Friday 20 October 2017

WATCH: Donegal's secret sea arch is straight out of Game of Thrones

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Last month, Malta's famous 'Azure Window' collapsed into the sea. Donegal's Great Pollet Sea Arch is still standing. Spectacularly.

Located in Fanad, the little-known sea arch is another hidden gem in a county already boasting Northern Lights, Star Wars locations and lakes beneath lakes.

Our video footage (above) was captured by climbing guide and adventurer Iain Miller of Unique Ascent, who undertook an expedition to the Great Pollet Sea Arch with fitness expert Pat Divilly and cancer survivor Nikki Bradley last month.

The trio successfully located, climbed and abseiled off the 25-metre arch. Although relatively easy to access, it is rarely climbed, Miller says.

Climbing the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
Climbing the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
Climbing the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
The Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
Nikki Bradley on the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
Pat Divilly on the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie

"It sits in the perfect location just out to sea from the base of a 30-metre sea cliff," he adds. "The lonely east coast of the Fanad peninsula has enough unclimbed rock for easily several summers worth of play."

From the top, the view was "absolutely stunning," adds Bradley, who climbs with crutches after undergoing two hip replacements due to a rare form of bone cancer.

Nikki was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma  at age 16. Now cancer-free, she is a public speaker and founder of the 'Fighting Fit for Ewing's' (FFFE) campaign.

"I would highly recommend people make the trip to Fanad to see this master piece for themselves," she says... albeit with a warning attached.

Climbing the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
Climbing the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie
Climbing the Great Pollet Sea Arch, Co Donegal. Photo: Iain Miller, UniqueAscent.ie

"I wouldn't recommend you attempt to climb it without an expert, such as Iain. Parts of the climb were slick with grease from rain and I struggled at times to find grip."

Bradley and Miller have completed several daredevil adventures together, including a breathtaking climb of the 200m Sturrall Ridge, and an abseil from the Fanad Lighthouse - challenges that push themselves, inspire others and promote Donegal.

Not that Donegal needs the promotion.

This year alone, the county has been voted one of the coolest places to travel in 2017 by National Geographic Traveller UK, and named Ireland's Hidden Gem in Independent.ie and Weekend Magazine's Reader Travel Awards.

"The entire county could be described as a hidden gem!" Bradley says.

"The deeper into the Donegal wilderness you go, the more sea stacks, rock faces and beautiful hill walks you will find."

Ironically, the trio climbed the arch during the same week that Malta's famous Azure Window, which featured in Game of Thrones, collapsed during a storm.

"It felt very fitting to climb the Pollet that week," she says.

Learn more about Nikki Bradley on nikkibradleyspeaks.com and on Facebook here. Iain Miller's Unique Ascent is at uniqueascent.ie; Pat Divilly is on Facebook here.

NB: The activities described in this article were undertaken with a professional guide at the climbers' own risk. Climbing can be extremely dangerous, and should never be undertaken without suitable levels of expertise or fully qualified guides.

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