Immerse yourself in the best of the west! The essence and variety of the West of Ireland, the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, is captured on this three-centre, guided walking/hiking tour, visiting Clare, the Burren, The Aran Islands & Connemara.
Beginning in the matchmaking town of Lisdoonvarna, we discover The Burren, a remarkable area of more than 100 square miles of limestone landscape, where a rich variety of plants thrive in the cracks and crevices. We experience the force of the Atlantic first hand, along the steep and rugged coastline of the Cliffs of Moher. Enjoy the bird’s eye view of the dramatic west coast of Ireland on the short flight to the Aran Islands, where Gaelic is still spoken. Explore the many archaeological sites of the island, including the pre-historic fort Dun Aonghasa. Old pilgrimage sites and bog lands rich in flowers are the treats of Connemara where we encounter Ireland’s only Fjord and mesmerising landscape. Relax in the evenings after a delicious evening meal, listen to live traditional music and meet the locals.MAKE AN ENQUIRY
Day 1 – Arrival
Welcome to the ‘Wild West’, the Wild Atlantic Way West! If you arrive early at your accommodation in Lisdoonvarna settle in and enjoy some leisure time in the town renowned for traditional Irish music. You will have time to settle in and unpack before meeting with your guide at 18.30 hrs. Get to know the rest of the group over a delicious evening meal while your guide will give you a full briefing on the week ahead. Overnight in Lisdoonvarna (3 nights).
Day 2 – The Cliffs of Moher & Atlantic Coast
Distance: 13km/8 miles Ascent: little or none
Enjoy your first day’s walking along a new coastal walking trail in Clare which will bring you along one of the most outstanding landscapes of Ireland. From Liscannor and Hags Head in the south, along by the majestic Cliffs of Moher and to Doolin in the North, with views over Aill Na Searrach, the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. The trail follows the line of the cliffs and passes through the grounds of the visitor centre. After you have worked up your appetite it will be time to take the short journey back to the hotel for tonight’s evening meal.
Day 3 – The Burren
Distance: 13km/8miles Ascent: 275m/900ft
Today we venture to the unique internationally important habitat that is The Burren. We explore it through a combination of walking on green roads and traversing the karst limestone pavements which are interspersed with rare arctic and alpine flowers. This walk allows us time to delve into the flora, landscape and history that makes The Burren what is it was and is today. Our short transfer back to the hotel will allow those feet some well-earned rest before dinner.
Day 4 – The Aran Islands
Distance: 9km/5.5 miles Ascent: little or none
This morning we transfer from Lisdoonvarna to Inverin airport for the short flight over the dramatic west coast to the Irish-speaking Aran Islands, located off the west coast of Ireland. A true Irish experience awaits, locals speak Irish as well as English in a setting of Celtic churches of historical significance as we base ourselves on the largest island Inis Mor for the next 2 nights. Once our luggage is dropped off at the hotel, we walk to the southeast of the island to spectacular cliffs and puffing holes, continuing on to the Iron Age Black Fort (Dún Duchathair). Overnight on Inis Mor (2 nights).
Day 5 – The Aran Islands – Dún Aonghasa
Distance: 10km/6 miles Ascent: little or none
Today we take a short transfer to visit archaeological sites including the pre-historic fort, Dún Aonghasa and Poll na bPéist (worm hole), all set in a stony landscape from which a living was laboriously wrenched. Located on the south side of Inismór, it is a semi-circular stone fort overlooking the Atlantic with daunting and dramatic views that stretch the length of the Island. The Worm Hole is a natural rectangular shaped pool found at the bottom of the cliffs south of Dún Aonghasa and is a popular location for Cliff Diving competitions.
Day 6 – Maumeen Pilgrimage route
Distance: 13km/8 miles
After flying back to the mainland, we are picked up and transferred to enjoy today’s walk through the beautiful Maumeen Mountains on the pilgrimage route up to St. Patrick’s Well & bed. Our trail is surrounded by untouched mountains and rocky, sheer fields separated by centuries-old stone walls. The chapel itself, around halfway through the mountain pass, is thought to be one of the smallest in Ireland, and according to legend, it was the place St. Patrick went to bestow his blessing on the wide, rugged terrain of Connemara. Continuing along the Western Way we finish our walk at Keane’s Pub where we can enjoy a different type of blessing before being collected and brought to our hotel. Overnight in Connemara (2 nights)
Day 7 – The Connemara Coast
Distance: 16km/10miles Ascent: little or none
This morning we are transferred to the start of our walk where we will then walk along the shore of Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord, on the ‘Famine Trail’ through Connemara mountain scenery back to our hotel. This part of Connemara would have been badly affected by the famine in the 1840’s and there is evidence of the destitution of this era – ruined buildings, a famine relief road dating back to 1856 which would have been constructed by the local people in return for food. A lake dotted bog land, rich in flora on the Wild Atlantic Way, awaits us with unrivalled views of the spectacular bay and across to the northern shore to the Mayo mountains. In more recent times, Killary Harbour has become a centre for aquaculture, with mussels being farmed in the deep, clear waters of the fjord. On return to the hotel we will have time to reflect on the past week before meeting up again for our farewell dinner. ‘We met as strangers, we leave as friends’
Day 8 – Departure Day
Enjoy your final hot cooked breakfast and we prepare to leave for Galway city. Our final transfer at 09.00 takes us from Leenane to Galway City from where you can make your own onward journey to wherever it takes you. Bid your ‘see you later’ and not ‘goodbye’. Slán abhaile – Safe home! See you next time!
Note that, for weather or other reasons, on occasion the guide may have to change the sequence of walks or the walks themselves.MAKE AN ENQUIRY