I just spent two wonderful nights in Lough Mardal Lodge in Donegal.
Lough Mardal is an eco friendly glamping spot in Ballintra and it's an absolute gem of a place. My friend had paid for it as a pre-birthday treat to herself and I was very happy to be included. I've written many times about Donegal and how much I love it but it seems there's always something new to discover :)
There was so much to enjoy about Lough Mardal Lodge, it's hard to know where to start, but first of all, from an environmental perspective, the eco ethos was genuine and really well thought out. There is a widespread tendancy in the hospitality sector to greenwash and give a nod to sustainability, without actually reducing environmental impact to any great degree. Lough Mardal is different in quite a number of ways. The communal building is a stunning, bright and comfortable space and was constructed using straw bales and cob. There is a reed bed and wetland filtration system which filters all the sewage and waste water on the site. There are signs everywhere asking people to reduce waste and the kitchen has segregated bins for recyling and compost, and a bin for anything else which can't be put into those bins.
Each yurt is provided with enamel kitchenware and cutlery and a big glass bottle for water to be filled up from the tap. There's also a flask and teatowels provided.
The native woodland project at the Lodge involved planting 9,000 native trees on the grounds, with a mix of Alder, Rowan, Common Birch and Oak. So, from a sustainability perspective, I was really impressed, as well as with the wildness of the spaces, which are buzzing with the sounds of birds.
Apart from the eco aspect, the yurts are really amazing, so comfortable and spacious and each yurt is provided with a locker which contains charging points for devices, hot water bottles and lamps which can be charged before you need them in the evening, and which are really bright and perfect for reading by. We had a stove to keep us warm, and even though we woke up to frost on the first morning, we didn't feel cold in the slightest. Our yurt was the Bog yurt, which looked down over the lake and it was such a joy to sit out in the fresh air on the first night, and look at the sun setting gently over the lake and watch the clouds light up with colour. Later that night, we could see a vast sky of stars, completely unblemished by pollution and artificial light.
There is a walk on the site called Lime Tree Walk but unfortunately, due to the copious amounts of rain, it was very muddy and impassable in places. However, walking down to the lake and around it was a nice short stroll and the views are just beautiful. This is the perfect time of year to see nature coming to life again and to see buds opening and dainty little flowers appearing.
Overall, the sense of peace was so soothing, and it was truly comfortable, and a very relaxing space to be, both inside and outside the yurt. I slept so well and really enjoyed sitting in the comfy chair and reading my book.
One of the great things about Lough Mardal is that it feels a million miles away from everything, yet is very accessible and close to lots of places to explore. We visited the Janus stones on Boa Island which we had seen before but it was very close to the Lodge so it was nice to visit again. Donegal town is nearby, as well as lots of beaches and walks. However, if you just want to retreat from the hectic pace of everything, the Lodge is perfect. The reciprocal room has lots of comfy seating and soft lighting and is a device free space, so if you're like me and a bit overly attached to your phone, having this zone to really switch off is great. Each yurt has a cupboard and fridge space in the kitchen, and there are two sinks and cookers so lots of room for cooking and eating.
The communal toilets and showers are spotless and as tastefully designed as the main spaces and yurts, with lots of polished wood and subtle decorative touches.
I absolutely loved my stay there and couldn't fault anything, will definitely be back as soon as I can.
Do check out my other Donegal posts for more ideas of things to do in the county!