Slieve League: The Lesser Known Sea Cliffs of Ireland

Shear drops of over 300m!

In doing a spot of research for this post, I found so many more references to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare than I did for the Slieve League (Grey Mountain), County Donegal.  However, it’s the quartzite cliffs of Slieve League that are actually the highest sea cliffs, not just in Ireland, but in all of Europe too with an almost shear drop of 601m (just under 2000 feet).

Map of the general area

My husband and I were based for a few nights at a little B&B outside Donegal.  Our first full day in Ireland, was actually spent in Northern Ireland, visiting the Giant’s Causeway.  The day before this particular geological foray was the day we arrived at Dublin airport and drove all the way up to Donegal.  Not content with that 3-4 hour journey alone, we dropped off our luggage and scooted off along the coastal road towards Carrick and then on to Teelin to visit the sea cliffs.  It was, after all, the most glorious weather – and we didn’t want to squander the sun. – The following day was drizzly and grey… A reminder to make sure that we seize the day!

Route of the coastal walk/track from lower to upper car park

After parking the car at the lower of the two car parks this tourist attraction has to offer (both are free), we walked up and down hills all along the coastal road for 1.5km until we reached the top car park and the main view-point for this spectacular site/sight.

The view back across the Bay of Donegal

The last 500m of this road is single-track and is not for the faint-hearted should you choose to drive instead of getting yourself some exercise!  The track is, in places, perilously close to the edge – with some impressive drops down to the sea.

View of the coastal track on the approach to Slieve League

Given that it was late afternoon, and we would have to walk the return 1.5km and drive back to Donegal, we did not walk up the steep pathway, appropriately named One Man’s Path that offers views from the top.  This section is not recommended on windy or misty days, for obvious reasons.

The glorious cliffs of Slieve League

Never having visited the more popular Cliffs of Moher, we can’t compare the two sites for their natural beauty.  What I can say is that visiting the Slieve League cliffs we encountered few other souls, and could enjoy the beauty of the setting far from any madding crowds whatsoever.

A strategically placed watchtower

Perhaps the best thing about these sea cliffs is the fact that it is still unspoilt because of the remote access.  Slieve League is out-of-the-way and definitely not the most straight-forward of destinations to reach..but that’s what I loved most about it 😉

A rare sighting indeed... proof I was there!

August, 2010


16 thoughts on “Slieve League: The Lesser Known Sea Cliffs of Ireland

  1. Fantastic photos. I have a strong desire to travel the world and posts like this reaffirms that. My boyfriend and I would also be the type to seek out the less touristy area. We love “off the beaten path”. Looking forward to future posts

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment! Off the beaten path is my preferred form of travel, although I do love to visit European cities… I’ve got some posts lined up for some more touristy locations, but will always try and look at things from a slightly different angle!
      I hope that you can upgrade your “strong desire to travel” and actually get the opportunity to follow your dreams! Best wishes, and happy travels 🙂

    1. Thanks Student – I’m not trying to blog too much geology, more about the travels…but inevitably some geology will sneak up and have to be included! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  2. I enjoyed yur Irish cliff pictures. If I am correct I believe my grandmother came from that part of Ireland. My latest travels were to Egypt where I was a consultant. It is not a great place to be right now but when it cools down you may enjoy it. As a geologist you are aware of the problem with the delta sinking and the salt water in the ground water used for irrigation ruining the farms.
    I look forward to following your blog.
    James the libraryman

    1. Hi James, yes I think I would enjoy visiting Egypt someday. I guess the reason for the delta sinking would be down to the fact that the dams up-river of the Nile are silting up – preventing the material that would normally “feed” the delta & keep it stable from reaching it’s destination? It sounds like an awful situation that would need quite the engineering feat to resolve.
      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  3. Donegal is my home county and, although I haven’t lived there for nearly 20 years, I still miss it. Your lovely pictures make me lonesome! On a good day when the sun is shining, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. Hope you’re enjoying your stay there. The natives are friendly!

    1. Hi Gaga Lady! Our stay in Ireland was fantastic – and we pretty much had fantastic weather for almost the whole week we visited Ireland. It is a lovely part of the world and I hope to return there sometime soon! The natives sure are friendly – very welcoming and hospitable indeed! Thanks so much for the kind comment 🙂

    1. Hi Timm, if you think the description and photos are good – just you wait until you do get there and see if for yourself! Hopefully you get a clear day to marvel at this lovely spot – and give the man on the bike with the ice-cream a reason to keep going back! Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Thank you Lisa, the day was super sunny and I thought some of the photos looked a bit “glarey” and the polarizer didn’t seem to be effective at all. But in the end, they aren’t soooo bad. I also like the watchtower photo the most. It is a nice, calming image 🙂

    1. Hi Rosie – I have very fond memories of this spot too. We had such gorgeous weather on that day.
      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

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