Watch: Adventurer records amazing swim through Donegal island

A Donegal adventurer has caught some of his amazing new underwater explorations on camera.

Iain Miller of Unique Ascent regularly climbs to nerve-wracking heights around Donegal’s coastline. This time, he has ventured underwater to swim through an island – taking a journey very few have completed before.

Iain made his way to Umfin Island, an uninhabited rock 3 km west of Gweedore, just to the North of the much better known Gola Island.

Iain had kayaked through the unique island passage before, but last week he decided to brave a solo swim at low tide.

The short film shows Iain swimming through a 300-metre sea cave tunnel which passes right through the middle of the island from the Atlantic to the Gweedore side.

In the centre of the tunnel is a 50m section which is in complete darkness and is guarded at either end by a constriction or narrowing in the cave walls. These narrowings are very tidal, Iain said.

Here, Iain gives an introduction to the island:  

“Umphin (Umfin or Iompainn) Island is a small uninhabited island living on the seaward side of Inishmeane and just to the North of the much better known Gola Island. The island sits approximately 3 KM from mainland Donegal and is normally surrounded by mildly tetchy seas. Umphin is home to a ground-nesting colony of several thousand sea birds and sees very few visitors of the humankind.

“Access to the island is by boat, or if you are feeling Olympic, by a swim.”

Umfin Island:

“There is no regular ferry service to the island and leisurely sea kayak paddle is an excellent way to approach and visit the island. On the landward (Donegal mainland) side of Umphin there is a perfect natural harbour and shelved landing beach between mainland Umphin and the outlaying Tornacolpagh Island. The channel between the islands provides a very shelter landing spot which at low tide allows you to walk between the island as the sea retreats.

“The rest of the island’s coastline is very exposed to every ripple of oncoming sea motion from all directions south-west through to the north and is effectively guarded by sea cliffs for most of its circumference.”

Check out for more of Iain’s adventures.


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