Ballycotton lighthouse from the trail

A must-do Irish coastal walk, the Ballycotton Cliff Walk is an easy 7.4 km out and back trail that starts from the beautifully rugged coastline of Ballycotton village, just 40 minutes from Cork, Ireland.
The picturesque fishing village of Ballycotton is home to this trail that seems to have it all. Wild coastline, sandy bays, dolphins, and a shipwreck, as well as an array of pubs, restaurants and cafes at the start and finish to keep any foodie happy.
With a total elevation gain of 583 ft, it’s a great walk for all skill levels, and most ages (buggies are not advised), the Ballycotton Cliff Walk in East Cork, Ireland, is accessible year-round and boasts impressive views from start to finish.

The Route

The trail starts by taking you along the cliff top, with beautiful meadow and pastureland to one side and stunning views over the Celtic Sea on the other, you’ll find endless reasons to stop – which is why everyone recommends bringing a picnic.
Look back over to Ballycotton Lighthouse (one of only two black lighthouses in Ireland) which sits upon its very own island. The trail connects the village with Ballyandreen beach, taking in the rugged cliffs before crossing a small stream and then running down to the bay. There are picnic benches at the start of the trail and plenty of other benches scattered along the route so there are lots of opportunities to stop and take in the spectacular landscape. Look out for the shipwreck of The Alta. Quite the tourist attraction, the 80-metre vessel was abandoned in South-East Bermuda in 2018 and then drifted 2,300 nautical miles before being washed up on this Irish coastline during Storm Dennis.

Ballycotton cliff walk on HiiKER

The Terrain

Predominantly single track, the path does become narrow in places, and depending on the time of year, perhaps a little overgrown, but that’s all part of its wild coastal charm. Being a more exposed coastline trail does mean it can get a bit blustery and damp during the wetter months, which also means a high chance of muddy boots, but as long as you step onto this trail prepared for inclement weather, mud, sand and sea and sun, nothing with come as a surprise and you’ll enjoy every moment.

Things to know before you go

  • Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Being such a beautiful spot, it can become busy, especially on weekends but don’t let it put you off. Simply plan to arrive early to get a good parking or plan to visit during a weekday if you’re less keen on sharing the trail with too many.
  • As you leave village behind, you also leave behind refreshments so be sure to take water and snacks with you, or a picnic to enjoy in one of the bays you get a chance to visit on route. Then, when you’re back in Ballycotton there is an abundance of small cafes, traditional pubs, and independent restaurants to choose from to re-fuel you.
  • If you’re staying in the area there is the choice of bed & breakfasts, self-catering accommodation, and hotels in and around the village, whilst campsites can be found in the surrounding area, approximately a 30-minute drive from the village of Ballycotton.
  • Parking is free and easy, located at the trailhead, which means zero faff – perfect if you have younger children and consider arriving early on weekends to avoid crowds.

Other things to do

  • The area is rich with wildlife year-round, from cliff-nesting birds and wild flowers to whales and dolphins, so set out on a nature spotting walk, stop often, and take in the beautifully wild Atlantic coast.
  • Visit the Ballycotton Lighthouse – Only accessible by boat, take a trip across the Ballycotton Bay to see this unique lighthouse and the unspoilt Ballycotton Island on which it sits.
  • Ballycotton Pitch & Putt – If you still have energy left after your wild coastal walk, you can’t go wrong with a game of pitch and putt.