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The Climbing Club • View topic - Slieve League - Donegal County - Ireland

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:40 pm 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Location: Bashing Brush
Building on our experience with bogs and driving Irish roads the previous day, Michelle and I got another alpine start, departing Dungloe a bit before 1100. Once again, we managed to miss the grocery on the way out of town (but found it on the way back) and took a rather scenic route before joining up with the N56.

At this point, it's worth taking a moment to make a few observations about roads in northwest Ireland. While driving on the left side of the road and shifting with the left hand actually starts to feel fairly natural after a day or two, only those born and bred in Donegal seem capable of achieving the posted speeds on various roadways. The pecking order of roads in Ireland go from M (motorway - much like I-5) to N (major - but go directly through down centers, which can be a bit "congested") to R (somewhat minor and not really wide enough for two cars to pass) to generally unmarked and unsigned. Near Dublin, the N's are wide and easy to drive, but in Donegal, the N56 is a continuous series of narrow bridges, uneven dips, and blind corners - all marked at 100 kph (60 miles hour). In the States, most of these roads would probably be marked one way or speeds limited to 25 mph. Of course, if this were the case, it would take *forever* to get anywhere in Ireland, but that didn't stop me from wishing other drivers wouldn't keep flying around blind corners on my side of the road at the posted speed.

For reasons which remain not entirely clear, Nunu directed us off the R250 onto a unmarked country road through a lovely valley. Michelle enjoyed looking at the scenery while I focused on not colliding with other cars or colliding with stone walls while avoiding collisions with other cars. We managed to reach Carrick in good order and picked up signs for Slieve League (or Slab Liag) which directed us further source on a series of increasingly narrow and winding roads which culminated in a series of single lane, blind corner, high grade hairpins. Bracing. The people I get stuck behind on the North Cascades highway would be reduced to gibbering wrecks. Eventually we reached a parking area, but discovered this was not the end of the road, just the last place the larger trailers were allowed. From here, we passed a sign announcing all manner of dangers to vehicles proceeding beyond that point, but found the remaining 1.5 km to be entirely pleasant and concluded at a nice parking area and stunning views of Slieve League.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Slieve League, the sea cliffs here are the highest in Europe, rising 2000' in a near-vertical aspect from the crashing waves of the North Atlantic. A fishing vessel bobbed like a tiny cork as we set out along the trail at the ripe out of noon thirty. Officially, the trail from the parking area ends at a viewpoint and the walking path to Slieve League takes an extremely well-built, but extremely boring route up from the valley to a point near the summit. Michelle and I instead took the more classic (and obviously still traveled path) along the sea cliffs amidst lush carpets of closely cropped grass (by sheep), heather, and wind-weathered rock. 2/3 of the way to Slieve League (which is the proper name of the high point on the sea cliffs), we briefly parted ways with Michelle losing a bit of elevation to have a closer look at some sheep and me staying high on a rocky arete known as "One Man's Path". Despite some grim postings on Irish hill walking websites, this proved quick straightforward. A 3rd class move to get on the arete, then class 2/3 for all 100' of its length. Which is not to say that it wasn't attention getting with 30 mph wind gusts and some significant exposure, because it was rather attention getting.

Beyond this point, the path mellowed considerably. Our paths converged at the ruined foundation of an old church where we had another lunch of bread, cheddar, and biscuits (the custard creams are fantastic) before continuing up to the summit proper. Here, another "One Man's Path" is marked on the map, but it's actually quite wide in most places and the biggest difficulty is avoiding the boggy sections. Again, I find it defies physics that this much water can remain this high on such a steep slope, but I digress. The summit plateau was broad and exceptionally windy. The sculpted turf, wind, and pools of water might make one think one was standing at the edge of the water amongst tide pools rather than a dizzying 2000' straight up. After the obligatory photos and a lovely double rainbow, we turned and retraced our steps.

The way back went much as the way up, complete with wind, shutter delay, and sheep poop. We returned to the cars around 1730, tired but happy. The drive back also went well, with Nunu avoiding scenic detours and taking us on a direct route back to Dunglue. Dinner and pint at the pub rounded out a solid day.

Photos to follow once back stateside.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:00 pm 
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UW Climber
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Location: Edmonds WA
Pretty vivid TR. I wish speed limits were set to 60 mph on small roads here.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:20 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:40 am 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:39 pm
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Location: Bashing Brush
Now fortified with .

A few of my favorites:

Slieve League from the parking area
Image

Michelle on the summit
Image

Flagstone pillar along the sea cliffs
Image


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:53 am 
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Longshanks
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Location: Denver
Nice! I really like your shots from this trip!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:09 pm 
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receiving spoon
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Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:29 am
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That last picture is super cool! That's some neat rock.


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