SELF GUIDED TOUR
The perfect way for the independent explorer to see our hidden gems & discover the many paths less travelled.
7 nights stay, 6 days hiking
Participants need to have a good level of fitness and previous hiking experience is recommended.
“Satisfied with every detail, impressed to see how seriously every detail was taken into account, just wow!”
– Jean-Marc, France, 2016
The Burren and Connemara face each other across Galway Bay, and yet it is hard to imagine two more contrasting landscapes. ‘Burren’ is derived from the Irish word boireann meaning ‘place of stone’, and the name could not be more apt. There is no part of Ireland where rock so obviously dominates the landscape as it does in the Northwest corner of County Clare. The Burren covers an area of some 260 square kilometres and is famous for its bare limestone pavements dissected by deep crevices and traversed by countless stone walls. Almost devoid of trees and surface water, it has been described as ‘lunar’ in its appearance, an ancient limestone plateau beneath which is a labyrinth of pot-holes, caves, streams and lakes. Surprisingly, this bizarre and apparently hostile environment is a botanist’s paradise as around ¾ of Ireland’s plant species are found in the Burren (more than any other region).
The Aran Islands, Inisheer, (near island), Inishmaan, (middle island), and Inishmore, (big island) are unique amongst the islands of Ireland. Geologically they are similar to the Burren, many of the fields consisting of little more than bare limestone. The islanders have eked out a living by improving the soil over generations with sand and seaweed. Aran’s flora is as rich and exotic as that of the Burren. Aran is also a bastion of Irish culture. Irish is still the everyday language of most islanders, making it the strongest Gaeltacht in the country. Many traditions that have been lost on the mainland have been maintained here. It also has a wealth of archaeological and historical remains, notably its prehistoric stone forts and Early Christian sites. Aran has been a mecca for scholars and discerning travellers ever since John Millington Synge’s brilliant depiction of the islanders’ life in The Playboy of the Western World.
Connemara is an imposing landscape of lakes, moorland and rugged mountains. It has some of the most extensive areas of blanket bog in Europe and is home to many heathland and bogland plants such as the insectivorous sundew and butterwort and a rich variety of heaths and heathers. The two main mountain groups – the Twelve Bens of Connemara and the Maamturk Mountains – are separated by the deep valley in which Lough Inagh lies. One of the most typical Connemara scenes is to see the jagged peaks glistening with quartz reflected in the still waters of a bogland pool. At its northern frontier Co. Galway is separated from Co. Mayo by the long, deep inlet of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord.
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Arrive in Doolin where you will be spending your first night. 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 or Galway Airports to Doolin. This service is available all year round.
You will be driven from your guesthouse to the start of your walk at a “Green Road” near Fanore Beach From here you follow this old green road into the heart of Black Head mountain, with wonderful limestone pavements and stone walls all around. There are fantastic views over Galway Bay and the Aran Islands as you continue on, around Gleninagh Mountain. Finishing your walk just south of Ballyvaughan village, you will be transported back to Doolin for your overnight.
Walk Details: Distance: 12 kms. Max. Ascent: 220m. Little road walking, rocky grass tracks, open hill top, limestone pavement. Boots essential.
For today’s walk you will be driven a short distance from your B&B to the start of your walk along the top of the majestic Cliffs of Moher. From the southern end – known as “Hags Head” you will walk along these amazing Cliffs to reach the Cliffs of Moher Centre – and telephone for your taxi. You will then be transported to the Ferry Terminal at Doolin Pier from where you will take the 1300hrs ferry. Allow 2hrs for your walk. On arrival at Inis Mor you will be met and taken to your B&B where you will stay for the next 2 nights. Ferry journey approx 1.5hrs. Ferry may call to Inis Oirr on the way.
Walk Details: Distance 5km. No ascent. Cliff top Walk, small roads.
A good days walking today on the largest of the Aran Islands, Inis Mor. From your accommodation you will have the opportunity to walk to the world famous cliff top stone fort of Dun Aonghasa. The stone chevaux-de-frise of this fort are still visible and the whole experience has been described … “as the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe”.
Gaelic is still spoken as the everyday language of this island people. Return to your accommodation at Cill Ronan for your overnight.
Walk details. Distance 7.5kms. Max Ascent. 150m. Small road walking and paths. Open Cliff top. Boots essential.
The morning Ferry from Cill Ronan will take you to Rossaveel where you will be transferred to the start of the days walk at Teernakill Bridge near the village of Maam. Your luggage will be transferred to your next B&B as you follow the “Western Way” over the wonderful Maumeen Pass (Mám Éan), with its ancient shrine to St.Patrick. This pilgrim route is still used today and you will pass some of the “stations” and the holy well here. Descend from the pass and continue along quiet country roads to your overnight accommodation at Lough Inagh.
Walk Details: Distance: 9kms. Max. Height: 200m. Grass and muddy tracks, rocky in places. Can be very wet underfoot. Some road walking – boots
Your walk today starts from Lough Inagh and, continuing on the Western Way, you walk along the foot of the Maamturk Mountains through Letterbreckaun to Tullyconor and on to the shores of the spectacular Killary Harbour. to finish in the little village of Leenane. Overnight in Leenane.
Walk Details: Distance: 13.5kms. Max. Height: 150m. Grass tracks – rocky and muddy in places. Can be wet underfoot – boots essential. Some road walking.
From Leenane, you will be taken to the western tip of Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord. Following along the shores of this harbour, you follow an old “famine road”. At the end of your trip, an introduction to sheep farming can be enjoyed before your taxi arrives to bring you back to Leenane. Overnight in Leenane.
Walk Details: Distance: 8kms. Max. Height: 150m. Grass tracks – rocky and muddy in places. Can be wet underfoot – boots essential. Some road walking.
From Leenane, if you are returning to Galway City for onward journey, a taxi is required to take you to Maam Cross to join the main Galway-Clifden bus route. Your hostess will arrange/book this for you. At Galway Bus/Rail Station – you can then access all airports, ferryports or main cities by the excellent train/ bus services offered. A private Bus service also serves Shannon and Dublin Airports/Dublin City direct from outside the Tourist Office.