County Donegal’s dramatic cliff-mountain

24 July 2014  Sliabh Liag

A year since the last blog entry!  After the epic summer in Wales, we had holidays in Madrid (October 2013) and Argyll (Easter 2014), with no major mountain expeditions.

For summer 2014, we decided on a camping trip to the Antrim Coast and Co. Donegal.  Spectacular coastal walks but no high mountains.  As a boy, I had visited Slieve League (correctly Sliabh Liag), sometimes (erroneously) described as the highest sea cliff in Europe, and then we had returned there in 1992.  Both times, we had viewed the cliffs from Dunbeg but hadn’t ventured far beyond the car park.

This time, I wanted to follow the path along the clifftop to the summit at 1972 ft a.s.l. along the notorious “one man’s pass”.

sliabh liag map

sliabh liag map


We drove from our campsite at Narin via Ardara, Glen Gesh and Teelin, then up the gated single track road to the car park at Bunglass, where the mountain came into view.

Sliabh Liag from Dunbeg

Sliabh Liag from Bunglass

The car park was pretty busy with tourists and an ice cream van.  The fence had been rebuilt, so it wasn’t quite as “airy” as it used to be!  We set off at 11.30 am on the built  path up the first section, with excellent views along the cliffs.

Sliabh Liag from above the car park

Sliabh Liag from above the car park

It was a fine warm sunny day, but starting to get hazy as the heat of the day built up.  Amazing views!

Sliabh Liag, looking down from 1000ft

Sliabh Liag, looking down from 1000ft

looking back to the car park from Sliabh Liag

looking back to the car park from Sliabh Liag

We soon got beyond the range of most of the tourists, and past where Cat and I had climbed in 1994.

We followed the path on over a small rocky top (Sgregeichter 308 m), then down and up again on to An SeanBhaile (435 m), passing The Eagle’s Nest, although we weren’t sure which feature that referred to.  On the slope up to Seanbhaile, two workers were doing path restoration, so we stopped for a chat.

stopping for a rest

stopping for a rest, with the pinnacles in the background


Next we approaches the series of heathery pinnacles where the mountain was at its narrowest, the location of the “one man’s path”.  Anne opted for the by-pass to the right.

This proved less scary than suggested – a short sloping rocky rib, with heathery rocky slopes falling away on both sides.  Good fun, and requiring hand as well as feet, but hardly much of a scramble, although the drop to the left was quite dramatic.

One Man's Pass, Sliabh Liag

approaching the One Man's Path, Sliabh Liag

On over a couple more bumps, and I met up with Anne again to climb to a cliff top high point.

cliff edge on the Sliabh Liag path

Anne on the cliff edge on the Sliabh Liag path

The route ahead looked pretty straightforward, over a broad plateau, with the sea cliff dropping away to the left and the Pilgrim Path coming up from the right to meet ours.  Beyond this broad plateau, the ridge narrowed again to the “one man’s pass”.

on the One Man's Pass, Sliabh Liag

on the One Man's Pass, Sliabh Liag

Not sure which is the original “One Man’s Pass”- this narrow path along a grassy ridge, or the rocky rib crossed earlier.  Anyway, this bit was very straightforward, and soon we reached the summit itself.  It had taken 2 hours 30 minutes, longer that I had expected, so time to linger and eat lunch while admiring the views.

summit of Sliabh Liag

Anne on the summit of Sliabh Liag - hazy view back to the car park

It was now getting very hazy, and so we set off back down the route we had come.  Sadly, with the heat haze, we had no good views of the coast continuing south.  The return took us only 1 hour 45 minutes, and we were back at the car by 4.15 pm, ready to sample the ice cream van’s wares!

On the drive back down, we made a brief stop at Ti Linn for coffee and wifi, just before it closed, then on down to Teelin Harbour for a good view of where we had been:

Sliabh Liag from Teelin Harbour

view of landward side of Sliabh Liag from Teelin Harbour

8 km walk
500 m climb
4 hours 45 mins


car park above Bunglass 11:30
Sliabh Liag (595 m) 14:00 – 14:30
car park above Bunglass 16:15

(written and uploaded 19/10/14)

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