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Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
Date: 31/08/01, updated on 14/11/03 (31 review reads)
Advantages: Beautiful, unspoiled
If you ever get the chance to visit Southern Ireland, particularly in the summer time, do yourself a favour and get on over to County Clare on the West coast. This is truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, not least for its breathtaking views on the coast, north of Lahinch where the sea meets the hulking Cliffs of Moher.
They can be appreciated on a visit lasting a couple of hours, but I guarantee you'll be clamouring to stay when your time is up. If you love views, then pack a picnic and make a day of it. The Cliffs of Moher are not that easy to visit if you are backpacking. Your best bet is to go by car or try to get on a coach tour - even if just for the ride. You are also fairly near the Burren, which is worth a visit for a complete change of scenery. If you're interested in stopping the night, try local towns such as include Doolin, Ennis and Lahinch. There the warmth and hospitality, in true Irish fashion, will always make you feel like you've just come home.
At the highest point, the cliffs reach 400 feet, and they span six miles from each end. There are many different ways to experience the Cliffs of Moher, and if you have plenty time you can do some exploring at your leisure. As well as the cliffs and the sea, bird-lovers will delight at the number and variety of sea birds swooping around the massive vertical drops, and nesting in the cliff ledges.
The lightweight route, directly in front of the carpark, is usually buzzing with tourists at the high season, but is good if you want to take your time. A poor excuse for a barrier fence vaguely warns people to stay at least six feet away from the edge of the cliffs, but if you are feeling brave, you can duck under the two wooden slats that look like they would crumble if you laid a finger on them.
When I went, I edged my way to the end, than lay on my belly with my head hanging over the edge of the cliff. Below me I could see what seemed li
ke miles of jagged rocks, halted by the most deliciously azure blue sea I've ever seen. I lay at there for the best part of an hour, feeling like the luckiest person on earth.
Of course, I was lucky to have a clear day to enjoy the scenery. If it is at all rainy or wet, I strongly advise you to keep to the other side of the fence.
If you fancy a more challenging walk, ask for directions to Hag's Head. Located on the South West side, this is the highest point of the cliffs, and quite a stiff climb, but more than worth it for the views! On the north-west end, you can do some sightseeing from O'Brien's Tower, built specifically for tourists in Victorian times. On a clear day, you can see the Aran islands out to sea, and mountains from Kerry to Connemara from this dizzying vantage point.
This is a wonderful place to visit if you can catch a day that is just right - not too hazy on a sunny day, and not too wet or dull, on the other end of the weather spectrum. Although the cliffs are always hoaching with tourists at the busy season, thankfully the natural beauty has not been compromised to pander to them in the usual way. There are no shops or cafes, although you may find the odd hot dog van in the car park, or somebody selling trinkets on a side wall.
The French Riviera can keep their Med, Barbados can keep its beach - people - you have the most stunning place on earth just across the way. Forget scenes of freezing Atlantic waves, 12 feet high. This is heaven. I imagine my memory of the Cliffs of Moher is somewhat romantic and exaggerated, but I can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.
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