendering to the natural forces of the environment as you reflect, reconnect and become closer to nature.

Slow adventure brings together people who enjoy sharing their sense of place with visitors by sharing traditional skills, local knowledge, storytelling and spending time together in nature. Each slow adventure has been crafted to offer unique experiences by working with carefully selected people and businesses.

Slow Adventure forms part of the Slow Adventure in Northern Territories Project which is co-financed by the European Union’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme.

Birth of Finn Valley Cottages

In 2010 I was struggling to make the small farm viable. I had worked in England until 2000 and was very keen to return home to Ireland – a decision that I have never regretted.

The farm had been a traditional small mixed farm. In my childhood, we had a few dairy cows, beef suckler cattle, laying hens, pigs and sheep. It was typical of the many small farms throughout Ireland. The barn that has become Finn Valley Cottages was redundant as it no longer was suitable for modern farming methods as it was inaccessible to machinery.

Finn Valley

The old barn was fast becoming dilapidated with the roof falling in at the lower end and people starting to vandalise it. I had to make the decision – to demolish or develop and I’m more of a developer than a demolisher! So I developed the site!

Finn Valley Cottages

My ambition was 3-fold – to tidy up the site, to make the farm viable and to set up a business for my retirement. Under a Rural development program farm diversification scheme I applied for planning permission. 2 years later, having jumped through many bureaucratic hoops, I eventually obtained planning permission.

In 2012 I started with two cottages. I had been very keen to retain the features of the original barn hence the external appearance and the set of barn steps in the same position as the steps where I had off run up following my father to the barn door. The French doors are where the old doors were. The upstairs windows remind me of the loft doors through which, as a child, I had pushed bales of hay and straw out to my father who lifted them into the hay racks to feed the cattle. The sitting room of Foyle 100 years ago was the stable for the working horses and Finn was the byre for the cows at milking time.

As the business developed I added a games room located where are the sheep dip pens had been. Many a day I have got soaking wet as I walked through the sheep which were being dipped to protect them from flies and maggots. Dipping involved putting sheep into and through a large bath of water so that their fleece gets penetrated with sheep dip fluid. The workmen had waterproof leggings but no such thing existed for children. I was very keen on all aspects of farming and as a child had been very happy “to help” with outdoor jobs at every possible opportunity.

The final addition was Strule Cottage set up to meet the demand for guests with reduced mobility but who wish to maintain their independence. I had imagined the greatest demand coming from older people but how wrong I was. There is a strong demand from young people through most unfortunate circumstances require facilities which can easily cope with a wheelchair.

It was officially opened by Arlene Foster who is now First Minister in Northern Ireland, but in those days was Minister for Tourism. Ironically, as it was an agricultural diversification project, Mrs Foster was to be accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture Michelle O’Neill who is now deputy First Minister. And so Finn Valley Cottages became established!

Visit Derry

Dominating the North-western landscapes of Ireland, astride the flowing waters of the Foyle, is a 6th Century city that today resonates to the sounds of the 21st Century.

Among the happiest of those sounds is the multi-lingual chatter of more international visitors than ever – from conference delegates and backpackers to cruise passengers and tourists of all kinds – who are discovering the delights of a compact city which is unlike any other.

Having been placed by Lonely Planet as the fourth best city to visit in 2013 by a panel of travel experts and awarded the first ever UK city of Culture for 2013 Derry is most certainly the place to be! Londonderry, Derry, Doire or even ‘Legenderry’ as it has been recently renamed, is a centre of culture and creativity.This vibrant destination offers a unique combination of rich heritage and a buzzing social scene – Derry was named as ‘Friendliest Destination in Northern Ireland’ so you will be guaranteed the warmest of welcomes! Over the past few years the city has unveiled to all-comers the creative vibrancy and generosity of spirit that has always been apparent to those who knew her best. It’s a city famous for its confident modern outlook as it is for the timeless quality of its craic. Derry was named as runner up in the prestigious ‘Restaurant Association of Ireland’s 2015 ‘Foodie Town Awards’ so you can be sure to enjoy the very best of locally sourced produce including ‘from pier to plate’ seafood caught locally in neighboring Co. Donegal. Derry was named the “Best Halloween Destination in the World” by the readers of USA Today newspaper beating off stiff competition from Salem, Massachuttes and even Dracula’s home town of Transylvania!

Long an undiscovered gem, Derry~Londonderry stands today in the midst of a compelling transformation. It is a city emerging from a long and colourful history to showcase its brilliance to the world, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis of conflict. Here in our City you can expect many a smile of greeting from people who are noted worldwide for their friendly hospitality. Meander through the bustling streets of the only completely Walled City in Ireland and the British Isles and listen to the echoes of 1450 years of history. Stroll along its 17th century walls which are over 400 years old, and marvel at the ever-changing skyline of a city which is constant only in the warmth of its welcome.

Stroll across the gleaming new Peace Bridge which curves majestically across the River Foyle leading to the spectacular new development at Ebrington. Gateway to Ireland’s Northwest, our city is pulsing with life, resonant with centuries of heritage and passion, yet fresh as an Atlantic breeze. This is a joyful regional centre filled with celebration and inspiration, as manifested in the number and quality of our festivals and special events throughout the year.