Ireland // Donegal //

Climbing Slieve League


There are two routes up to the ridge of Slieve League. The less-used back one, known as Old Man’s Track, follows the signpost pointing to the mountain just before Teelin and looks up continually to the ridge, while the frontal approach follows the signs out of Teelin to BUNGLASS, swinging you spectacularly round sharp bends and up incredibly steep inclines to one of the most thrilling cliff scenes in the world, the Amharc Mór. The sea moves so far below their peak that the waves appear silent, and the 600m face glows with mineral deposits in tones of amber, white and red. They say that on a clear day it is possible to see one-third of the whole of Ireland from the summit. Sightseeing tours of the cliffs from the waters below are organized from Teelin, weather permitting.

If you want to make a full day of it, you can climb up to the cliffs from the Bunglass car park and follow the path along the top of the ridge, which eventually meets Old Man’s Track. From here One Man’s Pass, a narrow path with steep slopes on each side, leads up to the summit of Slieve League. Bear in mind that the route can often be muddy and very windy – it is certainly not advisable in misty weather or if you suffer from vertigo. From the top of Slieve League, you can either retrace your steps back to Teelin or continue west over the crest of the mountain and down the heather-tufted western slope towards the verdant headland village of MALINBEG, where there’s a sublime, crescent-shaped golden strand enclosed by a tight rocky inlet. Malinbeg itself is a village of white bungalows, with the land around ordered into long narrow strips. The Malinbeg hostel is comfortable and well-equipped and offers exhilarating views from most of its rooms. On the cliff edge a ruined Martello tower faces Rathlin O’Beirne Island, 5km offshore, a place with many folklore associations. There are occasional boats across (enquire in Teelin), but nothing to see aside from some early Christian stone relics and a ruined coastguard station.

Beyond Malinbeg, it’s relatively easy to extend your walk through MALINMORE and on to Glencolmcille. The whole distance from Teelin to Malinmore can be comfortably completed in six hours.

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