11 Aug 2016
Sliabh Liag cliffs are undeniably impressive, and at 601 m (1,972 ft) nearly three times taller than the better known Cliffs of Moher – a mere 214 m at their highest. The Sliabh Liag Cliffs are amongst the highest in Europe and are now more accessible than ever before by land or by sea.
If you go by boat, Teelin harbour provides access to the cliffs within walking distance. One can tie up at the pier at the fish processing plant, pick up a visitor mooring, or anchor in the spacious and beautiful harbour, surrounded by high hills and stunning homes.
Teelin was one of the most important fishing ports in centuries past, processing even more fish than Killybegs in its day. See the Sliabh Liag cliffs from the sea with a fantastic Sliabh Liag Boat Trip run by Paddy Byrne who operates from Teelin Pier. It is a very different point of view, and well worth the trip. Sliabh Liag Boat Trips offer a guided tour, opportunities for angling, swimming and you might even catch sight of local dolphins, blue fin tuna or even whales. You can see the spectacular colours of the rocks on the cliff face and the nesting birds that live there.
Teelin village itself is about 3/4 mile from the harbour, and the views of the harbour from the road leading up are spectacular. The Rusty Mackerel pub, once owned by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, a member of Altan one of Ireland’s most famous folk acts, is a good choice for a pint and an evening meal.
The Slieve League Cliffs Centre, run by Paddy and Siobhan Clarke on the road leading to Slieve League in Teelin Carrick, is all about the local culture, foods and crafts delivered with a warm Donegal welcome and a touch of humour. Ti Linn restaurant offers artisanal cuisine in a casual cafeteria style atmosphere, and attached to it is a craft shoppe displaying beautiful local Donegal knitwear and other goods.
Another option for pre- or post-walk entertainment can be found In nearby Glencolmcille: the unique Folk Village comprises of a series of restored exhibition cottages, and a walk through history can be had in a short few hours – all in a spectacular setting overlooking the sea. Traditional craft demonstrations are also often underway.
You can also head to Ardara, named the best village to live in in Ireland, which has even more history in store but also promises a gateway to serious adventure. Visit in March and you can enjoy the village’s annual (and hugely popular) walking festival, along with visitors from all over the world. Beaches, festivals, golfing, cycling, fishing, kayaking and so much more is all on offer in this historical setting.
When you’re ready to begin your walk, head back to Teelin: there are actually two paths leading to the cliffs. the Pilgrims Way is the main route, that runs alongside the road. The walk commences in Teelin, where amblers can slowly climb the Pilgrim’s Path to the church ruins and holy well on the eastern summit of Sliabh Liag. Walkers have the option to proceed along the One Man’s Pass, or to descend the mountain via Bunglas or the Pilgrims Path. There are spots for picnicking, views over Donegal Bay, a Napoleonic Tower, birds and animals grazing: plenty to keep the mind occupied.
This second, more treacherous path along One Man's Pass at the very ridge of the cliffs is an experience in itself. It's literally a path wide enough for one pair of feet, with precipices to negotiate along the way. Not for the faint of heart.
Sliabh Liag is maintained unspoiled in its natural state for your enjoyment. The lighting can be spectacular – at times, even surreal. There are no services at the summit, so walkers are advised to be self-sufficient: bring water and food along with a jacket, and you’re guaranteed to have a truly memorable experience.