This tour combines the lunar-like, limestone landscape at the Burren with the spectacular coast routes in Connemara.
The Burren National Park covers a remarkable 1,500ha of limestone pavement, hazel scrub, woodland, turloughs, springs and cliffs. Originating from the Irish word “Boireann” meaning rocky place you cannot fail to be impressed by this truly mesmeric landscape. The Connemara village of Roundstone is beautifully set on one of the most spectacular coastal drives in Ireland overlooking the Atlantic at the foot of Errisbeg Mountain, it is no surprise that International artists have drawn their inspiration from this enigmatic location. On Inismore marvel at Dun Aonghusa prehistoric stone fort clinging to the 90m high cliffs while the Atlantic crashes below. Have your cameras ready for your visit to the iconic Cliffs of Moher and enjoy unparalleled views of the Aran Islands and the coast of Clare from Gleninagh Mountain.
Your tour begins at Doolin on the west coast of Clare. After visiting the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, which fall 200m sheer into the Atlantic, you follow the Burren Way to Doolin. The following day’s walk, also along the Burren Way, brings you to the village of Ballyvaughan on Clare’s north coast. You will also explore the barren karst landscape to the east of Ballyvaughan.
Travelling on to Co. Galway by public bus, you will spend 3 days exploring the mountainous region of Connemara. The Western Way will bring you along the foot of the Maamturk Mountains via Lough Inagh and the village of Leenane. Some of the stages in the Burren are challenging due to the rocky terrain. The walks in Connemara remain mostly at valley, but can be quite boggy especially in wet weather.
Day 1: Arrival in Doolin
Arrive in Doolin where you will be spending your first night. Set against the rugged Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by the spectacular bare limestone landscape of the Burren, Doolin is a place of breathtaking beauty. On arrival at your first accommodation, your host will give you your full Detailed Information pack. They will also be able to recommend some of the excellent local restaurants and suggest some of the pubs where you will find great traditional Irish music. Access for this holiday is made by a taxi or bus connection from Shannon Airport to Doolin. This service is available all year round.
Day 2: Cliffs of Moher Hike
From your guesthouse you will walk to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with a magical vista that captures the hearts of up to one million visitors every year. From here you follow the “Burren Way” along the cliff tops to Hags Head and return by the same route, but enjoying a completely different panorama. Once back at the visitor centre, you will then be transferred back to your accommodations.
Walk Details: Distance: 16kms. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: Level, descending at end of day. Some road walking, muddy and rocky grass tracks, can be wet underfoot. Boots essential. Walking close to exposed cliff edge.
Day 3: Ballinlacken Castle to Ballyvaughan
You will be driven a short distance from your guesthouse to the start of your walk at Ballinalacken Castle. From here you follow the Burren Way along old green roads into the heart of the Burren, with wonderful limestone pavements and walls all around you. The Burren region is internationally famous for its landscape and flora. A visit to the Burren during the summer months will leave a person amazed by the colourful diversity of flowering plants living together within the one ecosystem. There are fantastic views over Galway Bay and the Aran Islands as you continue on, passing the Caher Valley Nature Reserve, to Lismacsheedy. Old ring forts can be found along the way as you continue on past the impressive Newtown Castle to your overnight stay in Ballyvaughan.
Walk Details: Distance: 20 kms. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 250m. Some road walking, muddy and rocky grass tracks, can be wet underfoot. Boots essential.
Day 4; Moneen Mountain to Bell Harbour
A short drive will take you to the start of today’s walk. Walking across Moneen Mountain and continuing on over to the magnificent Turlough Hill with its Iron Age hillfort, you then descend to Corcomroe Abbey (Cistercian, 12th century) to finish your walk at Bell Harbour (Bealaclugga). Return to Ballyvaughan for overnight.
Walk Details: Distance: 18kms. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 280m. Rocky walking with no clear path a lot of the way. Some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 5: Travel to Connemara & Maumeen Pass Hike
Today you will be leaving Ballyvaughan on the daily public bus at 9.00am (approx.) to Maam Cross (bus change in Galway). On your arrival at Maam Cross (a little before 13:00) you will be taken to the start of your walk at Teernakill Bridge near the village of Maam. From there you will follow the “Western Way” over the wonderful Maumeen Pass (Mám Éan), with its ancient shrine, stations and holy well, still frequented by the faithful. Descend from the pass and continue along quiet country roads to your overnight accommodation at Lough Inagh.
Walk Details: Distance: 15kms. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 250m. Grass and muddy tracks, rocky in places. Can be very wet underfoot. Some road walking – boots essential.
Day 6: Lough Inagh to Leenane hike
Start from Lough Inagh and, continuing on the Western Way, walk along the foot of the Maamturk Mountainsthrough Letterbreckaun to Tullyconor to the shores of the spectacular Killary Harbour to finish in the little village of Leenane. This beautiful village is famous for the stunning and varied beauty of its location. The contrasts of sea and mountains offer vistas alive with colour; the intense green of the hills in summer, the oranges and russets of the autumn mountains, the slate blues of the winter seas. Overnight in Leenane.
Walk Details: Distance: 16kms. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 150m. Grass tracks – rocky and muddy in places. Can be wet underfoot – boots essential. Some road walking.
Day 7: Lough Fee to Leenane
From Leenane, you will be driven a short distance to the western end of Lough Fee. This is the start of a very beautiful walking day along the shores of Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord. Taking the road to Little Killary Bay you pass through the rare and beautiful woodland around Salrock. After the short climb to the spectacular viewpoint of Mallnalack, you join the famine road which follows the southern shore of Killary Harbour. Return via Tullyconor and the Western Way back to Leenane village. Overnight in Leenane.
Walk Details: Distance: 17kms. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 150m. Grass tracks – rocky and muddy in places. Can be wet and muddy underfoot – boots essential. Some road walking.
Day 8: Departure
From Leenane, a taxi is required to take you to Maam Cross to join the main Galway-Clifden bus route. On arrival back at Galway Bus Station – you can then access all airports, ferry ports or main cities by the excellent train or bus services offered.
Prices are per person sharing. Single Room Supplement – €250.00. Solo Traveller Supplement – €315.00.