Climbing the Cliffs of Moher
The famous Cliffs of Moher are one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland, with almost a million visitors a year.
After taking the car ferry over the channel from Troger, I headed for Loophead first, to check out the lighthouse and walk the loop around the peninsula head, with breathtaking cliffside views, before driving to the Cliffs of Moher. The drive on the peninsula is on some of those quintessential Irish roads – two-way streets, only really wide enough for one car, with grass growing right up out of the asphalt in the middle, but with quaint cottages to stop for scones, jam and clotted cream with tea along the way.
When I first pulled into the parking lot at the Cliffs of Moher and saw the hordes of tourists and tour buses, I almost left. But as long as i was there, I decided to check it out. It was late in the day, and there were more people going than coming. Hiking up to the cliffs, I realized it’s part of a long-distance walk, not just a place to peek over the edge and leave. You can do however much of it you want, up to the whole town-to-town trail that takes about 10 hours.
I spent about 3 hours walking along the cliff edge – the scenery was spectacular! It was gray and gloomy, but with great visibility; you could see the Aran Islands in the distance, and just a small bit of sun peeked through all of the clouds, creating a bright white spotlight far out on the ocean. It wasn’t the best light for photography, very flat, but I shot anyway. It wasn’t windy, and my fleece and rain jacket kept me warm, and warning signs helped keep me safe.
The path meanders high up on the cliff’s edge, muddy rocky trails between sea and fields of cows. It can be a dangerous place, intentionally or not, and there is a marker in memory of those who never left.
The Cliffs of Moher are made up mostly of shale and sandstone, and there are more than 20 species of birds living there, including Atlantic puffins and razorbills. An eco-friendly visitors center, built into the hill provides interactive exhibits giving lots of information about the geology, flora, fauna, and history of the area, and there’s a tower you can visit as well.
Even on a gloomy day, take time to hike the Cliffs of Moher, just watch your step!