7. A walk on the wild side ...
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
The Cliffs of Moher are not just a ‘stand and stare’ attraction for they offer a wide variety of walking opportunities ... but there are walkers ... and then there are walkers.
There are the loop walkers who only walk in circles, those who can only envisage returning to their starting point from a different direction. There are those, like me, who prefer the loop but know that a ‘there and back’ linear walk is always different when viewed from the opposite direction.
And there are those who opt for the longer, one-way, linear walk and make provision for getting back to their starting point on public transport. And there are those who can only cope with a two-to-three kilometre walk, those for whom double that is fine and those who don’t feel they’ve even warmed up unless they’ve walked at least 10km. Age, mobility, children and time of year can make all the difference.
Walking by the Cliffs of Moher offers everything except the loop walk and there are websites that illustrate the possibilities from, give or take, a kilometre, each way from the Visitor Centre to the lengthy Liscannor to Doolin (both on the 350 bus route to and from Ennis) walk via the Visitor Centre.
Of course there are some walkers who are not walkers at all but hikers, those for whom the terrain and the weather is not a factor and many of the websites detailing walks in Clare are not for everyone, they are for well-equipped, seasoned hikers with their waterproofed maps and compasses.
Personally, I’m a walker with a limit of 5km to 8km, ideally a loop, reasonably even under foot and, as my wife’s knees are not what they used to be, preferably not up or, worse still, down, the side of a mountain.
If that’s a club you’d like to join, then the following are my favourites, starting from proximity to Ardilaun, radiating outwards and staying pretty close to Ennis ...
Literally just round the corner from Ardilaun, Ballyallia Lake is a short, on-the-level walk with plenty of wildlife (see photo on Blog page) that will tax few. In 2009 a plan was put forward for creating a 7km walk round the lake (as opposed to only its eastern edge). In late 2020 this project finally got funding so it might actually happen in your lifetime.
Tim Smythe Park
On the road from Ardilaun to Ennis, and just on the edge of the town itself, the park offers lots of circular, mix-’n’-match, walking (and jogging) options in addition to outdoor fitness equipment area and two, safe play-parks for the kids, one for younger and one for older. A functional space more than scenic. .
On the road towards Ruan from Ardilaun and then left just before Ruan following the signage to Clare Cancer Centre. Parking not brilliant but walks exhilaratingly glorious with both linear and circular options (though the latter includes a short stretch of quiet country road). Probably my personal favourite.
Ballybeg Wood A few kilometres south-west of town, nearer to Clarecastle than Ennis ... best to check approximate location on internet and ask a local when you think you’re in the right area. Good parking and info boards on the various linear and circular walks, though some of the latter have occasional steep stretches.
Located east of Ruan, Dromore Woods has probably the best organised series of walks in the area. You can park at the entrance to the woods or drive further on to the several car parks by the lake where there are several interpretation boards and colour-coded walking route guides. The river running alongside is, of course, the mighty Fergus.
The ‘Cascades’, Lissycasey
On the Ennis side of the never-ending Lissycasey, there is a sign on the left pointing across the road, emblazoned with the word CASCADES; if you blink you could miss it and the short lay-by beyond. The wooded walk takes you up to a series of small, picturesque waterfalls and a picnic area. Retracing your steps is more rewarding than the short circular route back to civilization.
So now you have no excuse ... get your walking gear on, brace yourself and take a walk on the wild side.