Dominating the south coast of Donegal is the 596 metres high mountain overlooking the Atlantic Ocean called Slieve League. This Irish mountains south face runs directly from its summit into the Atlantic Ocean far below. It is the mountains south face which provides stunning coastal scenery and is very easily accessible from the Bunglass viewpoint at its eastern end. It is very easy indeed to drive to Bunglass Viewpoint and view these stunning cliffs with minimal walking.
Beyond the Bunglass viewpoint leave your vehicle and follow the path on foot to Slieve Leagues summit for an outstanding high-level ridge walk above the ocean far below. This path takes you on a hike with outstanding views in all directions as the ground falls sharply to both the north and south as the path follows the skyline to the summit of the mountain.
The two main walks to the summit of Slieve League are the Bunglass road and the inland Pilgrims Path. The Bunglass Road route is by far the busiest as it simply follows the main and only access road to the Bunglass Viewpoint at its far end. At present in December 2020 it is still possible to drive to the very end of the road to the Bunglass viewpoint. This viewpoint at this car park is arguably the best view of the Slieve League cliffs as from here you can see most of the coast all the way west to Rathlin O'Birne Island. From the last car park at the road end follow on foot the path along the coast and past the large viewing platform this path follows the skyline to the summit of Slieve League.
The Pilgrims Path is a much easier and more sheltered walk starting in a very small car park inland of the main Slieve League access at Bunglass. On the main road out of Carrick just before Teelin take the signposted road to the Pilgrims path car park. From here on foot, the Pilgrims path is a nearly drivable untarred road that takes you to the summit of Sliabh Leirg a Dachtáin. From here the summit is an airy walk across One Man's Past to the west.
On the 9th of August 2020, Slieve League got its first known BASE jump when Greg McEntee successfully jumped from the skyline clifftops and landed his parachute on the storm beach at the base. He jumped from a section of cliff-top known locally as Nead an Iolar or The Eagles Nest. This section of Slieve League is the highest and steepest part of the cliffs directly above the Giant's Table and Chair sea stacks.
This section of Slieve League overlooks the Bunglass viewpoint and provides the only cliff face that is steep and high enough to allow the canopy to open. The jump was a difficult and technical affair as there are less than two hundred feet of the vertical cliff below the exit point. Which gives very little time after jumping to get a parachute open and to get safely under the control of the canopy. Directly below this is a steep heathery talus covered slope with a further very steep cliff below, down onto the storm beach landing. The only landing for this exit point is a very tidal section of the storm beach just inland of the Giants Chair sea stack. This section of beach is only accessible for around an hour or so at low tide and is a shallow raised shingle bay below a steep section of the cliff above. The rest of this storm beach running towards Bunglass is covered in, car to van-sized boulders making our little tidal bay the only sane place to land a parachute on this section of the coast below the exit point.
It was a 3 am wake up to arrive at Bunglass for 3.30 am to catch the turn of the low tide at about 5 am. I met Greg at the Bunglass road-end car park and we immediately went up to the clifftop exit point on the Eagles Nest. When we arrived there, there was a shade more wind blowing over the clifftops than Greg would have liked. This wind was blowing over the cliffs causing it to eddy and spiral in the lee of the clifftops into where Greg intended to jump. With a BASE jump of this nature, he only has a few seconds after jumping to get his parachute open and get in control underneath it. These few seconds after jumping off the cliff are crucial to the success of the jump, so we loitered in the semi-darkness. Greg began to calculate distances, wind speed, the wind direction of the eddies using grass and heather movement on the talus slopes below. I made my self useful and hammered a heavy-duty stake into the soft ground well back from the clifftops. This stake is the anchor used to static line his pilot shute after he jumps off the cliff. Greg had suspected, calculated and confirmed when he arrived at the exit point that he would need this method of opening his parachute on a technical jump of this nature.
At 6.30 am and with a final check of everything Greg ran and jumped off the cliff into a freefall towards the talus slope below. A few seconds later he was under his canopy and was soaring out away from Slieve League under his parachute. After a few minutes of a controlled canopy descent and as he approached the landing bay on the storm beach the spiralling winds were preventing him from reaching the only safe landing place. Using his 14 years of airtime experience he landed in a wee rock pool just beside the storm beach and so Slieve League had its first BASE jump, Nice One Sir.
The general nature of the rock found on Slieve League is very poor indeed. The mountainside has a huge volume of steep grassy slopes between what exposed rock there is. When you stand at the Bunglass viewpoint there is a very obvious wall of rock on the skyline above the Giants sea stacks. (Where Greg McEntree BASE jumped from above) This wall is perhaps the only place with potential for climbing but alas it is incredibly loose with many huge blocks poised ready to fall off.
An exception to this general loose rock rule is Carrigan Head, the area around the watchtower on the Bunglass approach road. The rock here has a very different quality and there is quite a bit of recorded climbs and further potential. The guidebook for this area Sail Rock Guidebook
Both the Giants Chair and Table sea stacks below this wall have been climbed by their easiest route. These stacks provide a fun day mountaineering out in an outrageous location. Access is by steep descent up and down the heather slopes directly opposite the stacks. Golden rules if there are sheep on the slopes then if you have a little mountaineering guile this will be a reasonably safe way down.