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Ireland: Cliffs of Moher

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Cliffs of Moher | Ireland | Europe

[Visited: June 2017]

That morning, we were taking shelter in a small shack near Kilkee, and talked to the friendly locals while the rain rattled on the roof. When they heard we were heading for the Cliffs of Moher, they advised us to park at the southern side of the cliffs, and walk from there. The parking lot at a farmer's is easily found near Liscannor, and we walk through farmland neatly partitioned using stone walls, to reach the far south of the famous cliffs. We get a first taste of the scenery: dark rock cliffs rising sharply from the ocean below, against which the wild waves perform a constant attack. A square tower stands on top of the cliffs of Hag's Head: the Tower of Moher, where once stood a fort after which the cliffs have taken their name. The tower is fenced off, so I followed a small trail leading steeply down the rocks below it in search of views. Walking around a small promontory, the views gave me a taste of what lied ahead: steep cliffs both north and south, wind trying to push me away, rolling waves below, and a constant sense of thrill.

Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): View from the north along the Cliffs of Moher

Back on the main trail, we saw frequent signs telling us to stick to the official trail, but we could not resist but venture out to the very edge of the rocky outcrop for the best views. In some cases, we noticed that we had been standing on a ledge hanging in the air afterwards: what looks like solid ground from above, can turn out to be precarious when seen from a different perspective. It only added to the excitement. At one point, we found a section of flat rocks close to 200 metres above a rocky beach, on which piles of rocks had been built. I crawled close to the edge of one such flat rock, to add my own pile, of which the wind already blew away two pieces before I was standing up again to see my little mark. At the Cliffs of Moher, you have to be careful mostly because of the treacherous wind that blows hard one moment, then disappears for a second the next, making you unstable which can be tricky when you are right at a 200m-drop above the oceanic waves.

Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): View of the Cliffs of Moher from the south

Where we had seen a trickle of people at the southern side, we are surrounded by more and more people the closer we get to the visitor centre. The trail now turns into a well-organized, hard surface stretch of stairs, wall, explanation signs to further understand what we are seeing. At the same time, it takes away the thrill of standing close to the edge, looking down on the waves, feeling the wind pull and push. We walk the stairs to the circular Tower of O'Brien, which stands at the tallest point of the Cliffs of Moher, over 200m above the sea. Beyond, the good old trail is back, and with the wind blowing over the high rustling grass, so is the deeper sensation of being at a spectacular part of Atlantic coast. We walk to another section of flat rocks, lie belly-down to stare at the top of the surf on the rocky beach below. The sound of the wind is too loud to hear the crashing of the waves. We have reached the end of the cliffs, walk back to the Tower of O'Brien, where we enjoy the view towards the west, with the Aran Islands, lands further northwest, and the vast space of the Atlantic straight west. The skies are clear now, with clouds carried through by the winds. We return to a viewpoint where tiny Goat Island can be seen, which supposedly is home to Atlantic puffins, but it turns out to be too early for them. How much would I have loved to stay here, wait for sunset on the Cliffs of Moher - but it is getting late, and our stomachs tell us we need dinner, so we continue north to Doolin.

Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): The northern Cliffs of Moher rising steeply from a rocky beach
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): View towards the south of the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): The Cliffs of Moher are constantly pounded by Atlantic waves
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): View towards the north along the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): The Cliffs of Moher: the northern section
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): O'Briens Tower topping the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): The northern section of the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): Looking along the Cliffs of Moher from the south
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): The northern side of the Cliffs of Moher seen from a distance
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): View towards the south at the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): Stones piled up at the top of the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): Rock formations and cliffs at the southern side of the Cliffs of Moher
Picture of Cliffs of Moher (Ireland): The cliffs to the north of the visitor centre of the Cliffs of Moher

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