Whether you’re a world traveler, nature lover, or Harry Potter fan, you might have heard of the Cliffs of Moher.
The mighty sea cliffs are located on the west coast of Ireland, on the Wild Atlantic way and are one of the most visited sites in Ireland.
So naturally it was part of the itinerary on our recent trip to Ireland.
While researching, we came across many reviews and opinions, calling it too touristy and crowded. Now, we the Rajans, steer clear of the crowds and actively avoid any tick marks on touristy, bucket lists. We are nature lovers and like any sensible person would understand, humans and nature don’t go so well together.. too many humans, even less so! 😬
But the cliffs.. or rather the pictures of the cliffs were dramatic, to say the least. We just had to see them.
On Further browsing the internet, we got our solution. So if you are a like minded individual/ family, who do not mind a small (or longer) hike, to stay away from the crowds AND get better views, steer clear of the visitor centre. Or, at least don’t let that be your starting point.
Cliffs are about 14 km long and the visitor centre, is about midway on the cliffs, where the masses usually descend. The southern starting point is at Hag’s head and northern end is at Doolin.
So either one can start proximally, at Hag’s head or distally at Village of Doolin and hike up to the visitor centre (where there’s an option of taking a bus or cab back to either ends). The hikes are beautiful and safe… We can vouch for the one starting at hag’s head.. and even our 6 yr old was merrily trotting along. There’s one official Path, totally safe.. and the other, unofficial goat-track, closer to the edge, also safe but one just has to be careful, at places. Wild pink flowers were in full bloom along the cliffs and sea-gull nests, dotted the edges.
When we started the day, it was downright gloomy with pouring rain, totally a kinda day you don’t want while visiting the cliffs. One should track the weather conditions (for what it’s worth) to ensure there’s no fog around the cliffs, which will make the trip meaningless.
Nonetheless, since we were anyway headed north towards Galway, we started our day, praying for better weather.
The friendly gentleman at the reception of Coachman’s Townhouse at Kenmare was very helpful and gave us an important travel tip which saved us a lot of fuel and some hours on the road. So, instead of driving around the strait, via Shannon and Limerick, he suggested we cross the bay in a ferry at Tarbert, barely a 20 minute ride.
Having saved some hours on the road, we reached the village of Liscannor, the closest to southern point of the Cliffs, at about 3.00 pm, while still pouring, but luckily, not fogged-out, took a quick break at the Rock Shop, did some “essential” souvenir shopping and snack-tucking, then drove about 2km to the private parking at Hag’s Head, at a farm, that charges only 2€. Yes, you read that right, versus, 8€ / person at the visitor centre. Need more motivation to park and hike? Then please read on…
Since the land around the cliffs is all privately owned, the tourists who are allowed to visit are expected to respect the locals and close the cattle gates on the path so there is no cattle-trespassing.
Having heard the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather in Ireland, wait for 10 minutes…” many a times, we experienced it first-hand, this day. Parked our car, geared up for the wet and dreary weather, with a woolen cap, rain jackets etc and started walking.
10 minutes into the hike and the sun started shining so bright that now I was missing the sun-glasses and a hat!
There were exactly 2-3 people visible to us at any one time, the weather gods couldn’t be more favorable and the views were jaw-dropping!
It took us about 2 hours at a leisurely pace, clicking a gazillion pictures with the cliffs, the cows and the clouds to reach upto the visitor centre.
To further corroborate our decision to hike, we came across hordes of tourists and tourist buses completely swarming the landscape. We forgot to click a picture of the same, wasn’t thinking ahead for the blog, so here’s one from the web…
We made a mandatory free trot through the shop and decided to book a cab ride back to Hag’s head, as the little one was now completely exhausted. A bus ride would have been more economical but the service had closed for the day.
10 minutes to the parking lot, and we were back- on our forward journey to Galway! See you there.