Following a recent brief jaunt in Galway, I decided to take advantage of the rare fine weather by returning home via the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s amazing what you can fit in to a few hours on a sunny day in West Clare!
I turned off for the Wild Atlantic Way at Kilcolgan around noon, and it wasn’t long before I was diverted from my route by a sign for Hazel Mountain Chocolate. It was only 2km off the road, so I decided to pay a little visit (YOLO, after all!). I was a little early for the factory tour (including tasting…) so just bought some of the delicious chocolate and headed off again. Obviously my purchases didn’t last long… sure they’d only melt in the heat anyway.
I passed through the pretty villages of Kinvarra, Ballyvaughan and Fanore, encountering some amazing views along the way – the stony hills of the Burren on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other – before my first stop in Doolin. I drove down to the pier, where there are public toilets (always a necessity on my itinerary) and a pay-and-display car park. The amazing geometric rock formations in this part of the country are just asking to be climbed, so I spent a pleasant hour clambering around the seashore. You do need to watch where you’re going though, as the cliff edges are unprotected and the terrain very uneven – in one brief moment of distraction, I ended up with one leg knee deep between two rocks, staring a caterpillar in the face!
On such a sunny day, I felt the need for a beach, so bypassing the Cliffs of Moher as I’ve been there several times, I moved on to the seaside hub of Lahinch, with its extensive golden sands. (Note to self: the surfing lessons really looked like fun – something else for the to-do list!). I walked along the water’s edge for about a kilometre, then found a sheltered spot to read my book in the sun for while, before returning to the car. (Another pay-and-display car park, and yes, public toilets!).
After a pleasant hour or so in Lahinch, I drove on down through Quilty, past the gates of Trump Doonbeg (I might have gone in for a look but I don’t think my shiny red face, hat hair and sandy runners would have fitted in!), and on to my final stop, Kilkee. I was really sorry that I hadn’t come here earlier, as it also has a lovely beach and an AMAZING cliff walk. Again, there’s a wonderful rocky seashore complete with rockpools brimming with life; I was transported back to my secondary school biology days as I tried to identify the marine life on show!
Following the path higher up the cliffs, I soon encountered some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever witnessed, and the best thing is that it’s completely unprotected so you can go right out to the cliff edge and look down on the water and the beautiful rock formations below. I only had time to cover about a kilometre of the walk, but I will definitely be back to complete it – there’s both a 5K and 8K option. I’d imagine it could be even more spectacular – if a little scary! – on a wilder, windier day.
I know I was lucky to get such a beautiful day in April, but if you ever have a few hours to spare, you could do worse than spend them on the west coast of Clare!