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. 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).
By contrast – 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.
In between these 2 contrasting landscapes lie the Aran Islands, Inisheer (near island), Inishmaan (middle island) and Inishmore (big island). Although the Aran Islands belong to Co. Galway, geologically they are similar to the Burren in Co. Clare with 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 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.
Day 1: We offer a Courtesy Transfer from Galway Bus/Rail Station at 16.00 hrs. if required for this holiday. We transfer to your first overnight location in Roundstone on the southern shores of Connemara. Islands and sea abound everywhere.
Enjoying our first evening meal together, this is the time for a general chat about the coming week’s hikes. You stay here for two nights.
Day 2: Errisbeg Mountain/Dogs Bay Beach is our route for today, overlooking the famous Roundstone Bog and the musical village of Roundstone. A great days hiking to this “wild” corner of Ireland. Return to Roundstone for Evening Dinner. Walk Details – Distance: 14 km. Height gain: 350 m. Walking time: 5 hours. Open mountains, across bogland & sandy beaches… opportunity to swim! Boots essential.
Day 3: From Roundstone, we travel to Rossaveel to catch the Ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. After checking in at our accommodation, where we stay for the next 3 nights, we hike to Dún Dúchathair, a spectacular cliff-top stone fort on the southern (Atlantic) coast of Inishmore. We walk back to our accommodation for our evening meal and overnight. Walk Details – Distance: 8-10 km. Height gain: 80 m. Walking time: 3-4 hrs. Minor roads, uneven rocky surfaces & rugged cliffs. Boots essential. (Ferry crossing approx. 1 hr).
Day 4: Today’s hike takes us westwards along the spine of Inishmore on tracks and minor roads. We visit the enigmatic rectangular pool known as Poll na bPéist or the Worm Hole, where turbulent waters surge and gurgle noisily at high tide. We then continue along the cliff-top to Dún Aonghusa, Ireland’s most famous stone fort. From here we return to Kilronan along the north coast, visiting the beach at Port Mhuirbhigh and the early church of Teampall Chiaráin. Evening meal and overnight.
Walk Details – Distance: 18 km. Height gain: 180 m. Walking time: 5-6 hrs. Mainly along minor roads and tracks, with some sections over rough limestone blocks near cliff edges. Boots essential.
Day 5: Transferring from Inishmore to Inishmean we enjoy a good days hiking around this glorious island – exploring it to its full potential and enjoying some magnificent scenery along the way. Return to our accommodation for dinner and overnight. Walk Details - Distance: 15 km. Height gain: 180 m. Walking time: 5 hrs. Small roads and pathways, open limestone pavements with no tracks. Coastal & near open cliff top. Boots essential and swimsuit recommended if weather is good!
Day 6: Transferring by ferry from Inishmor, we travel to Doolin – home of Traditional Irish Music, where we spend the next 2 nights. From Doolin we travel to the Cliffs of Moher for a hike along the cliff-tops to Hag’s Head. We walk back to our accommodation for dinner and over night.
Walk Details – Distance: 8 km. Height gain: 180 m. Walking time: 2-3 hrs. Level walk along abrupt cliff tops. Boots essential.
Day 7: Today’s hike takes us over the spectacular Gleninagh Mountain exploring some stone forts, before descending to Black Head. There are wonderful views across Galway Bay to Connemara’s Maamturk and Twelve Bens mountain ranges and across to the Aran Islands. Transfer back to our accommodation in Doolin for our farewell dinner. Walk Details – Distance: 16 km. Height gain: 380 m. Walking time: 5 hrs. Small roads and pathways, open limestone pavements with no tracks. Boots essential.
Day 8: After breakfast you bid farewell to this most beautiful and breathtaking part of Ireland. We offer a courtesy transfer to Ennis Bus/Rail Station for your onward transfer to International Airports, and/or other areas of the country. There is a good bus and train service to all major towns and cities in Ireland from Ennis.
Single Room Supplement: 8-day €255.
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Europe Ireland Outdoor: Land Rambler Walking Tours