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5 of the Best Cliff-Edge Hikes in the West of Ireland

Ireland offers some of the most dramatic cliffs in the world and we’re very lucky to have so many great walking trails along them. If you’re looking for an incredible cliff view, these are my top 5 trails for jaw dropping scenic views along the west of Ireland.

These are coastal hikes with a cliff edge, and some may not have any fencing so will not be suitable for anyone with a fear of heights. Please be conscious of the weather before hiking and stay a safe distance from the edge.

Croaghaun Cliffs, Achill, Mayo

  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Starting Point: Keem Bay
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 5-7km (depending how far you go along the cliffs)
  • Elevation: 262m
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Parking: Yes
  • Fee: No
  • Dog Friendly: No
  • Pit Stop: Blasta Food truck on the way into Achill. It’s a great stop off for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Also, make time for a swim at Keem Bay when you park there.

This is my favourite hike in Ireland. Croaghaun Sea Cliffs are Ireland’s highest and the third highest sea cliffs in Europe! The hike itself is usually a very quiet trail. The trail from Keem Bay up to the lookout tower and then onwards to the cliffs and back is spectacular. The views just get better and better. The ascent from Croaghaun Cliffs is through steep long grass, with a vague path working its way along the cliff so be extra cautious. One to only do on a clear calm day. If you want to hike Croaghaun mountain as well as the cliffs the hike is 980m elevation gain and a 6 hour round trip.

 

Benwee Head, Mayo

 

  • Route type: Looped (but you have the option of going out and back or building this trail longer/shorter to suit the time what time you have.)
  • Starting point: Carrowteige Village (there’s are lots of small car parks dotted around)
  • Distance: 12.4km
  • Elevation: 383m
  • Time: 4.5 hours
  • Parking: Yes
  • Fee: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Pit Stop: Portacloy beach and pier along the hike is such a beautiful spot for a dip after.

This is one of the best coastal walks Ireland has to offer and its rarely ever spoken about. Hugging the rugged Mayo coastline, it passes along stunning beaches and looks down on to coves and sea arches. The path along this walk is vague but worn with some signage, following the white and purple arrows. The path starts in the village going through grassy fields, dirt paths and the odd bit of bog. There is no fencing along the cliff drops so be careful. You can also start from Portacloy beach and walk along the cliffs all the way along to Rinroe beach if you had 2 cars.

 

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Trail, Clare

 

  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Starting point: Doolin Village is the best place to park and set off from. It’s about a 10-15 min walk to the starting point which has a gate leading to the path.
  • Distance: 25km (this is an out and back, so if the 25km is daunting remember you can turn back to tailor it to your needs.)
  • Elevation gain: 471m
  • Time: 5-5.5 hours.
  • Parking: Yes
  • Fee: Yes, on street parking
  • Dog Friendly: No
  • Pit Stop: In Doolin make sure you call into the Ivy cottage, Gus O’Connor’s or Russel’s fish shop for that post hike refuel!

Everyone in Ireland needs to do this trail. If you’re not up to doing the full 25km you can split it into parts, it’s spectacular. The trail starts in Doolin village so there are plenty of amenities nearby and easy access to parking. From Doolin village, you follow a working road so be mindful of traffic. This part takes only about 10-15 minutes up. From there, the trail is clearly marked along the way, walking along the cliff edge, sometimes passing by farm gates and sheds (for the full rural experience). As you walk, the sights and scenes of the famous cliffs just get better and better. At about 8km in you reach the visitor centre where there are more amenities and some of the most popular views of the cliffs. For me, however, the best view is beyond this point, once you have walked further on towards the Moher Tower, stop and take a look back. As I said you can make this trail as long or as short as you desire and if you had two cars one could park in Doolin while the other is parked at the Cliffs of Moher Liscannor walk car park, to walk the full length out and drive back.

 

Glencolumcille Tower Loop, Donegal

 

  • Route type: Looped
  • Starting point: Glencolmcille Fire Station /St. Columba’s Church in the village
  • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
  • Distance: 9.5km
  • Elevation: 330m
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Parking: Yes
  • Fee: No
  • Dog Friendly: no
  • Pit Stop: In the village, check out An Chistin @ Cook's Pantry 

You’ve probably seen the stunning photos of Glencolmcille circulating online. It’s jagged rock pinnacles and gasping cliffs have attracted lots of hikers, but still it’s a relatively quiet path. The trail head is marked by blue arrows and is an easy one to follow once you keep alert. Starting in the remote village you work your way along grassy paths following the rocky, sometimes boggy path. Veer off to the lookout tower and head along the coast to get the views of Sturral Ridge to get the spectacular views, then follow the trail back to the tower and continue the loop back around to the village.

 

Slieve League Loop from Teelin, Donegal

 

  • Route type: Loop
  • Starting point: Sliabh Liag Cliff Visitor Centre
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 15.5 km
  • Elevation: 690m
  • time: 5 hours
  • Parking: Yes
  • Fee: No
  • Dog Friendly: Yes
  • Pit Stop: Rusty Mackerel for food or pints.

The Slieve League Cliffs are a spectacular and popular place to visit, and you have a choice of routes depending on your time and fitness. You can do shorter walks to see the cliffs (4.5km) and get some great views, but, if you fancy a challenge (one that’s not for the faint hearted) you can hike to the cliffs and up Pilgrim's Path towards the summit before returning via One Man’s Pass and down Bunglass. Given the difficulty, it’s definitely one for a clear day and with a guide to help you navigate the steep cliff edges.

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