Planning a trip to the Burren? Consider taking a hike and you will find plenty of beautiful sights along the route, according to Alex Girardi of Hillwalk Tours. The Burren Way is one of Ireland’s most inspiring landscapes, with an ancient history and interesting attractions throughout. The 116km long Burren Way is nestled in the very heart of the west of Ireland. The route incorporates authentically Irish towns, unique landscapes, ancient history and, of course, welcoming Irish locals. Other friendly locals - such as goats, cows and hares - roam freely around the karst limestone landscape. Keep your eyes peeled for the lizards that sunbathe on these heat-retaining rocks too!
Black Head, the most northerly point in Clare, offers views northwards across Galway Bay and into Connemara, with the eye drawn to the towering outlines of the Twelve Bens and Maumturk mountain ranges. To the west, the Aran Islands are almost within touching distance.
Here, Alex lists some of the wonders to discover along the Burren Way:
1. Ailwee Caves
Among thousands of caves in the Burren, Ailwee Caves stand out as being the oldest – presumed to be more than 350,000 years old. Stalactites and stalagmites have been formed and left behind by what was once a fast-paced river.
The 1km long cave system was once home to a pack of brown bears as bones and fossils have shown. Due to over-hunting, brown bears have long been extinct in Ireland but these cave systems are evidence of ideal homes for these mammals.
2. Caherconnell Stone Fort
Dating from almost 2 millennia ago, the stone fort at Caherconnell is quite a structure to behold. Circular in shape, it measures roughly 45 metres in diameter and is surrounded by a wall which towers three metres high. Ongoing archaeological findings at the stone fort further cement its reputation as one of the most important historic sites in the Burren.
3. Poulnabrone Dolmen
Just north of Caherconnell Stone Fort – not even 1km away – Poulnabrone Dolmen can be found. The Dolmen is easily one of the most recognised monuments in Ireland and so much has been learned about the history of the area from it. Almost four times as old as the Stone Fort, Poulnabrone was the final resting place of up to 22 people over the course of six centuries. Evidence gathered from this tomb shows that the inhabitants of the area were cow, goat and cereal farmers, showing that the Burren was once a far more fertile place than it is today.
4. Cliffs of Moher
The world-famous Cliffs of Moher tower a dizzying 214m above the crashing waves below. The Liscannor to Doolin section of the Burren Way allows you to take in their might. It’s easy to see why they were nominated as Ireland’s finalist to nominate an 8th Wonder of the World. One million tourists, almost a quarter of the population of the whole of Ireland, descend upon the Cliffs each year. While many stay around the visitor centre, the Cliffs actually stretch for 8km providing patches of respite from the throngs. About 40,000 breeding pairs of birds call the Cliffs of Moher home, with puffins and kittiwakes just some of the species that can be seen.
Plan your trip: Hillwalk Tours offer itineraries to suit all abilities along the Burren Way – you choose how far and for how long you want to walk and then just relax while they take care of the details. For more info, e-mail [email protected], or check out the Hillwalk Tours Burren tour page.
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