These are the five of the best coastal walks in the West of Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way has an abundance of incredible seascape views, sandy beaches and breathtaking clifftops. The best way to experience the rugged West Coast is on one of the many outstanding coastal walks waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxed Sunday stroll or a vigorous hike, there’s something on this list for everyone. Get up off the couch and enjoy the natural beauty and fresh air the West coast has to offer, you will not regret it.
5. Killaspugbrone Loop Walk, Strandhill, Co. Sligo
Strandhill is a dream of a coastal village on the Sligo Surf Coast but a trip here wouldn’t be complete without completing this magnificent walk which promises views of Benbulben, Knocknarea and Sligo Bay.
The Loop walk starts at Strandhill Airport, is 7.7km and takes about 2 hours. The route will take you through some forest, footpaths and then along the beach and sand dunes. You can also start in Strandhill village if that’s easier, that’s the beauty of a loop walk.
Make sure you treat yourself in the wonderful cosy and friendly atmosphere of Shells café when you’re finished. You deserve it!
4. Dursey Island Loop Walk, Dursey Island, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork
This is one of the most unique walks because to access it you have to take Ireland’s only cablecar! Dursey Island, located at the tip of the beautiful Beara Peninsula is very difficult to get to by boat due to the rough seas and treacherous rocks below so a cable car was built to ensure the locals weren’t stranded. The cable car is now popular among tourists and hillwalkers as well as the few part-time residents.
The walk commences at the cable car which takes you across to Dursey and continues for 14km, taking about 4 hours altogether. The 4 hours will fly by as you follow the purple route around the island enjoying spectacular views across to the Beara Peninsula. Watch out for whales, dolphins and basking sharks along the way.
Don’t forget to check the Dursey Island cable car website before you go to make sure of the operating hours. The return trip over and back is a tenner for an adult and a fiver for a child. The cable car takes six people at a time and constantly runs during its operating hours.
3. Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, Liscannor, Co.Clare
Make the most of the Banner county and the magnificent Cliffs of Moher by approaching them on foot. Your hard work will be rewarded with the most spectacular view of the world-famous Cliffs of Moher. This is an experience you’ll never want to forget so make sure you have your camera!
The new cliff path from Liscannor to Doolin is 20km long and takes approximately 5-6 hours. The path is quite steep and dangerous at times, so this is one for the more adventurous among us and definitely not one to try in your flip-flops. You can access the path from many other locations along the coast if you want to shorten the distance and check out /www.cliffsofmohercoastalwalk.ie/ for information of buses that will take you back to where you’ve parked your car. You could also organise a car split with your mates.
2. Slieve League Pilgrim Path, Teelin, Co.Donegal
The Slieve League is Ireland’s highest accessible sea cliffs so this path taking you to their summit will literally take your breath away. Rising 1972 feet above sea level, this is not a walk for the faint-hearted. Perhaps this is what makes it an unforgettable stop on the Wild Atlantic Way.
The 2.8km path takes about an hour and a half to complete and begins at the Slieve League car park in the village of Teelin. Walkers are warned not to take this path if there is heavy fog or rain. Legend has it that at one point of the path, you can see seven different counties.
1. Portacloy Loop walk, Portacloy, Co. Mayo
We have saved the best for last with this incredible loop walk which starts at the idyllic fishing village of Portacloy and features some of the most dramatic coastal scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way. The unique aspect to this walk is that you will have the unspoiled beauty almost all to yourself in this isolated part of North West Mayo.
This 18km loop walk is packed full of beautiful sights sure to keep the Instagram likes rolling. The golden sands of Portacloy beach would rival the beaches of Thailand and is a fabulous spot for a swim after a long walk on a hot sunny day.
Watch out for the 1.6-billion-year-old Stags of Broadhaven, the rugged cliffs of Benwee Head and the historic ‘Eire 63’ stone aerial mark from World War II.
Written by Ailbhe Coleman.