While some might argue this is not a real
mountain, I believe it is one of the best hikes in Ireland. This is by no means a difficult or long hike, but it is very scenic. Ireland is a low country, with its highest peak Carrantuohill in County Kerry at 1,041 m (3,415 ft). These cliffs are 214 m (702 ft) high which make them rather short, but some of the tallest cliffs on the western border of the Atlantic Ocean of Ireland and England. The total ascension is just about 214 m if you go on my recommended path, which starts just at sea level in the village of Doolin.
There are a lot of people that visit the top of the cliffs because there is a road and bus service that ferrys people to and from the top, but they miss out on the majority of the beauty on this hike. However, the hike up the edge of the cliffs is not at all crowded.
The easiest route is, again, not at all difficult, and is appropriate for unseasoned hikers. No special equipment is needed, just a good pair of hiking boots or sandals. The total distance is about 8km (5 miles) one way.
I would recommend staying and starting in the town of Doolin. This town is very accessible, has great hostels, wonderful pubs (for after
your hike) and great atmosphere. From Doolin, begin from center town Southwest on the Burren Way for a short way. The Burren Way will then fork to the left, and you will stay on a dirt road that has posted hiking signs for the Cliffs of Moher. This dirt road leads to the base of the cliffs, and leads you on the edge of the cliffs all the way to the peak, at O'Brien's tower. O'Brien's Tower is the best location from which to view the Cliffs; from this vantage point you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk Mountains to the north in Connemara and Loop Head to the South.
There are no fees or permits required. The hike along the edge of the cliffs is actually across farmer's land. However, due to the current land laws in Ireland, you are allowed to hike and camp on privately owned land. This said, it is courtesy to stay far away from any dwellings, hike just along the path, and camp just along the path and of course, pick up any trash or dog waste as you go. When I hiked it, I saw several local people outside their homes, and they are very friendly and wave, etc. There is a set limit on how close you are allowed to come near a person's house, but I couldn't find the exact number. Just use common sense.
If you wish to climb to the top of O'Brien's Tower, there is an access fee of a couple dollars, but the view from the top of the cliffs is spectacular enough.
I do not know if rock-climbing is allowed. I will try to research and update this later. I have never seen anyone trying it, and it would be a difficult and dangerous climb due to the height, wind, and ocean spray.
When To Climb
Each time I hiked the cliffs was in the Spring, between March and June. Both of these were beautiful times, although a little soggy. The majority of traffic comes in the spring and summer between March and October. However, the difficulty would not increase dramatically in the fall or winter. It would not be as nice of a hike due to the weather.
O'Brien's Tower is open March -> October 29, from 9:30a -> 6:00p.
The Visitor's Center is open yearly 9:00a -> 7:00p.
Camping is allowed along the path to the top of the cliffs. You cannot camp too close to other buildings or dwellings. It is best to stay near the trail. There are no huts and no camping/hiking fees.
The contact information for O'Brien's Tower is as follows:
This is the best way to get up-to-date weather information.
Just some quick notes. While I said that you don't need any special equipment, there are some general guidelines. First of all, this is Ireland, so expect the weather to change often and quickly. I would recommend that everyone should wear pants that have detachable legs. I would also recommend some kind of lightweight wind- and water-proof shell since it will often sprinkle rain, or at least spray on you from the cliffs. When the sun comes out it can be quite warm; when the wind is blowing it can be quite chilly.
Second, there is almost always a breeze blowing of some kind on the cliffs when you get near the top. You should be extremely careful about approaching the edge, because there have been reported gusts of wind 80 or 90 miles an hour that have blown people right off the edge. But with a few simple safety measures, you should have no worries about the winds.
Check out the "View More Info" link above for more notes...
aardwulf - Jul 3, 2002 11:40 am - Hasn't votedUntitled Comment
For after your hike, nothing beats a warm pub and a pint of Guiness. The absolute best pub in Doolin is McDermott's, located on The Burren Way just north of center town. Of course, never go to the pub the night before you hike!! On Friday and Saturday nights, this pub has the best traditional Irish music in Ireland.
Attila the Hun - Aug 10, 2004 11:04 am - Hasn't votedUntitled Comment
The county the cliffs are located in is called 'Clare' as opposed to 'Claire'. A small correction, but try telling that to a Clareman!!