West Clare is probably one of my most favourite places to visit but amazingly I had never ventured out towards Loop head or driven through some of the amazing villages along the penninsula. So on a cold but clear Monday morning I headed off from Tipperary towards Ennis.
From Ennis you take the N68 towards Kilrush ,and then the N67 towards Kilkee. The penninsula is situated in the south west of Co Clare. Its an 81km loop starting in Kilrush, then on to Carrigaholt, Kilbaha, Loop Head, Cross, Kilkee and then back to Kilrush.
After I had left Kilrush I missed the turnoff in Moyasta for the road to Carrigaholt(It is very easily
missed so keep an eye out for it!). I kept going and took the turn off in Kilkee for the penninsula instead. You are driving through beautiful countryside here and there are cycling tours all around the penninsula. So take it easy around the corners! I was heading straight for Loop Head Lighthouse and it was well signposted.
Its only 14 kilometres from Kilkee to the pretty little village of Cross. Cross is known as the gateway to Loop Head Lighthouse, the bridges of Ross and Kilbaha. There’s a shop here and a pub also. I wasn’t stopping for a pint though as I knew that I was near my first stop. I drove into the beautiful little fishing village of Kilbaha next and as you drive down the road you are met with the first glimpse of the beautiful Atlantic! Kilbaha is the last village before you reach the lighthouse. There are two pubs here and a lovely little harbour. This was a very busy harbour years ago bringing supplies to the lighthouse. There are stunning views of Kerry head from here accross the estuary.
I drove down past Keatings bar then at the corner and headed out the narrow road towards Loop Head Light house. You have no choice but to take it easy on this road. There is farmland all around you here also so you need to have your wits about you. The sea mist came down just before I reached the top of the headland so my view wasn’t great. You can still smell and hear the sea on both sides of you.
The lighthouse opens from the 16th March to the 5th November each year. Admission is only €5 for adults and you can take tours of the lighthouse itself also. While I was parked up another car pulled up along beside me and a group of walkers got out. They were brave souls on a day like that and they took off into the mist! There are cliffs on either side of you and I am told the views are amazing! Its definitely another place to visit when the weather is a bit better! I got back into the car then and headed back out towards Kilbaha. There are plenty of side roads that you can take here that drive closer along the coast. I decided to keep to the bigger roads and headed back towards Kilbaha and Cross. Around two minutes from cross I stayed on the road towards Carrigaholt.
Carrigaholt is a really pretty fishing village with beautiful castle ruins standing guard over the Harbour. I tried to jump the wall into the castle grounds but there was an electric fence there- this means that you are either tresspassing or there are cows! Not a fan of the cows I have to say.The village is famed for its dolphin watching tours and sea angling tours. It has two piers but only one is fully operational.
I headed back out the R487 then and passed through the small village of Querin. Here you find the fab Pure camping! This is a beautiful camping and glamping site on the Wild Atlantic Way and also offers yoga retreats. I think this would be a perfect spot for a girls weekend away or a family break away. There is also good fishing from the Pier in Querrin.
Although the penninsula was a lot quieter in November, you can still appreciate how amazing this drive is. This is the part of the country where people still salute you as you pass each others cars. The scenery is amazing, even on a not so nice day, and this drive is easily done in a day.
The Loop Head Tourism initiative focuses on the towns of Kilkee (read more about Kilkee in the blog on my West Clare Wander), Kilbaha, Carrigaholt, Moyasta and Guerin. The initiative promotes responsible and sustainable tourism among the penninsula and its fantastic to see a group paying so much attention to the future development of their local area. They have developed an amazing website that can tell you all about the penninsula and the best spots to visit. So if you are thinking of somewhere for a drive of an afternoon look no further!
I have attached a few links below for your trip, and as always, Happy Galavanting! xxx