This is our second post in a series of short articles on the islands of Donegal and on the most popular of rock climbing venues on each of them. Today we follow up with another of its jewels: Gola Island.
Gola Island in western Donegal is the epicentre of the Donegal's climbing scene, with well over 200 single pitch routes on the granite sea cliffs and inland outcrops scattered throughout the island. In the main, the rock is immaculate, sea-washed granite, with only some of the sheltered zawns containing sections of loose rock.
What Gola Island provides is outstanding rock climbing in a wild, remote and truly beautiful setting. The island sits far out in County Donegal's rain shadow and it is not unusual to be climbing on the island in bright sunshine and blue skies, whilst the rest of the county is under a deluge of heavy rain.
By far the best place to stay on the island is to wild camp between the Loch and the sandy beach at the head of the huge sea inlet on the western side of the island. This campsite allows an easy 10-minute walk to all of the islands climbing locations and provides an outstanding place to wake up on a summer morning.
Pretty much all of Gola Island’s sea cliffs require calm seas to safely climb on them. If the sea is bouncing from the South West, then the Binatok Bay and the North West Zawn offer sheltered climbing. If the sea is bouncing from the west, then there are two inland crags, which offer non-tidal climbing on immaculate rock.
Iain Miller is a guidebook author, rock climber and hill walker living working and playing on the sea cliffs, sea stacks, uninhabited islands and mountain ranges of County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. He is the author of this Gola Island Climbing Guide, which is a great resource for anyone planning to go sea-stack climbing in Donegal.