595m, the Slieve League rises directly from the sea and is considered the highest cliff in Ireland. The inhabitants of Achill Island claim the Croaghaun to be the highest cliff in Europe. And that lies in Ireland as well. Oops! The Croaghaun with 664m is actually 69m higher than Slieve League. The latter is better known for it, also easier to reach and the cliffs are visible from an observation car park. We had wanted to climb both, but on Achill Island the weather was too bad. For today, however, there is good weather: it should become friendlier during the day, so that we hope not only to have to imagine the view.
We leave the car on a parking lot above Teelin and walk on the road for another 20 minutes to the end at a vantage point with coffee shop, ice cream and souvenir shop – all mobile in trailers, so that they are only put into operation in tourist weather. Even if the summit of Slieve League is still in clouds, what we see from its steep southeast flank is already quite impressive. But unusually, we hardly see any surf and the cliffs fall into the water almost seamlessly. The sea seems to be laid down, no comparison with the breakers that foamed the cars at the harbour parking place in Doolin with a brownish white gout a few days ago. The reason is probably that today there is an untypical easterly wind.
We follow a path that is so well developed with steps and gravel passages that many others walk with us in the direction of the Scregeighter, the first elevation on the edge of the cliff with a height of 308m. With increasing distance from the parking lot and more frequent bog passages, the population density decreases more and more. Mostly on the right side of the ridge we climb on tracks and through partly heavily eroded terrain up to the beginning of the so-called “One Man’s Pass”. 42 years ago I stood with my former girlfriend Gaby in Teelin at a signpost to the One Man’s Pass. Already the name was impressive. Especially the hint that this “way” is extremely dangerous in storm and wet conditions. We already had mountain experience at that time, but that scared us off. Even today, there are warning signs indicating weather hazards, the right equipment and necessary experience, and they are justified.
The “normal” hiker can bypass the key passage on the right. But for those who are safe and free of heights, there is a short, airy climb on an approx. 40 cm wide, inclined rock ridge, from which it steeply descends on both sides, to the right into the valley, through which a pilgrim path runs and to the left into the Atlantic Ocean. Since the rock over which we now climb is firm and rough, this is an uplifting feeling! But wetness or storm, from which we are fortunately spared, would be absolute knockout criteria!
The rest of the way leads again over mostly peaty and swampy meadows until we reach the end of the pilgrim path. From here we walk another kilometre over the increasingly flat cliffs to the actual summit. Unfortunately we are now in the clouds, which get wound up in Slieve League. But we already had wonderful views, the One Man’s Pass behind us – what more do we want? Anyway, we don’t want to stand in the clouds without a view. We descend via the pilgrim path. When we are back in the valley, the summit is free of course – Murphy again!
Max elevation: 563 m
Min elevation: 55 m
Total climbing: 745 m
Total descent: -746 m
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