5 Reasons why the cliffs on the Aran Islands are drawing more and more people to visit
The huge Cliffs of Moher have long been recognized as a major Irish attraction, but the cliffs on the Aran Islands are drawing in more and more people each year. Read on to find out why.
The Cliffs of Inis Mor
The cliffs of the Aran Islands are savage and wild. They are natural beauty at its finest, and one of Ireland’s hidden treasures. You won’t find many caution signs or safety rails here. The cliffs get just a fraction of the tourists their more famous counterparts attract, and at some points during the year, you might find yourself to be the only person up there.
Stretching for about 8 kilometres along the western side of Inis Mor, exploring the Cliffs of Aran is all about witnessing nature at its most tranquil and powerful, and enjoying stunning views. Here’s 5 reasons you need to spend some time visiting the Cliffs of the Aran Islands during your glamping holiday in Ireland, and what you can see there.
1. Dun Aonghasa, Aran Islands
Dún Aonghasa is the most famous of the prehistoric forts on Inis Mor, and its origins are thought to date back to 1100 BC. It sits right on the cliff edge at over 100 metres above the ocean, and is a magnificent archaeological site with stunning views. Dún Aonghasa (pronounced Dun Angusa), consists of 4 concentric walls, part of which have been rebuilt and are over 6 metres high. The walls are arranged in a semi-circular shape, with the rear of the fort being the very cliff edge itself.
How to get to Dún Aonghasa
Many people choose to cycle to Dún Aonghasa, as there are other attractions to be seen along the way. Bikes can then be left at the Dun Aonghasa visitor centre, before walking up the final 1km to the fort itself. Another option is to include a visit to the fort as part of a hike. The site is busiest when the ferries from the mainland arrive and is virtually empty in the evenings.
2. The Black Fort
Dún Aonghasa might be the most famous attraction on the island, but the Black Fort (Dún Dúchathairt), is in some ways more intriguing. Whilst the design of the more well known Dún Aonghasa does give rise to the question was it a ceremonial structure or defensive, the Black Fort raises those questions further. This walled enclosure surrounded by cliffs on three sides features some intricate designs, and is so positioned that it looks absolutely stunning at sunset. A coincidence? Maybe.
3. The Worm Hole
The cliffs on the Aran islands are constantly assaulted by the elements, creating all sorts of incredible natural oddities. One of these, is know as the Worm Hole. This is a rectangular hole at the foot of the cliffs, into which the tide waters ebb and flow. Observers are often intrigued as to how this is not manmade, but geologists assure us that this is a consequence of weathering along joints in the rock which then collapsed.
The Worm Hole can be found be walking east along the cliffs from Dún Aonghasa, or by following the signs from the village of Gort na gCapall. Once you have seen it below, there is also another trail which will take you a little lower onto the ridge. Many people have chosen to spend hours here simply admiring this feat of nature. Interesting fact which has propelled interest in this site: – Red Bull regularly hold a cliff diving championship here. A sport for the truly brave!
4. Spectacular views
The cliffs on the Aran Islands are most appreciated by people who like stunning views. Which is everyone really! Whether on a bright sunny day, or a misty afternoon, the sweeping majesty of the views and cliffs themselves is something truly wonderful to behold. You can either cycle to various points along the cliffs, or even hike them. Whereas tours to the Cliffs of Moher often involve prolonged periods of sitting on a bus, and then being surrounded by other tourists, it is much easier to enjoy the Aran Island cliffs in solitude, especially if you are staying on Inis Mor itself. This way, you can pick which areas of the cliffs to visit that miss the ‘rush hour’ arrival of day trippers to the island who have turned up on the ferries.
5. Hiking Trails
Inis Mor is an ideal destination for people who enjoy hiking. Whether following quiet country lanes, or walking along the cliff edges, it is an excellent way to appreciate the natural beauty all around. One suggested hiking trail takes in some of the above attractions, and lasts for between 3-5 hours.
The walk forms a loop starting and ending in the village at Kilronan. It first visits the Black Fort, and then continues on to the incredible ‘Puffing Holes’. The walk follows no official path as such, but rather continues along the cliff edge. Exercise caution as you go, especially when nearing the Puffing Holes. These get their name from the waves crashing into the cliffs below, and forcing water up and out of the holes. A truly spectacular sight!
The walk could then continue along the cliffs and coastline, stopping by at 3 isolated beaches and an abandoned ancient church, before finishing in Kilronan once more. This hiking route is a great way to see the southern part of the island, and you can find out more by asking the team at Aran Camping and Glamping who will be more than happy to help.
Visiting Inis Mor
Whilst some people visit Inis Mor as a day trip, the best way to appreciate the Cliffs of the Aran islands is to stay a while on Inis Mor at Aran Camping and Glamping. The comfortable glamping units offer the perfect base from which to explore not only the cliffs, but the other areas of this small but fascinating island. For more information on where to stay and what to see and do on the Aran Islands, contact Aran Camping and Glamping.