Ballyvaughan - Black Head loop

County Clare
9 reviews
Grade Strenuous
Length 26 km
Time 7 hours
Format Loop
Ascent 480 m
Dogs Allowed No
Waymarking Purple arrow on white background
Start Point
Fanore Beach mapboard
Finish Point
Fanore Beach mapboard
Nearest Town to Start Ballyvaughan
Lat. and Long. 53.11837, -9.28206

This loop is a mix of Burren hill and coast, following green laneways, tracks, and mountain paths and taking in Fanore Beach, the Caher Valley and part of Gleninagh Mountain with some wonderful views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands. It is also rich in the Burren wildflowers.

Maps and other information


Car park

Trekking shoes, raingear and fluids are recommended

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheet 51
9 trail reviews
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Jim from Ireland

This is a spectacular walk with wonderful scenery! However, the Gleninagh section is a disaster and serious accidents are waiting to happen. This walk is ruined by that section. If you didn't bring long pants prepare to have bloody legs at the end from thorny briars and jutting branches. In some places it is dangerously slippery with steep drops. Why this section can't be remedied is a mystery!

Helena from Limerick

Fantastic walk and views but the greenery section is totally overgrown and difficult to navigate as a result. Could do with some much needed cutting back/ dangerous at times as you cannot see underfoot .

Cathal from Clare

An absolutely stunning hike. The scenery and landscape is breathtaking. It is a cgallenging enough hike with a lot of ascending and descending on varying under foot conditions. I really enjoyed it even though I completed the hike in windy conditions. It is the nicest hike I have done in a long time and I would highly recommend it.

Fergal from Clare

What a great walk with great views throughout. Just completed together with my wife and took just under 6hrs. Weather was sunny and dry so no issue with mud or puddles. Will definitely do this walk again.

John from Kilkenny

I walked this route last Saturday. It is very challenging but rewarding. I started at Fanore beach area walked along a beautiful coastal path with spectacular scenery and panoramic view of the Aran Islands.This was easy. The next section along Gleninagh is somewhat overgrown and narrows the passage making it a little tougher to negotiate but manageable nonetheless. This is the toughest section in my opinion as you then face a climb to the top of the mountain. Once up there, it is easy again and was well marked. The next section on to Caher Valley had a tough climb that seemed to rise endlessly with peak after peak. It is a lovely passage but challenging climb all the way. Once you reach the top the hard climb is over and easy walk after that but still a way to go. It was nearly dark when I reached my car so I was relieved to get back. Glad I brought proper gear as it was hot, then cool then it rained a little. Daylight was fading for me as I left it late to start and I could see no houses about for long period so allow yourself time. Highly recommend this. I'd say allow 6-7 hours for comfort.

Ronan from Clare

Just back from this walk - tough enough, but very rewarding with views and terrain. However, the greenery on the portion of the walk adjoining Gleninagh is in need of cutting back. The passage is fairly narrow for about 4km and is overgrown so I got very wet from the moist foliage. Anyway, grateful for the route all the same.

Damian from Galway

Just stunning. I could add as many adjectives as possible but it can't describe such amazing scenery. It's a tough walk, no question, but WOW! Well done to those who marked out this trail, the signage is exceptional.

Caroline from Mayo

Excellent walk. Tough but well marked. Will do it again.

Mary from Wicklow

Without question, this is one of the best walks in Ireland, particularly during the wild flower season from April to July. For those who do not need a punishing 26k circuit on rocky ground, it can be broken into two walks, using the short cut back through the Caher valley to convert the loop to a figure of 8 which produces two excellent all-day walks of about equal length, the northern one (via Black Head) containing the best of both scenery and botanical interest. The green road over Black Head offers constant visual challenge between the distant views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands and the delights of the wildflowers and the Burren geology at closer range.

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