Wild Atlantic Ways

Largely overlooked until recently the small island of Owey, lying just off the Atlantic coast in Donegal, offers a trad climbing paradise with granite cliffs, rising up to 80m high, brimming with 3 star adventures from Vdiff to E7.

As a climber I search for adventures. For as long as I have been climbing I have been intrigued by the notion of exploring and climbing new routes. I started climbing in Scotland ten years ago and when I came back to Ireland I discovered a wealth of exploring to do with vast possibilities for new routing and discovering new crags.

To rediscover County Donegal as a climber was a wonderful experience. I spent many a summer holiday there as a child, dodging rain showers, exploring vast empty stretches of coastline, and messing about on beautiful secluded beaches. Returning to spend time there over the last few years as a climber, with an immense rugged coastline to explore has been just fantastic.

I had heard rumours about Owey’s climbing potential, some good and some bad. Apparently the rock quality wasn’t as good as its neighbour Gola Island. Gola has always been one of the most popular climbing spots in Donegal, but I was sure that Owey had something better. There was a good deal of recorded routes, up to E1, which sounded interesting, but I was under the impression that it had some wonderful potential to be developed. I had seen a little thumbnail picture on the Irish Climbers website which read “Holy Jaysus wall, No takers yet”. It looked like a weird chasm with a steep wall with some cracks that might be E2. But the fact that someone had described it as the “Holy Jaysus wall”, must have meant it was gobsmacking. With this in mind I persuaded my friend Kevin Kilroy to come out for an adventure.

Our first outing was in July 2013. Not sure about the situation regarding the boat crossing and a little timid about talking to the local islanders we settled on bringing kayaks and paddling ourselves out. This would also give us the option of circumnavigating the Island and spying out the biggest crags and the best lines.


You can read the full article in Issue 140 of Climb on sale now

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