Clare / Hikes & Walks

Mullaghmore Loop Walk – The Burren

This post on the Mullaghmore Loop Walk was originally published on 6 March 2017 and updated on 1 July 2020

You can’t beat the Burren for a day of adventure. There’s so much to do in this amazing region and despite it’s bleak lunar-like appearance, it’s actually teeming with nature. One of my favourite things to do is lace up the hiking boots and get out amongst it! And my favourite hike is the Mullaghmore Loop Walk.

It’s a tough hike but the views are spectacular and it’s a great way to take in the unusual karst landscape, which the Burren region is renowned for.

Rock, rocks and more rocks!

Walking Trails in the Burren National Park

There are seven way-marked walking trails throughout the Burren National Park. 2 trails are at the Slieve Carran Nature Reserve, and there are 5 from the Mullaghmore trailhead. There are options ranging from a moderate 30 minute trail to more difficult and remote upland trails taking a few hours. Due to the terrain, none of the trails are wheelchair accessible or suitable for buggies.

You can find more information about each of the walking routes on the Burren National Park website. The route discussed in this post is the Blue Route (or Mullaghmore Loop).

Read more: An introduction to Ireland’s National Parks

Mullaghmore trailhead

The trailhead for the walks at Mullaghmore is located near the village of Kilnaboy, along the L1112. If you’re using Google maps just search for Gortlecka Crossroads. Once you reach the crossroads you’ll see the lay-by just next to it. When you’ve parked, just follow the blue arrows which lead you along the Crag road, to a stile, and on towards Mullaghmore.

You may notice cars parking along the Crag road but please stick to the lay-by. It does add some extra steps to your walk but ensures there is no damage done to the fragile environment which you have come to enjoy.  Parking is free, as is entry to the national park. 

Brightly coloured trail markings on the rocks in the Burren to mark routes

Choose your colour!

Mullaghmore Loop – Blue Route

The Blue Route is the longest of the trails starting from this point. It takes you across a remote upland area of the Burren, over very rocky and uneven terrain. It’s not to everyone’s taste.

While most agree the scenery is amazing, some people I’ve walked with have not enjoyed the hike purely due to the terrain. They felt they had to focus too much on watching their footing and were constantly looking down, trying to avoid a twisted ankle.

I’ve done this particular trail numerous times now and it can definitely be tough going in parts but I just love it. This area is so unique and Mullaghmore and neighbouring Sliabh Rua are definitely two of the most unusual mountains you’ll come across on your travels. From the summit of Mullaghmore, Sliabh Rua looks like some kind of giant fossilised cinnamon bun!

A pink evening sky above Sliabh Rua's twisted rocky summit.

Neighbouring Sliabh Rua from the summit of Mullaghmore

Walking time & distance

The Mullaghmore loop walk is 7.5km and takes around 3 hours. Though it usually takes us a lot longer with all the photo stops! So add extra if you usually do the same or like to spend a lot of time admiring the views.

More about the Mullaghmore Loop Walk Route

At the start of the walk you get lovely views of Lough Gealain, the lake which lies near the base of Mullaghmore. You’ll pass closer to its shores as you continue towards the mountain too.

The route itself is pretty straightforward thanks to the markings on the rocks. They can be a little tricky to spot at times but just stop for a breather and scan the surroundings. You should be able to spot the bright colours.

The final stretch to the summit is a bit of a scramble so you’ll be using arms and legs for a bit to make it up. Once you reach the summit, enjoy the views and then follow the arrows as they loop around the mountain and lead you back down again to your starting point.

Lake Gealain in the golden evening light with the unusual rocky mountains of the burren in the background

Looking towards Lake Gealain with Mullaghmore to the right of the picture in the background.

Good to Know Before you Go

Allow Plenty of Time

As I mentioned you will probably spend extra time on this walk taking photos or enjoying the views. Make sure you’ve plenty of daylight hours to complete the walk. We’ve made this mistake and not only is it dangerous and irresponsible, but it’s pretty scary.

It was winter so we lost the light really fast after sunset and ended up stumbling around in the dark. We had no idea what direction we were headed and it’s so easy to trip or fall on the uneven, rocky terrain.

Luckily for us, we at least had a head torch and José realised he had been tracking our walk on his phone. So we finally managed to make our way back to the road safely without having to call for help.

We won’t be making that mistake again and also invested in a proper GPS device for future hikes. So yeah, I definitely don’t recommend a late start unless you are well prepared, well equipped and well experienced. Of course the same could be said for any hike but since it happened us on this one, I felt I should emphasise that point!

Guided Walks & Summer Bus Service to Mullaghmore Trails

During the summer months (April to September) you can avail of free guided walks in the Burren. There are also free shuttle buses from the Burren National Park information point in Corofin to the trailhead at Gortlecka crossroads. Please note the bus is not operating this summer (2020) however, due to Covid19.

Lastly, a Tip for Father Ted Fans!

Fans of Father Ted can visit the parochial house from the TV show, as it’s very close to the trailhead.  You’ll find it along the road, a few hundred metres north of the crossroads. Bear in mind that it’s a private family home. So you can take a photo from the gate put don’t enter the garden or go up to the house. That’s unless you have booked in advance to have tea & scone in Father Ted’s House. Yes, it is actually open to visitors at times. Visit the website for up to date info. Ah go on, go on.

If you don’t have time to visit, and you have a pair of binoculars, you can try and spot it from from up on Mullaghmore!