The Burren – wild flowers and ancient sites
Our popular holiday to this delightful area of western Ireland, famous for its wild flowers, limestone landscape and fascinating history.
The Burren is known for its unusual range of plants, particularly for its arctic, alpine and mediterranean species. In amongst the limestone pavement grow a fascinating collection including colourful flowers, ferns, miniature trees, and several orchids including local specialities. The famous limestone ’pavement’ reaches the sea forming an attractive coastline and, to the north, lie the wildlife-rich shores of Galway Bay.
As well as botanical treasures, there are also good numbers of butterflies and dragonflies to be seen. Nearby are the stunning Cliffs of Moher, the second tallest sea cliffs in Europe and home to Puffin, Fulmar, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Black Guillemot.
The Burren also boasts an historical heritage dating from the Neolithic and we will visit historic sites such as Poulnabrone Portal Tomb and Corcomroe Abbey. The free day allows you to visit one of the iconic Aran Islands, only a short ferry journey away.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
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The holiday is ideal for anyone with a general interest in wildlife as well as the keen botanist. The local hospitality and good local fare are a bonus. You can also extend the trip to see more of this lovely part of western Ireland, or perhaps visit Dublin or another area of Ireland.
Day 1 – We fly to Shannon airport and transfer to Lisdoonvarna (approx 1 hour), a small spa town on the edge of the limestone.
Day 2 – We explore the beautiful area around Poll Salach where the limestone pavement stretches out into the sea. In the cracks of the rocks grow many species of plants including ferns, orchids, and many dwarfed shrubs and ‘trees’. On Galway Bay we will see shoreland plants and hopefully have views of the seals that breed in the bay.
Day 3 – We drive into the magical and remote area around Keelhilla on Sleive Carran where we walk across the limestone to a lovely moss-draped Hazel woodland at the base of the hillside where the remains of a sacred well can be found and the ruins of the 7th century hermitage of St. Colman MacDuagh. After lunch we visit the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey, with ferns and other plants growing on its ancient walls.
Day 4 – We travel to the saucer-shaped mountain of Mullach Mor and the turloughs of the eastern Burren. A wonderful landscape full of botanical and other interest. On our way back we will stop at the ruins of the ancient cathedral and Celtic crosses at Kilfenora and have a brief stop to see some ‘bog plants’ such as sundews and marsh cinquefoil.
Day 5 – We visit the Cliffs of Moher, the second tallest sea cliffs in Europe, famous for spectacular views, clifftop flowers and the wonderful experience of seeing thousands of nesting seabirds. After lunch we visit a stone fort at Caherconnell and the enigmatic Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, in an area also good for plants.
Day 6 – A free day with an optional boat trip to the Aran Islands, where a leisurely walk takes you around ancient, walled fields to discover the local history and way of life. A local walk, a trip to the coast, or a day in Galway or Ennis (both easily accessible by local bus) are also possible or just enjoy the ambiance of this lovely part of western Ireland.
Day 7 – We walk up the slopes of Cappanawalla to see Large-flowered Butterwort Pinguicula grandiflora and enjoy views over Galway Bay. In the afternoon, we will visit Fanore Sands to explore the dunes and seashore with its interesting fossils.
Day 8 – We transfer to Shannon airport for our flight to UK.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
We will be staying at Caherleigh Guest House in Lisdoonvarna. Our host makes us very welcome and cups of tea are plentiful. Each of the 13 pleasant rooms has an en suite bathroom (shower, some baths).
The cooked breakfasts are delicious. Evening meals are taken in nearby restaurants and include an evening at Ballinalacken Castle, a wonderful Country House Hotel not far from Lisdoonvarna, with views to the coast. Lunches are not included to allow for a variety of choices at local pubs or cafes. Picnic items can be bought locally if preferred.
Transport will be by small coach.
The group flights are with Aer Lingus from London Heathrow to Shannon
7 June depart London Heathrow 15.20, arrive Shannon 16.45
14 June depart Shannon 13.05, arrive London Heathrow 14.30
It may be possible to fly with Aer Lingus or another airline from other UK airports. If you wish to go by another airline, or not to fly, the price without the flight is £190 less. You could fly to Dublin and take the pleasant train journey across Ireland to Ennis or Galway and we can arrange for a transfer from either of these or you can take a local bus. You can also get the train and ferry to Dublin (via Holyhead) from your local station. Combined train/ferry tickets can be purchased at reasonable prices. A good guest house in Dublin can be recommended. Please discuss the travel options with us.
Ireland is the same as UK time
A passport is needed to fly to Ireland. Other forms of identification maybe sufficient if travelling by ferry-please check regulations at the time.
The weather should be warm and mostly sunny, although Ireland is always unpredictable and rain is possible.
Coach journeys are of between 20 to 60 minutes. Walks are of varying lengths but not more than about a couple of miles and we walk at a leisurely pace with plenty of time for photography. At some places much can be seen on short, half hour walks but at some sites we will walk for a couple of hours or so. Some of the walking is on limestone pavement and walking boots (can be lightweight) are essential. There is an optional walk gradually taking us uphill (and down) on one day (about half an hour gently uphill). You need to have a reasonable level of fitness but none of the walking is strenuous.