Off the Beaten Path: Meet Owen Clarke

Owen Clarke is pictured on one of his fat bikes at the Sliabh League Cliffs in Donegal. Photo: Owen Clarke Photography.

Are you a native of Donegal?

I was born in Derry, but my granny was born in Gweedore and we holidayed there every year. I lived in Derry for 20 years, then moved to Donegal where I have been for the last 27 years, the last eight of which have been on Tory Island.

What was your inspiration for creating Off the Beaten Path Tours?

As a biking and outdoor enthusiast, I’ve spent a good deal of my time exploring the shores and hidden pathways across all of Donegal.

There is so much undiscovered beauty tucked inside the corners of Ireland’s ‘Forgotten County,’ and I wanted to find a way to show off the charm and allure of it all.

A cyclist on one of Donegal's beautiful beaches. Photo: Owen Clarke Photography.

For over two decades, I’ve been providing outdoor activities for tourists and locals alike. Additionally, I am an accomplished photographer and have spent countless hours soaking up the beauty of Donegal with my lens. I knew if there was a way to expose others to Donegal in an immersive and eye-opening way, they would appreciate it as much as I do.

That’s when I decided to combine the fun and adventure of electric fat bikes with scenic tours of Donegal. Off the Beaten Path was born, and nothing thrills me more than being able to combine my passion and experience to create fun adventures off the Irish coast.

The iconic Donegal cliffs. Photo: Owen Clarke Photography.

Do you have any previous background in the tourism industry?

I worked as an outdoor instructor for 4 years full time and still take the occasional group rock climbing or kayaking. I have also run landscape photography courses on a regular basis.

Explain to my readers what fat bikes are exactly and why they are the perfect kind of bike for exploring Donegal?

a cylist on a road leading to a mountain Off the Beaten Path
Fat bikes are particularly suited to rough terrain like the one shown in this photo. Courtesy of Owen Clarke Photography.

A fat bike is, simply put, a bike with extra fat tires. Extra fat tires have some advantages for cycling off-road or in very inclement weather.

As we try to be off-road as much as possible, they offer more traction and more stability and therefore enable riders to have more confidence in their riding skills.

Can people choose between electric and regular fat bikes? Is there any difference in terms of enjoyment and ability to get around the area easily?

We only have electric bikes on our tours. The electric bikes really open up cycling to more people and increase the enjoyment factor.

You no longer need to struggle on the hills as the bikes will do most of the work. I best describe the feeling as if someone is pushing you along.

Where in Donegal do you offer fat bike tours? Are there any special places that you like to highlight on your tours?

During the summer months, we offer our tours on four main routes.

A view of Horn Head. Photo: Martin Fleming for Failte Ireland.

They include Tory Island, Glenveagh National Park, Horn Head, and Dunlewy.

All four offer stunning scenic views. In the off-season, we will be running various routes all over Donegal and we can also offer bespoke tours if necessary.

Do you accompany the cyclists, or do you have other guides who do that?

The tours are fully guided either by myself or a guide.

Why do you think Donegal is the perfect place for your kind of tour company?

a castle by a lake Off the Beaten Path
An aerial view of Glenveagh Castle in County Donegal. Photo: Owen Clarke Photography.

Donegal is one of the most beautiful and undiscovered counties in Ireland. There are so many hidden gems and our tours provide the ideal fun and adventurous way of getting there.

What can people expect when they take a tour of Donegal on a fat bike tour with Off the Beaten Path?

They can expect a fun, adventurous day out with stunning views throughout.

What makes your tours different from other bicycle tours in other parts of Ireland?

Our bikes can get you to places that other ordinary e-bikes can’t get to.

How can people book an Off the Beaten Path fat bike tour?

Our tours can be booked online on our website.