Gola Island in western Donegal is the epicentre of the Donegal climbing scene with well over 200 single pitch routes from Diff to E5 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 more sheltered zawns containing sections of loose rock. As a very general rule, the best of the climbing on Gola Island is in the VS to E2 grade range.
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 rainshadow 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.
The daily Gola ferry service is run by Sabba Curran (+353 (0) 872245881) and as the Gola pier is tidal it is always best to give him a call to book a sailing prior to leaving home.
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 summers morning.
The best way to orientate yourself to the location of all the crags on your first visit is to walk from the lake to the top of the main walls. This will give you an excellent overview of the island and from here it is possible to see almost all the climbing locations on the island.
Pretty much all of Gola Islands sea cliffs require calm sea's 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 the two inland crags which both offer non-tidal climbing on immaculate rock. An alternative to the climbing on Gola and which does not require the use of a ferry service, kayaking or camping is Cruit Island. Cruit Island offers the same excellent sea cliff climbing (on slightly lower sea cliffs) and is better sheltered from big sea swells than Gola Island.