Where did I go: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
When did I go: April 2017
What do the films the “Princess Bride” and “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” have in common? Other than the fact that they are both excellent fantasy films, they share a very famous film location – the Cliffs of Moher on the West coast of Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland and has more than a million visitors every year. We were staying in nearby Doolin and we decided to walk from Doolin to the cliffs along the coastal walk route. This walk forms part of the Burren Way, a ~70 mile trail in County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher part of this trail extends from Doolin in the North through the Cliffs of Moher and down to Liscannor in the South. The stretch from Doolin to the cliffs is 5 miles (or 8 km).
We set off from our B&B in Doolin, the lovely Sea View House after a hearty breakfast. The walk starts straight outside the Sea View house. A very short walk on the tarmac road leads to you a gate which marks the start of the walk.
An information board here tells you everything you need to know about the trail – a map, the cliff path safety code and the shuttle bus service timetable which serves the trail. The shuttle bus serves Doolin, Cliffs of Moher and Liscannor, so you can walk one way and take the bus back.
The first part of the walk is on a gravel road, and to your right you can see the Galway Bay and the beautiful Aran Islands.
On the left its green fields as far as the eye can see – most of them used for livestock farming.
Soon, the path makes a sharp right turn towards the sea and takes you to the edge of the shore, where you can see the waves breaking against the jagged rocks.
As you carry on along this path, you have to cross a few streams. These carry water from further inland, and drop over the short cliff edges, making mini-waterfalls as they join the sea.
Sometime the wind is so strong that it actually pushes back these streams giving you a reverse waterfall. Prepare to get wet as you walk past these.
There’s also a number of small hidden coves.
The trail is well sign posted all the way, with a yellow trail for the Burren Way and red for the route to Liscannor (for this part of the trail they are both the same). There are also reminders of the cliff path safety code.
Next, there is a sharp turn inland and a steep climb, but at the end of the climb, you get your first view of the Cliffs. This is where the uphill walk really starts paying off.
Next, the trail heads further inland, and the red and yellow markers disappear for a bit, but there are instructions.
This part of the trail is across a field. A very muddy one at that too, given the rain the previous night. We found this part of the trail tricky – simply because if you stood still for more than a couple of seconds you would be ankle deep in mud. You have to be really careful about where you put your foot, but move quickly at the same time.
After the muddy fields comes the penultimate part of the walk; another steep climb. Unlike the previous climb which took us inland, this one is right near the cliff edge.
What makes this part of the walk difficult is the sudden (and unpredictable) gusts of very strong winds. I lost my balance several times trying to climb and take pictures at the same time. This is not a location for selfies.
This part of the walk is tough, but keep your eye on the ground and put one foot in front of the other and I promise it will be worth it. At the end of it you will be rewarded with magical views of the Cliffs of Moher in front of you,
and views of the Galway Bay and Aran Islands behind you.
It’s only a view seen by a fraction of the visitors to the Cliffs of Moher, so do take a moment to enjoy the view.
From here, it’s a short, and mostly flat walk along the cliff edge to the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre.
You first get to O’Brien’s tower, which marks the highest point (214 metres) of the Cliffs of Moher.
Next, there is the main view point for the Cliffs of Moher, where most of the picture postcards views come from.
The visitor centre is built into the hillside stop the cliffs, and blends beautifully with the surroundings. The visitor centre was opened in 2007 and has exhibits covering the geology, history, flora and fauna of the cliffs.
From here, you can continue the walk South down to Liscannor. But we decided this was enough for one day and decided to get the shuttle bus back to Doolin.
The Cliffs of Moher are a true natural wonder and one of the most outstanding landscapes of Ireland. The sheer vertical drop of the cliffs coupled with the rough seas gives it a mythical feel, as evident by its appearance in the Princess Bride (as the Cliffs of Insanity) and Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (as the location of the Cave).
The Cliffs of Moher also makes it to the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist, coming in at number 378 (out of 500).
Things to know:
- The walk from Doolin to the Cliffs is 5 miles (or 8 km). It took us just under 2 hours (at a moderate pace, with plenty of stops for photos).
- The walk is moderately difficult – mostly due to a couple of sections of steep climb.
- If you walk from Doolin to the Cliffs, this is an uphill walk. However, you will be facing the cliffs the whole way, so the views are better.
- There are no designated shelters or refreshment points along this part of the trail, so please take your own food/water.
- Dogs and bicycles are not allowed on this part of the trail.
- From Doolin, you can walk to the cliffs and get the shuttle bus back, or get the bus there and walk back. Bus time table available here. Tickets cost 6 Euros per adult.
- Good (and water proof) walking shoes and water proof jacket are a must.
- Entry to the Cliffs of Moher and some parts of the visitor centre are free. You need to pay (6 Euros for an adult) to enter the exhibition. More details here.
- You can also take a guided walk from Doolin to the Cliffs. Although we didn’t try this due to time constraints, it was highly recommended to us by those who had been on it.
- You can also take a cruise to the cliffs and see it from below. We didn’t have time to try this (and I really wish we had). The cruises start and end on the Doolin pier.
We really enjoyed our walk to the Cliffs. Although the Cliffs can be reached by car, we felt that walking was the right decision for many reasons; it gave us the chance to enjoy the cliffs away from the crowds and see the cliffs from many different angels (not to mention walking off an indulgent dinner from the night before!)
Have you been to the Cliffs of Moher? Would you like to go? Would you walk or drive? Leave a comment below and let me know.
I’m linking this post to #wanderfulwednesday with Snow in Tromso