Gap Of Dunloe

By Nigel Callender.

Ped McMahon on the slabby face of the Watchtower. Photo: Dave Flanagan

Probably the most concentrated amount of so-far-discovered bouldering in Kerry, the Gap of Dunloe offers numerous quality lines on weathered Red Sandstone that at times is almost grit-like in nature. A far cry from the pebbles found in Wicklow, the majority of problems developed here so far are quality, highball lines. So bring a few mats and spotters for peace of mind. Also, wellie make their way onto the kit list due to the generally boggy walk-ins.

Currently, lack of dry weather prevents the further development of the area as do midges in the Summer which is unfortunate, as there is a considerable amount to be found here (even if it is hard to spot at first) so long as you’re willing to walk for a few minutes.

The Watchtower area can be found about 3 (?) miles up the Gap from Kate Kearney’s Cottage, on the left side of the road. It lies opposite the (?) 3rd lake. This is the main point of development so far. Parking can be found either at the two derelict buildings, or carefully on the side of the road by the boulders.

Just bear in mind that during the tourist season, horses and jaunting cars will block your path every 2 minutes so be patient, just remember this is their livelihood and you will be looked on as an intrusion…..

Watchtower Area

The very obvious, massive, heater covered block clearly seen from the road on the left side of the boulderfield. Problems tend to be highball, but landings generally excellent. Descend carefully via the heather covered side facing the cliffs then jump onto pre placed mat. An experience if it’s wet...

1 All Along the Watchtower 6c The blatantly obvious ‘climb me’ arête on the left side of the slabby face. Climbed on left side from standing.
2 Unfinished 6c/7a The sit down start on the lower of two obvious sloping rails on the opposite side of the block to the slab. Currently finishes on jug, needs proper finish.
3 The Fifth Ace 7a+/7b Sit down start to the blunt arête to the left of problem 2. Irregular crimp on arête for left, diagonal crimp for right. A series of superb but desperate moves up the arête may lead to jugs and the top.
4 - 6c Starting at the right side of the slabby face below a vague scoop a series of deadpoints leads to a hairy finish.

The Boulderfield

5 Aisling’s Arete 6 Hidden in a dip across the river from the grassy ridge. Climb the arête on its left side on good holds all the way.
6 Little Groove 4 The obvious short groove on the small groove boulder about 20m Right of Aisling’s Arete
7 Violence 6c/7a The s.d.s to the short arête on the right of the steep block clearly seen directly across from The Watchtower

Turnpike Rocks

About a mile further up the road from the ruined buildings the road passed between two large blocks, Turnpike Rocks.Looking back down the valley describes the next problems. It is likely that these have been climbed by various people over the years.

8 - 4 The interestingly featured slab on the right side of the steep, paint covered block.
9 - The right arête of the same block from sitting ???
10 Roadkill 6b/c The obvious line up the centre of the steep face.


About 100m further up the road on the left side, two more boulders are found, the left with a small roof on the roadside face, the other a very highball slab.

11 - ??? From a standing start on the left arête of the overlapped face (right hand on a large hold on the face) power up and leftwards across the lip for a few moves to exit upwards on good holds.
12 - ??? Just right of the arête a seam runs through the roof Gain this from a standing start and follow the seam onto the upper slab
13 - ??? From a sitting start on friendly pockets a the right arête, power up and into a groove directly above the arête.
14 Help the Blind 6 From the same start as the previous problem, after the 1st move, bear right to pockets and up the vague scoop.
15 Batman 4 The line of good holds in the middle of the face.
16 - E? The seriously highball line of pockets in the middle of the slab. Wanders left towards the top.