What to expect from hiking along the iconic Cliffs of Moher
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Experienced climber John Burke says there aren't many places quite like the Cliffs of Moher.
They might be one of our most famous tourist attractions, but the Cliffs of Moher have a lot more going for them than that. Not only are they a photographer's dream, but they are the ideal place to pop on a pair of walking shoes and head out for a hike.
Seeing as Clare man John Burke has climbed Mount Everest, we're going to take his word for it that there are some challenging spots along the route. He did actually propose to his wife on the side of the cliffs as well, but you'd have to ask him which one was more daunting!
If you're thinking about heading to Clare for a weekend, MINI Ireland is offering a 48-hour test drive of their cars at the moment. If you're going to visit a place like the Cliffs of Moher, you might as well do it in style...
"A nice little burner on the calves..."
Few places on planet earth will take your breath away like the Cliffs of Moher. What I love even more is that these cliffs are rising up from the deep Atlantic Ocean, right on my door step. Doolin famed for its traditional music and craic, is the starting point for this adventure.
There are official parking areas that are worth finding to ensure you’re not going to block a farmer going about his day to day work, or even more likely a bus load of enthusiastic tourists hitting the road to their next destination.
The key to this adventure is to pace yourself. It’s a long round trip of 23km and the inspiring views and great path can allow you to get a little carried away. The first few kilometres are relatively flat, but that soon changes.
As the incline kicks in, the cliffs soar to a high point of 214 metres. You’re starting at sea level, so it’s a nice little burner on the calves!
The terrain can vary from nice paths, stream crossings, and the occasionally muddy field, but the most challenging terrain of all is in the proximity of the visitor centre. Plan this as your recovery period, slow down, walk, and be particularly careful on this stretch. In fact it would be advisable to completely avoid it at peak times of the day and year.
Take it all in
On the trail you will pass the famous O’Brien’s Tower and Moher Tower on the Liscannor side, where the history books recall the tales of the first recorded sightings of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The stretch between the centre and Liscannor is easier going and the final 500 yards to Nagles parking is a nice descent.
But remember you need to turn around and go all the way back. Make sure to allow time for a cuppa and a bite of something sweet in the visitor centre. It’s not every trail that has world class facilities on the route, so make sure to take full advantage of it.
This is a route to take at a nice pace. It’s as much about the stunning world class scenery along the way as it is the work out. Take time to stop and look out to the Aran Islands as you tower over the closest one, Inis Oírr.
Breathe it all in. See the boats riding the waves underneath you with tourists in awe of the monstrous cliffs. Appreciate the farmers going about their work, farming the land of their forefathers before, long before a tourist ever paid a visit.
The cliffs are famed for the birds that make it their homes, from Puffins, Razor Bills and Kittiwakes as they rise above and descend below you, some making spectacular dives in the hostile sea. A nice steady run for me will see this knocked off in roughly sub 3 hours, but add on an extra hour or two, don’t let this place and what it’s gifting you pass you by.
It’s a setting that has left me with trembling legs and a pounding heart for many reasons, as it also happens to be the place I dropped on to a knee, not to tie my laces, but to propose to my wife, one of the more successful outcomes I’ve had from a visit there.
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