An Port is a breathtakingly beautiful bay in one of the most remote
locations on mainland Ireland. It lives at the end of a winding 20km
single track road and is the gateway to Ireland’s last wilderness. Living
along this coast is a huge collection of outrageous sea stacks and
very remote sea cliffs.
This information page focuses on the stretch of coast north and south of An Port road end from Toralaydan Island in the north to RIP Dan Osman stack in the south. Further north and south from here the coast grows in height and breaks off into the monsters Sturrall, Cnoc na Mara and Tormore Island. For the full Donegal sea stack guidebook, Click Here.
This stretch of coast is open to all prevailing south-west sea motion, playing safely here requires a good working knowledge of both tides and sea conditions on your chosen day.
Directly out to sea from the road end storm beach is a collection of 6 Sea Stacks. The most obvious stack out of this group is the black phallus sitting approx 500m directly out to sea from the road end, known locally as Búd an Diabhal. (The Devils Penis) Sitting immediately to the North of Búd an Diabhal is "Chubby," these two stacks are composed of basalt and are a small part of a huge basalt vein that runs from Glencolmcille to Maghery. The other four stacks are classic wedge shapes composed of Ashfall Quartz.
Access to An Staca is a 500-meter sea passage to land on the very sheltered landward face of the Basalt island just to the landward side of the stack. This island is joined to An Staca by a skinny bridge and with a little nautical guile, this takes you to the base of An Staca.
Standing at An Port road end looking South towards the Sturral Headland there lives a chain of four sea stacks. These four sea stacks are all accessed from the same launch pad. (Grid Reference G544887) From the An Port road end, follow the coastal path south over two bridges for approximately 600 metres. Leave the path and walk towards the sea, until you are at the top of the easy angled slope and slabs overlooking Berg Stack and Vertical Picnic stack. Descend to the sea-level platforms facing onto the most Northern stack (Berg Stack). Berg Stack is easily visible from the road end beach as it can be identified by the two steep grooves running up its North face.
First Ascent of An Staca in 2011
An Ascent in 2014
Berg Stack is first and closest to the road end it has been climbed many times and was developed over the years from 1973 to 1990. It's land ward face holds 15, 20m high routes up to E1 5b in difficulty.
A tad to the South of Berg Stack sits "Vertical Picnic" a thinner 30m stack, access is by stack hopping across Berg Stack and a swim. In the centre of the seaward face, climb from the very tidal platform to a superb wee cave and spacious ledge at 4 metres. On superb wave washed black rock, climb the groove directly above to a smaller stance and continue to the summit on the steep left-hand crack/corner line. A very calm sea is required to access this stack.
The final two stacks in this chain sit a further 600m South of the road end and involve a superb 600m paddle from the Berg Stack launch pad.
"Dan Osman R.I.P." and "Osmoreregulation" are two triangular peaked stacks who sit in a committing location. The huge sea cliffs that overlook these two stacks are loose, broken and don't allow any sane method of escape if Neptune makes an appearance.
Standing on the summit of the 50m high "Dan Osman RIP" will live long in the memory as the sense of isolation, commitment and mild peturbment at your situation is quite overwhelming.
A kilometre to the North of An Port lives a cauldron of five sea stack all centred around the 90m high Toralaydan Island. Running along the South face of Toralaydan is a chain of four sea stacks with the furthest out to sea being the twin-headed 35m high Baltic spire. This Basalt stack sits in the direct path of the full fury of the prevailing South West sea motion. Its seaward face of it's North summit holds an outstanding V.Diff climb, one of the best climbs of the grade in the country. Alas, it sits so close to the South face of Toralaydan that any sea motion is funnelled and magnified to epic proportions.
At the landward end of this chain sits a huge triangular stack with several easy routes to its pinpoint summit. The seaward face forms a huge arete with a massive vertical drop between the stack and Toralaydan. Climb this arete with a growing sense of exposure and malaise to its tiny summit.
Immediately to the North of Toralaydan sits Little Dan Stack, it's location and surroundings are a mindblower. Commitment to the task at hand is the key to success on this wee adventure. Access is by a very committing KM paddle from An Port and takes you to the base of the landward face of the mighty Toralaydan Island.
The massive Toralaydan Island is the daddy of the stacks in this group with a nice easy rubble and grass scramble up its landward face to a summit the size of several football pitches. The view from it's summit back towards land is breathtaking.