Continuing further down the Wild Atlantic Way, we find ourselves in southern County Donegal. This is the area known for the world’s highest sea cliffs.
Okay, before I get deluged with comments from other parts of Ireland and the rest of the world, measuring the height of sea cliffs can be done a number of different ways with different results, but suffice it to say, for this article, these are the world’s tallest! (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)
On to the Slieve League Sea Cliffs
A drive west along R263 from Killybegs will bring you to the little town of An Charraig. Turn south here, following the Wild Atlantic Way signs, and it’s about 7km to the cliffs. You’ll be following Teelin Road (aka Teileann) with some great views of the Glen River, and you’ll know you’re on course when you reach Ti Linn artisan cafe.
I think the Irish take great delight in making their spelling and pronunciation so similar and so complicated that only a true Gaeltacht can get it right. Geez. But, meanwhile back at the café…
Ti Linn (aka Slieve League Cliffs Centre) is a great place to stop for souvenirs, beverages and those last minute necessities you forgot to bring. It’s the only place to buy anything for the remaining miles to the cliffs and back again. The free Wi-Fi was quite popular here, as were the restrooms. Tip: plan your major liquid refreshments when you get back from the cliffs.
Armed with water bottles, we proceeded to the Slieve League Cliffs in our shuttle bus. Many elected to hike all the way from Ti Linn to the cliffs – God love them.
Immediately upon getting out of the bus at the Bunglas viewing point, the sight of the cliffs was awe inspiring. Just a short couple steps to the edge of the precipice, and you have the perfect view of the cliffs and the wild Atlantic lapping at its base.
At almost 2,000 feet in height, the cliffs are truly amazing even from the parking lot, but we wanted to see them closer. An easily navigated hiking path takes you northeast and then wraps you around to the northwest to get what I think were the best views. At one point, you are looking straight down 1,500 feet to the surf. (Watch your step – no guard rails here.)
Granted, you’ll do a fair amount of stepping up onto large rocks, so it’s not a walk in the park, but anyone with good leg muscles and a good sense of balance can handle it. Walking sticks make it that much easier coming back down.
7,000 years ago, the inhabitants of this part of Ireland considered the cliffs to be the end of the world. As such, these high cliffs were ideal places to build their places of worship since they were so close to heaven.
Much further hikes can be enjoyed, even walking cross country for an over-night journey, but it would behoove you to do that with a guide like Sean Mullan who accompanied us up to the top. He’s been walking these trails for years and is an expert guide. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at www.walktalkireland.com.
Next article in the Wild Atlantic Way series: County Donegal – the rest of the southern shore
Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about travel destinations, photography and tech topics across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at email@example.com with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. For travel ideas in Cleveland and around the world, check his Calendar of Events. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.