The Burren Way is a 114km waymarked trail that brings together some of County Clare’s most spectacular features. Given the distance involved, this is a multi-day hike that walkers usually spend 4 or 5 days completing. The highlight of the trail is most definitely the Cliffs of Moher coastal path. Prepare yourself for kilometres of cliff top walking that is both breath-taking and awe-inspiring in equal measure.
Other highlights include the mountaintop views over the unique expanses of the Burren’s limestone pavement. Plus, the route also takes in famous tourist towns such as Lahinch and Doolin which gives walkers a chance to take in the amenities these locations have to offer (bars, restaurants, live music etc.).
Where to Start
I completed the Burren Way over 4 days in September 2021, starting from the seaside town of Lahinch and finishing in the village of Corofin. Although the Burren Way is a linear walk, one of the nice things about it is that there are offshoots of the main trail that take in nearby towns such as Lisdoonvarna, Ballyvaughan and Fanore.
This provides more walking options, plus helps when you are on the lookout for local amenities. The 114km of the trail includes these spurs off the main route. My 4 days walking took in 98km of the 114km total.
What to Pack
I carried everything I needed with me for the duration of the 4 day walk. As always with thru-hikes like this, the key is to pack light. This can be difficult in changeable Irish weather as waterproofs are advisable no matter what the time of the year. It’s vital to bring plenty of water with you as there are not many places to replenish fluids along the Burren Way.
A good pair of hiking boots is a must. While the majority of walking is along country roads, there are sections of mountain paths, forest walks, coastal trails and rough gravel tracks along the way.
My Burren Way Route
A good level of fitness is required for completing the Burren Way over 4 days. I have completed a wide range of hiking routes in Ireland over the past few years, documenting them in my wildirishwalks.ie blog. As such, I felt comfortable with the below distances. The Burren Way can be completed over a longer time period though. There are plenty of accommodation options along the way, so my advice is to plan rest stops around your own fitness level.
Lahinch to Doolin (28.4km)
Starting off on the Lahinch Promenade, I was soon walking along the beautiful sandy Lahinch beach. There is plenty of road walking along the Burren Way and this started at around the 2km mark as I crossed the bridge over the Inagh River. After a short stretch along the busy R478, it was on to much quieter country roads. 10km of inland road walking brought me to the village of Liscannor. Here I met the sea once more with the wild Atlantic coast a welcome companion for the rest of my walk to Doolin.
The best section of the Burren Way is undoubtedly the Cliffs of Moher Coastal walk. It’s about 4km from the start of the Cliffs to the official visitor centre. While the cliff walk closest to the visitor centre can be very busy, it’s much quieter on the approach.
The same can be said for the sections after the Visitor Centre. The cliffs get smaller as you approach Doolin but it’s still an amazing coastal walk for the remainder of the journey to the village.
Doolin to Ballyvaughan (27.5km)
Another long day of walking starts off with a section of road walking. For the start of the walk, the Cliffs of Moher were behind me with views to the ocean on my left looking out over the Aran Islands. The quiet country roads gave way to gravel tracks as I crossed Knockaun’s Mountain. As you descend there are good views of Fanore Beach in the distance. Soon I was moving uphill again. This time it was Slieve Elva. The starkness of the Burren landscape is really evident now. There is stone everywhere. The walls, the paths, the mountains. Everything is limestone.
After I crossed the pretty Caher river, it was on to the final incline of the day. This time, a steep ascent past the stone fort of Cathair on Ard Rios. The final 8km was mostly road walking before a forest trail approaching the town of Ballyvaughan.
Ballyvaughan to Carran (24.2km)
Day 3 saw me doubling back the 6km from Ballyvaughan to where I left the main Burren Way route the previous day. From there it was uphill for about 2.5km before coming to a mountain bog at the top. There are rough gravel roads through the bog so no need to worry about wet conditions underfoot.
After the bog, there was a brief section along the busy N67 road before turning right on to quieter country roads. It was a further 11km of walking along these boreens until I reached the village of Carran. There is a very steep hill before Carran. While it was tough getting to the top, the views were well worth the climb.
Carran to Corofin (17.6km)
The final day of my Burren Way walk was all road walking. It’s typical Burren countryside along the route. The highlights for me being the Parknabinna Wedge Tomb, the views over the lake at Inchiquin Lough and the peaceful nature of the water as I crossed the River Fergus close to my final destination of Corofin and a well deserved pint (or two).
Reflections on the Burren Way
Overall, this is a fantastic walk which really showcases the unique setting that is the Burren. Possibly a little too much road walking in places. If tight on time, I would focus on Day 1 and 2. Starting from Liscannor rather than Lahinch is also a popular option.
I’ve written about a number of other hiking trails on my Wild Irish Walks Blog. Or give me a follow on Instagram for more hiking adventures.