"Hiking on Slieve League Peninsula" Carrick by bokononist

Carrick Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 34 photos

In Derry, I decided to head west to see a part of Ireland I hadn't seen before -County Donegal, home to some of the last remaining Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas and some of the most stunning landscapes on the island. Unfortunately, rural means that buses to the less trafficked areas (outside of Donegal Town and Letterkenny) are infrequent. One bus a day goes out to the Slieve League peninsula. Slieve League itself is the highest sea cliffs in Europe - look closely at the picture above to see the waves - that'll give you a sense of perspective. These are BIG cliffs - at 2000 feet they are three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher. You can stay in nearby Carrick or Kilcar, or in between them, as I did - but beware that you have to hike two miles from the hostel to the nearest bus stop and another couple miles to either town.
From where I stayed between Carrick and Kilcar (both tiny, tiny towns with little more than a pub or two), it took me 8 hours - all of daylight in the dead of winter - to hike roundtrip to the cliffs, but the view was definitely worth it, as was the view of the sun rising over Tileen bay (Tileen is an even tinier town you pass through on the way to the cliffs). If you're lucky, one of the locals will offer you a ride to Tileen or Carrick, but be prepared to walk (or bike).
Now, a couple precautions: these are big cliffs and it gets VERY windy up there. In the winter, when I went, it also gets extremely icey. If you decide to hike the cliffs themselves (you can go there or to Bunglas, lower cliffs from which to view Slieve League), use extreme caution. It is not uncommon for people to be swept off them into the sea. I am not kidding here. There is a pass called One Man's Pass that is about 50 feet long and 2 feet wide, with sheer drops on either side. A gust of wind can knock you off easily. Check the weather conditions before you go up, please, and ask the locals if they think it's a good time to go.
Also, bring a flashlight if you plan on hiking from Carrick or one of the B&B's (or the one hostel where I stayed), especailly in the winter. Donegal is very rural and you don't want to get stuck in the dark not knowing which path to take, and the hike will take you longer than expected.

This is the view from the pastures near the hostel where I stayed. The water is Teelin bay, and the town across is Teelin, a Gaeltacht hamlet with only one pub. To the left would be the ocean, and the far right is Carrick. The mountains in front are actually Slieve League, but you have to go all the way to Carrick at the end of the bay and around because there is no way to cross the bay.

Early morning when I set out on my hike. The view is the bay and the ocean, the mountains are Bunglas and to the right of them is Slieve League.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:beautiful scenery, breathtaking cliffs, friendly people
  • Cons:hard to get to, very rural, dangerous cliffs
  • In a nutshell:be prepared
  • Last visit to Carrick: Jan 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (3)

  • margaretvn's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2004 at 1:37 AM

    great writing and lovely photos

  • darthmilmo's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2003 at 2:06 PM

    Lovely pics Adrienne. Thanks for sharing your latest travels.

  • kaloz's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2003 at 11:27 PM

    léir go bhfuil an Chultúrlann lán fuinnimh arís i ndiaidh laetha saoire na Nollag, agus tá a lán imeachtaí beartaithe acu da réir.


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