Europe

Hiking at Hag’s Head in County Clare, Ireland

Towards the end of our second full day in Ireland, even though we had beautiful weather, we were feeling sort of ho-hum. After such a successful previous day at the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, our second day really wasn’t going in our favor. First, the castle we’d tried to see was closed, then Galway turned out to be a much busier place than we were expecting, and finally, once we’d returned to Doolin, the open farm we were excited to see turned out to be a children’s petting zoo instead of a real, working farm. Things were not going according to plan, but then we came up with an idea that saved the day – why not go hiking at Hag’s Head?

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hag’s Head is the southernmost point on the Cliffs of Moher. You can walk to it from the visitor center at the cliffs (about a 3-mile hike) or you can access it like we did – by parking less than a mile downhill and hiking up through farmland to get to the top. Parking was only €2 and I loved getting to see the cows up close. If you go this way, be respectful of the farmers who have been kind enough to open up their land and stay on the path they’ve provided. And I think it goes without saying, but don’t feed the animals without permission!

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

When we reached the top, we walked up to where the ruins of an old watchtower, built during the Napoleonic Wars to watch for enemy ships, still stands. From here, there is an unobstructed view of the Cliffs of Moher heading north to where we stood on them the previous day.

There wasn’t much left of the tower to speak of, but we were grateful for what little remained – although it was a sunny day, it was also a very windy one. The tower was our only shelter from the strong winds whipping across the Atlantic as we stood at the top of the cliffs. Before too long, we headed back down below where we’d have a bit more protection from the wind.

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Below the tower is a short walking trail winding around Hag’s Head all the way to where it drops off at the very tip. We hiked this path and then returned to the start of it again where we found a comfortable spot on a grassy hill to sit and watch the sun go down. I don’t know how long we stayed – hours maybe? I lost track of time. That’s easy to do in Ireland.

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

Although Hag’s Head gets its name from its unusual shape resembling a woman’s head looking out to sea, there is also an Irish legend claiming that Mal, an old witch, in love with the Irish hero, Cú Chulainn, lost her life here as she chased her unrequited love off the edge of the cliff. Irish legends may just be stories, but I personally didn’t want to take my chances and find myself up here with old Mal after dark, so when the sun began to set, we reluctantly said goodbye to our peaceful spot on the grass and headed back to town.

If I could do this day again, I’d have stayed in Doolin and taken a boat cruise out to the Aran Islands for the day instead of traveling to County Galway, but at least we ended the day right! I highly recommend checking out Hag’s Head when visiting the Cliffs of Moher, especially if you’re looking to get away from the crowds closer to the visitor center and see the cliffs from a unique location!

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Hiking At Hag's Head In County Clare, Ireland

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Brittany
    March 4, 2018 at 10:01 PM

    Great post and lovely pictures!! Do you mind sharing how you got to the parking first? This will be my first time in Ireland so I just want to make sure I get it right! Is there a GPS/map point you can share? Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Birthe (from Wandering.World)
    October 17, 2017 at 2:33 PM

    Hags Head is indeed a beautiful (and cheap) alternative to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. The views are equally (maybe even more so) impressive and it isn’t crowded at all. We were so glad we found this spot (thanks to Geocaching) and the drone shots we were able to make there are awesome. Didn’t know the Atlantic Ocean could be such a gorgeous turquoise btw. Isn’t Ireland amazing?

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      October 17, 2017 at 5:44 PM

      YES, it’s one of our top 5 countries! It was pretty incredible how few people were at Hag’s Head. We felt like we had it all to ourselves, which is extraordinary for a place like the Cliffs of Moher.

      Have you been to Cornwall? The water there is similarly-colored and looks more like the waters of the Caribbean than something you’d see off the coast of England! I definitely didn’t expect that in either place!

  • Reply
    Mandy Southgate
    May 20, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    How fortunate that you were at a loose end because I loved this post and I really enjoyed taking this walk with you. After reading Kevin Hearne’s book I am in no position to doubt Irish folklore! It’s all true, I tell you!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      May 21, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      I am a skeptic – stories like these are hard for me to believe in, and yet there’s still a small part of me that thinks, ‘What if they’re true?’ Better safe than sorry, I say! I didn’t want to take my chances being thrown off the cliff by an angry witch! ;)

      • Reply
        Mandy Southgate
        May 21, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        Precisely – I like to think I don’t actually believe in Leprechauns and angry witches but yes, always err on the side o precaution.

  • Reply
    Emmymom
    May 19, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Sorry some of your plans fell through. Love that cow picture. You seriously are making me just really want to go to Ireland!

  • Reply
    Jo
    May 19, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Those cliffs are quite impressive!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ DaydreamsofSummertime
    May 15, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    What a beautiful place! Your photo’s are lovely! Ireland is definitely somewhere i want to go.

  • Reply
    rorybore
    May 15, 2014 at 3:28 AM

    the views are just stunning! so beautiful.
    also, cow!! I just like cows. :)

  • Reply
    Quyen Nguyen
    May 14, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    County Clare is just stunning, and my favorite area in Ireland. I love that you focus on the countryside!

  • Reply
    Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    May 14, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    What a beautiful place – I’m not joking, I think you’ve inspired our next holiday…

  • Reply
    Michelle
    May 14, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Wow I love your pictures. So pretty!

  • Reply
    Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 14, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Hag’s Head was a favorite area of ours too! Glad your day turned out well!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      May 14, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      I remembered you writing about it! It wasn’t on our original itinerary, but when we got back to Doolin early and didn’t have anything to keep us busy, we decided to visit. I’m SO glad we did. It was one of our favorites, too!

  • Reply
    Katrin
    May 14, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    What a beautiful place! I think I would have lost track of time as well! :) And meeting cows is always a plus!

  • Reply
    Margo @ The Overseas Escape
    May 14, 2014 at 7:11 AM

    Beautiful hike! I’d love to do this at some point. Do you happen to have your full itinerary for your trip? I’m curious on how you choose to move around the country. There’s so much to see!

    • Reply
      Jamie | The Healthy Passport
      May 14, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      Me too!!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      May 14, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      We were only in Ireland for three nights, so we only stayed on the western coast. We visited County Clare and County Galway – if we’d wanted to see the whole country, I think we’d have needed at least 2 weeks. Maybe more! :) But here’s our itinerary for the three days we were there in case you want to use it!

      Day 1: Arrive In Doolin at Evening, Settle Into B&B, Dinner at Irish Pub

      Day 2: Cliffs of Moher, The Burren National Park (Both County Clare)

      Day 3: Dunguaire Castle, Galway (Both County Galway), Hag’s Head (County Clare)

      Day 4: Kilkee, Loop Head Peninsula Drive (Both County Clare)

      I hope that helps. Shoot me an email if you need more info!

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