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Nestled in Burren National Park, this loop provides you with views of an organic farm, livestock and richly coloured limestone.
Recommended by Eoin Hogan
This 8km walk starts and finishes at Mullaghmore Crossroads in Burren National Park, County Clare. The hike takes about 2 to 2.5 hours to complete. The trail isn’t strenuous, but the terrain can be challenging at points.
The Lough Avalla Farm Loop brings together the all the best the Burren has to offer. The trail goes through classic Burren limestone pavement, hazel woods and beautiful geological features. The highest point on the trail gives you stunning views of Mullaghmore and across the Burren. The farmers have added lovely personal touches to the trail, including hand-built hazel gates and stiles.
Starting at Mullaghmore Crossroads, the nearest town is Kilnaboy. Coming from Ennis/Corofin, turn right in Kilnaboy and follow the L1112 for 5 km until you reach the Crossroads.
From the Mullaghmore Crossroads, the trail follows the green road shared with the Burren Way. After 1.5 km, you leave the green road and enter one of the many hazel wood sections.
The landowners, Harry and Maria Jeuken, are certified organic farmers and also farm biodynamically. Harry has lived in Ireland since 1973 and worked in Kilkenny and Connemara. He always felt drawn to the Burren and brought the Lough Avalla farm 17 years ago. Their main farming activities involve a herd of white-belted Galloway cows and goats, but they also keep donkeys, pigs and sheep. To help walkers, Harry has provided a stash of handmade hazel walking sticks for visitors to use and drop back on the return leg of the loop.
The trail continues through the hazel wood, through a number of handmade hazel gates and stiles, and past a holy well. Harry has also hung two glass mugs from a hazel tree to allow walkers to drink from the well. The water of the well is said to cure diabetes provided you drink it in situ over six consecutive days!
On exiting the wood, you traverse a beautiful example of Burren limestone landscape up to the highest point on the trail. From the plateau, you can take in the panoramic view of the Burren, Lough Gealain, and majestic Mullaghmore with its distinctive limestone layers.
Keep an eye out for Harry’s herd of white-belted Galloway cows who graze the trail and are moved to the uplands for “winterage,” an ancient traditional farming method in the Burren where cows spend the winter grazing. This “transhumance” tradition is synonymous with the Burren and is key to the survival of the region’s famous flora and fauna. Visit Burren Winterage for more information on these practices.
The trail then weaves its way downhill through more hazel wood and past an example of a limestone erratics, rock fragments transported by glaciers that differ from the local bedrock.
At this point, the trail skirts Lough Avalla, through the goat farm and back to the Green Road where you can drop back your walking stick.
Hiking boots are a necessity here, as the limestone can be very slippery, especially after rainfall. Also, due to the livestock, no dogs are allowed on the trail.
View Lough Avalla on Google Streetview.
View the intersection and Mullaghmore Crossroads.
Check out our Hard as Nails podcast:
When you’ve had the walk, you have to go down to Lough Avalla farm for tea and scones. Best scones in the world!
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