Three amazing locations in the heart of Ireland’s West Coast await you on this Guided Hiking Holiday Burren, Aran & Connemara and all on the edge of the Wild Atlantic Way. The Burren & Connemara regions face each other across Galway Bay, with the glorious Aran Islands strategically placed in between. Connemara is well known for its glistening bogs, beautiful mountains and sparkling lakes.
Connemara National Park is home to the impressive Diamond Hill and only “around the corner” from the glorious Kylemore Abbey and Irelands only fjord Killary Harbour. The Burren, with its amazing limestone pavements is like a “lunar landscape” with a wealth of ancient archaeological sights – Poulnabrone Dolmen being one of the most famous. In between these two iconic lands you have the historical Aran Islands with their promontory forts and ancient ruins.
Visit Dun Aenghus and Dun Ducathair and enjoy watching the sun set over Galway Bay. Hiking parts of the Western Way, the Burren Way and walks on Inishmor – this holiday is a dream of discovery as you immerse yourself into an amazing land with wonderful people to meet along the way.
Day 1: Arrival - Your holiday begins in the cultural city of Galway – a city that thrives both on a fascinating and historical past & a traditional & proudly Irish present. Your Guide will meet you at 4pm hours in the centre of Galway, and then a courtesy transfer by minivan takes you to your holiday start location on the southern shores of Connemara. From here, your Guide will introduce you to your group & brief you on the coming days of your holiday. You will then walk to a nearby restaurant for your first dinner together & return later to your accommodation for your overnight. If you wish to make your own way to your first accommodation in Connemara ahead of time – you are most welcome & your Guide will meet you there. Should you wish to explore Galway in more detail & spend an extra night or two there before (or after) your holiday – we will be happy to book accommodation for you.
Day 2: Connemara Walk - Your first walk is a wonderful introduction to the beauty of Connemara and the contrasts of bogland & beach that makes this part of Ireland so enthralling. After your full Irish breakfast and with your picnic lunch in your backpack your walk will begin.
A wonderful track gradually becomes a little “sheep trail” as you follow a beautiful walk to the Summit of Errisbeg mountain. With glorious views across Roundstone Bog to the Twelve Bens & the Maamturks, a vista unfolds to give you a stunning landscape to admire what makes Connemara so famous & so popular with nature lovers. To your west, you overlook the coast and the Wild Atlantic way off to the horizon, while to your east, you overlook bogland & mountains. Descend from here and follow a wonderful coastal track back to your accommodation. Today is a super opportunity for a swim in the clear & refreshing waters of the west of Ireland and your Guide will ensure you have time to do so if you wish. Return to your accommodation afterwards for a free evening at your leisure.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 17kms. Highest point: 300mts. Paved roads disappear to grassy tracks & then open hillside with rocky & uneven sections, some boggy & wet underfoot conditions with some steep climbs up & down. Paved footpaths & beach towards the end.
Day 3: Connemara National Park - Driving a short distance, you reach the little village of Letterfrack and Connemara National Park. Here, you will have time to enjoy the Visitor Centre, where you may wish to learn more about the formation of this fascinating landscape & its early settlers.
Following a board walk, you hike up Diamond Hill in the centre of Connemara National Park to reach the summit of one of the Twelve Bens. With a terrific 360 degree view from the top, your Guide will point out the many different locations around you and will explain the significance of them in relation to the region. Descending from here, you return to the Visitor Centre in the National Park where you may wish to soak in more of the atmosphere & information on this region.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 14kms. Highest point: 445mts. Gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, stepping stones, board walks & boggy underfoot conditions. Steps up and down
At the end of your walk, you will then continue on to the famous & impressive Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord and if energy allows, enjoy a short walk here. Those who wish, will have the opportunity to meet a local farmer, immerse themselves into this diverse way of life, get hands on experience with farming sheep & if you wish – cutting turf. Return to your accommodation afterwards for a free evening at your leisure.
Day 4: Inishmore Arrival - Today you transfer to Galway Bay & reach the largest of the Aran Islands and Inishmore where you will spend your next 2 nights. Taking a small ferry from Galway, your crossing takes approx. 1 hour. On reaching the island, you drop off your luggage at your accommodation & then continue to have a wonderful walk around the south eastern region of the island. Learning some of the rich history of these islands, you will also have time to visit an ancient fortress before returning to your accommodation for your dinner & overnight
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 9kms. Highest point: 100mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, limestone slabs which can be wobbily underfoot.
Day 5: Inishmore Hike - Today you will have the opportunity to discover Inish Mor in all its glory. Leaving your accommodation, and overlooking the southern shores of the island, you reach the centre of Inishmor at Kilmurvey.
Following a lovely old trail, you will be brought across the limestone pavements to reach the fascinating “Poll na bPeist” or Serpents Lair. This amazing natural swimming pool is a wonderful location to learn more about this ancient landscape. With its rough and severe tidal currents, it soon becomes clear why the sea forms so much of island conversations. Continue on to reach the impressive stone fortress of Dun Aonghasa. Continue from Dun Aonghasa fortress, along the northern shores of the island to reach a seal sanctuary. With time to enjoy this coastline, and visit some of the older churches on the island, you then return to your accommodation. You will have a free evening to enjoy the unique atmosphere of island life mixing with the locals in one of the great pubs on Inis Mór
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 19kms. Highest point: 150mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, limestone slabs which can be wobbily underfoot. Exposed cliff edges with no protection.
Day 6: Ballyvaughan Walk - Leaving the island this morning, you return to the mainland and drive south, around Galway Bay to reach the Burren. This is a completely different & contrasting landscape to Connemara & also boasts one of the most diverse arrays of flowers that any keen botanist would wish to find.
At the very northern tip of the Burren coast is Black Head lighthouse and from there, a beautiful mix of fertile valleys and limestone payments open out before you. Your walk takes you around this glorious headland with magnificent views across Galway Bay to Connemara and the Aran Islands. At the end of your walk you continue on to your accommodation in Doolin for your final 2 nights. This vibrant village is world renowned for its bustling pubs where traditional irish music fills the air.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 17kms. Highest point: 320mts. Paved roads & gravel tracks, grassy trails, open hillside with rocky & uneven limestone slabs to traverse
Day 7: Cliffs of Moher - When visiting Doolin – one of the most talked about “must-do’s” is to visit the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. These impressive cliffs form a protective barrier from the Wild Atlantic Way to the rich & fertile land at the southern end of the Burren region. Standing proudly above the ocean their towering dominance is a spectacle that can best be appreciated on foot.
Walking from your accommodation in Doolin, you walk south to reach the foothills of the Cliffs of Moher. Climbing gradually, you can see the lower levels and layering of rock formations that continue to climb to their 300mt wall of beauty. Reaching the Visitor Centre you may wish to learn more on the formation of the cliffs, or just enjoy some light refreshments there.
Your walk continues south from the Visitor Centre to reach the southern point of the cliffs at Hags Head. This is the place that originally gave the cliffs their name & from here, you have wonderful views south over Lahinch, the Shannon Estuary & Kerry in the distance. Transferring by bus back to Doolin, those that wish will have time for a well-earned “pint” to celebrate your week of walking. Later that evening enjoy your final farewell dinner together, compare stories, reminisce and enjoy some great music before your onward journeys tomorrow.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 15kms. Highest point: 300mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks & grassy, muddy trails. Exposed cliff edges throughout the walk.
Day 8: Departure - After your final and substantial Irish Breakfast, you will be taken by minivan to reach the bus & train station in Ennis. From here, you can then avail of the excellent bus/train service to all major airports, cities & ferry ports in Ireland. Your estimated arrival time to Ennis is approx. 10.30am. Please note that Ennis is approx. 20 mins (drive time) from Shannon Airport.