Walk In Ireland – The One With The Best Limestone Pavement
Walk this way to explore a limestone paradise on the Wild Atlantic Way in the West of Ireland – The craggy terrain of the Burren in County Clare is famously lunar in its appearance with its cracked grey limestone pavement stretching for miles upon miles.
Its probably the closest thing to the moon that most of us will ever take a small step or a giant leap on……
The Black Head Loop, County Clare.
This waymarked looped walk, the one with the best limestone pavement, provides outstanding coastal views of the north of the Burren, Galway Bay, The Aran Islands and Connemara. You will encounter the 340 million year old limestone pavements of the Burren, the Arctic, Alpine & Mediterranean range of the Burren Flora, churches and castle ruins along the way. Follow purple arrows throughout and you will even join the Burren Way for a part of the loop.
From Fanore Beach Car park, make your way northwards along the R477 for 1km, then turn right onto an old green road. Pass around Black Head, then climb over Gleninagh Pass on mountain paths. A series of tracks and trails bring you to a tarmac road in the Caher Valley, where you turn right and descend back to the R477. Then you turn left to Fanore Beach Car Park approx 700m further along this route.
Moderate to Strenuous – There are minor roads, green roads, tracks and mountain paths.
26km/16 miles/6.5 hours
Start and Finish at:
Fanore Beach Car Park, County Clare – 2km north of Fanore Village on the left hand side of the R477 between Fanore and Ballyvaughan.
How To Get There:
Fanore Beach, County Clare is located on the R477 Coast Road between Fanore and Ballyvaughan.
Check the weather and pack smart – Have a fully charged cell phone; Water; Snacks; Wear layers of appropriate clothing, waterproof jacket and correct footwear/waterproof hiking boots. Bring a camera for the fabulous views.
Leave word with someone about where you are going and approximately what time you expect to be back.
Never leave any items or valuables visible inside your parked vehicle.
After an energizing hike, you’ve definitely earned a treat. A dip in the sea at Fanore Beach will refresh you before you find a local venue for some delicious food and a well earned drink. Hungry hikers should check opening days and opening times in advance and maybe pre-book a table at one of the following options:
Ballyvaughan is approximately 20 minute drive from Fanore Beach.
The Hyland’s Burren Hotel, Ballyvaughan, County Clare.
The Tea and Garden Rooms, Ballyvaughan, County Clare.
Monks Seafood Bar and Restaurant, Ballyvaughan, County Clare.
O’Donohue’s Pub, Fanore, County Clare – A bright blue pub just south of Fanore Beach, renowned for it’s seafood and traditional Irish music.
The Flora & Fauna of the Burren.
The Burren region is internationally famous for its limestone landscape and flora. It is a botanists paradise! The views of the limestone pavement being punctuated by bursts of vividly coloured flora are abundant throughout the year. It is a wonderful landscape were Arctic and Alpine flowers grow surprisingly alongside Mediterranean species and where something is always in bloom.
Look closely during your walk to discover the true magic of the Burren. A wildly diverse ecosystem awaits any visitor to this corner of County Clare, dedicated a Special Area of Conservation by the EU. Of Ireland’s 900 native plants species, the Burren is home to 70% – including the mountain avens, an Arctic-Alpine plant brought here by glaciers in the last Ice Age. Between the limestone rocks you will see the delicate leaves of the early purple orchid; the white and golden Irish eyebright; the metallic blue flowers of Burren grass.
Formed millions of years ago beneath long-forgotten tropical seas, the unique landscape means that farming here is hardy and unique. Although the rock may appear bare and barren, the agricultural tradition is strong, dating back almost 6,000 years. Countless livestock graze the scrub in winter, clearing the ground of tough grasses and making way for the delicate plant life to flourish in spring.
Suggested Walking Guide Book:
A full route description is available in Tony Kirby’s Guide Book – “The Burren & The Aran Islands – A Walking Guide (Revised Edition)“. A Collins Press Guide.
We would highly recommend Tony Kirby & his “Heart of Burren Walks” and his guided walks are also recommended by guide books Fodor’s, Frommers, Lonely Planet, Guide de Routard and Rick Steves Ireland. Go with Tony and discover the Burren’s archaeological, geological and botanical wealth. Hear stories and folklore that will unlock the secrets of this extraordinary landscape.
Phone 999 or 112 and advise the emergency crew whether you need an Ambulance, the Gardaí (police), Fire Brigade or Mountain Rescue.
The Burren Walks “Leave No Trace” principles are:
- Plan ahead and Prepare
- Be Considerate of Others – Respect landowners, their property and their livestock.
- Preserve natural habitats and leave wildflowers undisturbed.
- Travel and camp on durable ground.
- Park in designated areas.
- Take care not to damage monuments, walls or buildings.
- Leave What You find especially the limestone pavements – Leave it as you find it!
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Minimize the effects of fire.
Minimize your impact on the environment. Leave nothing but footprints & take nothing but photographs.
Awaken Your Senses With A Visit To The Burren.
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Go n-éirí an bóthar leat!
Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is of the Burren, County Clare – Tourism Ireland ©Abbie Trayler-Smith
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