The Wild Atlantic Way is the name for the 2,500 km coastal route along the west of Ireland where the Atlantic Ocean meets land. The route stretches all the way from Malin Head in Donegal down to Kinsale in county Kerry. The Wild Atlantic Way is scattered with seaside towns, beaches, cliffs, caves, hills and mountains.
My trips home are usually quite chilled – spoiling my dogs, lazing about and catching up with people. This time I only had one full day and wanted to make the most of it – so Mam suggested a road trip to the Cliffs of Moher. The last time I was there was when I was about four years old, decked out in an Aran sweater, on a family holiday.
This time I might be older but I still can’t drive. Instead I was on navigation duty. Dad had wrote down the directions (I don’t know how he just knows this stuff off the top of his head) and I brought an Ireland road map with me – taking the old school pre-Google maps approach. Despite the emphasis on not missing the turn right at Kinvarra, we breezed straight through and only realised when we came across a motorway that was not on the map. We eventually got back on track.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way, and it’s not hard to see why. They stretch off into the distance on either side of the visitors centre. There are two pathways. The official one is set further back from the edge. Being the daredevil that I am, I took the unofficial path. Strong winds buffeted us as we walked along the cliff side. It was cold and cloudy for the most part. But we still stopped every two seconds to take photos. The sun finally broke through as we were about to leave.
The scenic drive down to Lahinch was beautiful. Stopping off here hadn’t been part of the original plan, but it wasn’t hard to convince Mam. I was surprised by how many people were out on the water considering it was quite a cold February day.
This trip has made me keen for more Wild Atlantic Way adentures. I just need the weather, the time and someone willing to drive.
The overall route is broken up into six zones. In the Northern Headlands, the rugged and remote coast of Donegal is waiting to be explored. Along the Surf Coast, Strandhill beach is the place to go after a late night in Sligo – I can personally vouch for this. As I’m from Mayo, I’m already familiar with the Bay Coast, although I have yet to rope someone into climbing Crough Patrick with me. This is the mountain that has a church on top. And views of Clew Bay where there are 365 islands, one for every day of the year. The Cliff Coast has more to offer than the name suggests. We went here on school trips to the Ailwee caves when we were kids. The Southern Peninsula is currently top of my hit list. The scenery looks stunning and I would love to take a boat out to the Skellig Islands. And finally there is the Haven Coast, where apparently you can go on a whale & dolphin-spotting tour.