Black Head Loop, The Burren - way to go
MAP: OS of Ireland 1:50,000 Discovery 51; downloadable map/instructions at discover ireland.ie/walking.
TRAVEL: Bus (buseireann.ie): Galway-Ballyvaughan-Cliffs of Moher, services 423, 050.
Road: From Galway -- N18, N67 to Ballyvaughan; R477 to Fanore. Park in Fanore beach car park.
WALK DIRECTIONS: Left along R477 (take care!) for a third of a mile; right at Fanore Bridge (OSI ref. M 145089) up side road for 2½ miles. Pass turning on right (174069; 'Burren Way/BW'); in 30m, left up track (BW; yellow 'walking man'; purple arrow/PA), past Cathair an Aird Rois, down to road (190070). BW turns right, but go left ('Blackhead Loop' fingerpost; PA) for ½ mile along lane, over stile, past house (PA).
Right up path (188078), levelling out on Poulanegh Hill and turning west, following PAs to meet cobbled path (197066) after 2 miles. Downhill towards sea; left (189097) along slopes. At gate on right, keep ahead (PA) along jungly mile; descend above Aghaglinny North onto track; left along cliffs for 3¾ miles to R477; left (take care!) to car park.
LENGTH: 12 miles -- allow six to eight hours..
CONDITIONS: Uneven stones on Poulanegh Hill; jungly stretch, slippery descent to Aghaglinny North.
DON'T MISS: Fabulous wild flowers; wild goats; Mass house and shebeen in Cathair an Aird Rois.
ACCOMMODATION: Hylands Hotel, Ballyvaughan (065 707 7037; hylandsburren.com).
OPERATORS/COMPANIES: Burren Guided Walks and Hikes with Mary Howard (065 707 6100/087 244 6807; burrenguidedwalks.com).
INFORMATION: Tourist Office: Village Stores, Main Street, Ballyvaughan (065 707 7077); clare.ie.
WALKING NEWS: Dunmore East Walking Weekend, Waterford: May 21-23, 2010 (dunmorewalks.com).