THE ASCENT PROJECT AT ERRIGAL MOUNTAIN
Sustainable access to the increasingly popular Errigal Mountain
Errigal Mountain, one of seven ASCENT project sites, located in North West Donegal, Ireland is facing challenges due to increased visitor numbers and unregulated access there.
Standing at 751 metres, the quartzite peak is the tallest of the Derryveagh Mountains and the highest peak in County Donegal. Errigal Mountain is an iconic landmark, dominating the landscape of the North West, with its name and imagery being used extensively locally, nationally and internationally raising the mountain’s appeal and profile.
Over last 20 years, the mountain has become a popular destination for hill walkers to enjoy the panoramic views from the summit. Errigal is contained within the designated Natura 2000 sites of Cloghernagore Bog and Glenveagh National Park Special Area of Conservation and also the Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains Special Protected Area. With 15,000 visitors per year, growing concerns were mounting about Errigal’s ability to withstand the pressures from increased visitor numbers across multiple access routes on the vulnerable natural asset.
In response to ongoing erosion at Errigal Mountain, the Errigal Stakeholders Committee agreed on a shared vision to ‘facilitate the responsible enjoyment of Errigal in a way that protects its special qualities and benefits the local community’. Locally, Donegal County Council is working with the local community and the Errigal Stakeholders, through the ASCENT project.
ASCENT (Apply Skills and Conserve our Environment with New Tools) is the vehicle through which that vision will be achieved for Errigal. Commencing in 2016, ASCENT is delivering on research on the impacts of erosion by assessing the current condition, quantifying pressure on Errigal, discovering visitor experiences and trends, raising an awareness of the recreational impact, implementing a Management Plan to guide future maintenance and management in a balanced way, and designing and testing a sustainable solution for the repair and restoration of the habitats. Working in partnership with all the stakeholders, local community and project partners in Finland, Iceland, Norway and Northern Ireland, in a way that is focussed on promoting sustainable access, is paramount for the long term conservation of Donegal’s highest and iconic mountain. ASCENT is making a positive contribution towards the continued public enjoyment of Errigal while at the same time safeguarding the mountain for future generations to come.
Did you know?
Errigal’s name has caused much debate.
While some believe that ‘An Earagail’ originated from ‘the oratory’ near the mountain from the Latin ‘Oraculum’. The Duke of Argyll also stated that ‘Ear’ from earth and ‘geal‘ from white, due to the loose scree on the coastal side, while mariners who used the mountain for navigational purposes from sea, referred to ‘Oir-Geal’ – the Eastern Brightness.
Ms. Rosita Mahony
Ascent Project Partner
WHAT OUR COMMUNITY HAS TO SAY
Errigal is the highest mountain in Donegal which is easily accessible from the County Road. Over recent years with the ever increasing visitors to the mountain, the fragile peatland has been badly eroded and also the scree at the higher level has been damaged. A proper upland path will protect the mountain and provide a route for visitors to responsibly enjoy the location. This will also encourage visitors to spend more time in the Northwest area and experience other walks which will economically benefit the local community.
— Paul Roarty
Chairperson on Coiste Forbartha Dhún Lúiche
I try to climb Errigal at least once a month with the dogs. I’ve been up the likes of Kilimanjaro and Mount Kinabalu, but Errigal is really something special. Errigal does more for my mental and physical health than anything or anywhere else in Ireland.
— Andrew Bratton
The ASCENT Project has been instrumental in working with the Errigal Stakeholders Group, including local community representatives, and relevant experts, in researching and determining the most appropriate interventions required to protect this beautiful and very accessible mountain from erosion, particularly on the normal route to the summit which is increasingly affected by heavy foot traffic. The work undertaken by ASCENT has enabled the identification of appropriate path repair and habitat restoration solutions to help protect this sensitive environment. ASCENT’s work is equally important in supporting the case for the resources essential to implementing these solutions, so that we can bring quality, sustainable path work, proactive visitor management and environmental protection to Errigal.
— Ursula Mc Phearson
Former President Mountaineering Ireland and member of the Errigal Stakeholders Group
ASCENT Partner Sites
VISIT OUR PARTNER LOCATION SITES