In my initial planning of the trip I expected us to get into Doolin too late to see the Cliffs and today would be when we saw them. However, I didn't realize how late the Sun sets in summer in Ireland. So instead we decided to explore what else County Clare had to offer, we packed our lunch (because we're frugal like that) and headed out.
Our first stop was to see the Burren. The Burren is the smallest of Ireland's six National Parks but is definitely the most unique. The entire region is covered in limestone which formed there as sediment over 350 million years ago. The Burren has been compared to walking on the moon due to the large amount of rock covering the landscape. While I can't confirm those reports as sadly I've yet to leave this planet on an adventure, I can confirm it was unique, to say the least. Our only hike in the Burren was to see the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a large portal tomb. As we drove through the Park we would look out on the rolling hills and it was grey everywhere we looked.
From the Burren we continued exploring County Clare we stumbled across Hazel Mountain Chocolate. This small chocolate shop and cafe had some delicious chocolate (though it was definitely expensive). If you like chocolate, which why wouldn't you, you should stop in and see this small chocolate shop. Right across a field from the chocolate shop is Corcomroe Abbey. The ruins of this 13th Century Cistercian were beautiful, if you have the time, I recommend making the Corcomroe Abbey a stop while exploring the Burren. Heading out toward Coole Park for a late lunch, our path was suddenly stopped by cows! It brought us great amusement to have a road completely stopped by cows. I am still looking for my path to be stopped by sheep but cows will work too.
The juxtaposition between our morning hike in the Burren and where we stopped for a late lunch was incredible. Our lunch spot was at Coole Park, a nature reserve in south County Galway. If you're nearby and need a relaxing spot to take a walk, eat lunch, or just enjoy a rare sunny Irish day I can think of no place better than Coole Park.
Upon arriving in Coole Park we headed into a walled courtyard area to eat lunch. We ended up feeling so relaxed we took a nap in the Sun on the field. While the Burren was desolate and rocky, Coole Park was alive with all kinds of flowers and tall trees. To me the Burren was interesting and Coole Park was beautiful. If you'd like to walk, there are two trails for you, the Family Path and the Seven Woods Path. The Family Path is only 1.5km and is a good length for a relaxing stroll in the woods. The Seven Woods Path is 4.5km and is incredibly relaxing. I highly recommend you take the longer path, it's definitely worth it.
From there we continued exploring County Clare, heading up to Flaggy Shore in the north and grabbing ice cream from Linnalla Irish Ice Cream where the ice cream is made from the cows right outside. We even found a small round castle because, of course. Ireland has random unmarked castles. We ended our evening with another hike along Cliffs of Moher and watching the sunset.
Our ninth day in Ireland was not filled with much of anything other than relaxation and taking it easy. We didn't rush anywhere, we didn't even know what we would see that day other than the Burren and Coole Park. If I was to plan the trip again I wouldn't have had us stay in Doolin an extra day as it would've allowed us to see County Donegal or even Northern Ireland, but hindsight is 20/20 and I didn't mind the day of relaxation.
Remember, Adventure is Calling!
November 2nd, 2016