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    The Best Ways to Explore the Slieve League Cliffs

    Nearly three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher, the massive Slieve League cliffs are still off most people’s tourism radars.

    Located in the heart of Donegal – nicknamed Ireland’s Forgotten County for good reason! – the Slieve League cliffs are one of Ireland’s best-kept gems.

    Find out here the best way to experience the wilderness of the Slieve League cliffs.

    By Dawn Rainbolt, Marketing Executive
    More by Dawn

    Insider's Guide

    Check out our Insiders guide for everything related on the great Slieve League cliffs of Ireland.

    Want to enjoy a Slieve League hike? Or maybe just want to learn more about where the Slieve League cliffs are.

    Whatever your question is then just check out list relating to the Irish Slieve League cliffs in Donegal. Just click one of the links below to be taken straight to more information on each topic.

     

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    What are the Slieve League Cliffs?

    Slieve League Cliffs

    Hiking the Slieve League Cliffs in midsummer.

    What makes the Slieve League cliffs so special? For starters, their height! They are 601 m (or 1,972ft) at their highest point, making them just about three times the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher (which clocks in at 155 m or 509 ft). In fact, they fall just shy from the highest cliffs in Ireland, beat by the Croaghaun Cliffs on Achill Island, whose highest elevation reaches 688 m. Both Croaghaun and Slieve League rank right at the top of Europe’s highest sea cliffs.

    Where is Slieve League?

    These massive cliffs are located in County Donegal in the northwest corner of Ireland. Nicknamed Ireland’s ‘Forgotten County,’ a foray into Donegal tells it all. Donegal is a wild, rural place – full of vast bogs, rugged mountains, forlorn coasts and quiet farms. Donegal is possibly the coolest county in Ireland – in fact, Donegal was voted the Coolest Place on Earth by National Geographic Traveller.

    The Best Slieve League Cliffs Viewpoint

    Slieve League Cliffs

    Hike along the brilliant Slieve League Cliffs, among Europe’s highest.

    The most famous way to photograph the cliffs is from the Bunglas Viewpoint. Past Teelin village, follow the road until you get to the car park. You can park there, and walk up the road, about a mile (1.7 km) through a set of gates (as a general rule, always close such gates behind you as they’re meant to keep livestock from straying) up the small, winding road through sheep pastures. Or, you can drive up the road, and park at the upper car park if there’s space.

    Rounding the final bend, you’ll get your first view of the massive Slieve League cliffs! Leaving the car behind, you can walk out around the Bunglas viewpoint for the classic view of the cliffs. Get your cameras ready! This is the most photogenic viewpoint of Slieve League. On a clear day, turn around and look behind you – you’ll get an amazing view of Ben Bulben, Ireland’s iconic table mountain, located in County Sligo.

    The Best Ways to Hike Slieve League Cliffs

    Mass Rock Slieve League Cliffs Donegal

    Exploring the remains of the mass rock on the slopes of Slieve League cliffs along the Pilgrim’s Path

    If you start from Teelin:

    Those adventurers out there itching to get out to the wilds of Donegal and Slieve League should hike the Pilgrim’s Path. To get there, follow a narrow road up from Teelin village for about a kilometre to where the road ends in a car park and trail head.

    A rough, careworn path is chiselled into the green mountainside. The Pilgrim’s Path is about 3km in length and will take you roughly 2-3 hours out and back. Or, you can continue upon One Man’s Pass, along the cliffs and down to Bunglas (see below) and either walk back along the country roads or try to arrange a taxi. This full length walk will take 4-5 hours for the whole duration, or 3-4 hours if you get a lift along the roads.

    The Pilgrim’s Path is narrow and steep – in some places, it’s rocky underfoot, and in other places, boggy. Therefore, make sure you’ve dressed appropriately in a waterproof jacket and trousers, as well as sturdy hiking boots with ankle support!

    Donegal - Pilgrim's Path Slieve League cliffs

    Hiking the Pilgrim’s Path, up the back side of Slieve League.

    The trail’s name comes from the era of Ireland’s Penal laws in the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of laws imposed on the local Irish population to force Irish Roman Catholic dissenters to convert to the “true faith” of the English Anglican Church.

    This meant that official Catholic worship was outlawed, but many Irish refused to convert, so they met in secret in remote, rural places, such as Slieve League, where they said mass from allotted “mass rocks.” Along the Pilgrim’s Path, you’ll find the remains of a Mass Rock, a makeshift “church.”  Today it’s in ruin, but the name stuck!

    Further up, you’ll find a yellow pole marking the summit – as you round the bend, you’ll feel a wall of wind blasting over the Slieve League cliffs. Inch closer through the wind to the edge (though keep in mind there isn’t much in the way of barriers) and admire the amazing panorama of the massive cliffs and churning Atlantic below.

    If you start from the Bunglas Viewpoint:

    Hiking Slieve League Bunglas Viewpoint

    Hiking Slieve League from the Bunglas Viewpoint.

    If you prefer, you can also start hiking directly from the Bunglas Viewpoint, where you’ll get the classic views of the cliffs.  Though higher than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve League cliffs are sloping rather than sheer precipices, so it’s easier and safer to walk along the edge of the cliffs.

    Most people only follow the first section of this cliff path, built out of stone steps. But within just 15-20 mins of climbing, you’re in the wild. Follow the cliffs as long as you’d like, until you’re standing at the highest point of the Slieve League cliffs, walking amongst mountain sheep and diving sea birds.

    For the adventurous, you can keep going all the way to the Pilgrim’s Path. However, this should only be attempted by experienced hikers… you’ll see why in just a minute! First, follow the well-worn trail along the cliffs to the summit of  Cnoc Ramhar, where the path becomes eroded and boggy. The next section is the infamous One Man’s Pass. A narrow, 400m knife-like craggy edge, the land drops dramatically on each side. Less experienced hikers or those with vertigo can take the path on the right, a longer way that avoids the pass.

    One Man’s Pass connects with the Pilgrim’s Path – see above. You could then continue down to Teelin and walk along the road back to the car park, or you could try to organise a taxi.

    If these hikes sounds amazing, learn more about how you can join on our hiking trip along the Causeway Coast & Donegal.

    Find out More

     

    Food & Drink: Best place for tea and cakes?

    Head back towards Teelin village where there’s a small white building, the Tí Linn Café. This rustic cafe is the perfect place to warm up with a steaming cup of tea, a bowl of simmering soup, and nice sandwiches. There’s also a quaint craft gift shop with a nice selection of wool products, handmade crafts, local souvenirs and books about travelling in Ireland.

    Learn More Here

    What's the history connected with the Slieve League Cliffs?

    Slieve League signal towers

    One of Donegal’s many Napoleonic signal towers just below Slieve League.

    Aside from the Mass Rock, there are also remains of an early Christian monastic site (including the remnants of early beehive huts) – even traces of an older civilisation.

    More recently, there is an old signal tower dating back to the Napoleonic wars when the British (who occupied Ireland at the time) were worried about a potential French invasion (which never occurred).

    Most recent is the vestiges of the WWII era ‘EIRE’ sign, signifying Irish neutral ground. There are dozens of other signs like that dotted throughout the coastal headlands, though not all continue to be maintained.

    What makes Donegal so unique?

    Malin Head

    Hiking at Malin Head, home to Star Wars and Ireland’s northernmost point.

    Nicknamed the Forgotten County for its remoteness, Donegal was the last county to come under British rule and had therefore retained Irish heritage throughout the 1500s (long after other parts of Ireland fell under British rule) – only losing its independence with the Flight of the Earls in 1607 after a failed revolt against the Crown.

    Donegal is remote. It is wild. It is full of history and heritage and vast landscapes. In a way, it’s the closest you’ll get to “old, traditional” Ireland. Though it’s not as huge an enterprise as it once was, you’ll still find prestigious Donegal tweed clothing articles all over the county. Hidden waterfalls, forgotten neolithic sites, rugged coastlines and picturesque mountains await. In the north of the county, there’s Glenveagh National Park, Malin Head (home to Star Wars), and Lough Swilly Fjord. In the south, you get the surfing beaches, tweed weavers – and Slieve League. It’s a county with a lot to offer – and with far fewer tourists than further south.

    How can I visit Slieve League Cliffs?

    Slieve League cliffs

    Enjoying the view of Slieve League at the Bunglas Viewpoint

    For those that prefer a private trip, work with our expert travel designers to create a unique, outdoor adventure through Ireland’s wild northwest, or book our ready-made self-drive trip exploring the Causeway Coast & Donegal.

     

    Find your next adventure

    Trip Date Price Availability Book
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 17th Apr - 23rd Apr 2021 €1,7954 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 24th Apr - 30th Apr 2021 €2,1006 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 8th May - 14th May 2021 €1,7957 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 5th Jun - 11th Jun 2021 €1,7958 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 5th Jun - 11th Jun 2021 €2,1008 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 17th Jul - 23rd Jul 2021 €2,1008 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 24th Jul - 30th Jul 2021 €1,7955 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 7th Aug - 13th Aug 2021 €1,7958 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 21st Aug - 27th Aug 2021 €2,1008 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 28th Aug - 3rd Sep 2021 €1,7958 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 11th Sep - 17th Sep 2021 €1,7958 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 18th Sep - 24th Sep 2021 €2,1008 place(s) leftBook Now

    Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

    “American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture and sweeping landscapes of Ireland. Armed with a Masters Degree in Tourism Marketing and a love of writing and photography, she is Wilderness Ireland's Marketing Executive since 2017.”

    View profileMore by Dawn

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