The Carran Loop – A Burren Hill Walk

Fog in the Valley

Ascend to the plateau: The view south on a foggy winter day

Level: Hard
Length / time: 9km / 3–4 hours
Start / finish point: Park at Cassidy’s Pub in Carran — the trailhead is here.
Nourishment: Cassidy’s pub is open 7 days a week from April 15th 2017 and is home to good food. The café in the nearby Burren Perfumery is another excellent eatery nearby.

Termon Uplands

The view west towards Slieve Elva

This 9km loop begins in Carran — the only village in the Burren hills. The cultural highlight of the walk is Temple Cronan, a remarkable Early Christian monastic site set in a green valley, in stark contrast to the bare limestone massif of Termon you ascend afterwards.
Even though the peak is a mere 243 metres, it is never inundated with walkers. You may even have Termon’s generous plateau to yourself. Termon, coming from the Gaelic tearmann (sanctuary), is true to its name!

Termon

Stonewalls. hazel and hawthorn on the plateau

The views are lavish — to the south is Slieve Callan in mid-Clare; east is the wild, boggy terrain of Slieve Aughty; west is the dissident shale uplands of Slieve Elva in the heart of the Burren limestones. Most exhilarating of all are the views north — beyond Clare, into Galway Bay and chunks of Connemara.
Trek during the blooming season in May and June, and you’ll find patches of soil occupied by wild flowers with origins in different corners of the world. The most northerly point of the Termon plateau affords a stunning vista, too: a football stadium-sized depression known as the Glen of Clab. It’s a “darkly picturesque glen”, as described by the Irish antiquarian Westropp.

Glen of Clab

Glen of Clab

On the home stretch, there’s another sacred site — an eye-well dedicated to St Fachtna with a very impressive suite of dry stone penitential stations. It’s a vivid testimony to Ireland’s rich pilgrim past.

Termon, Autumn Evening

The home stretch on a summer evening.

The Termon Hill accounts for 5km of the 9km walk. So just over half of the walk features the region’s renowned craggy terrain. However, the biggest challenge in this rocky landscape may be the trees! Hazel is steadily advancing across some Burren hills due to the decline of the out-wintering of cattle. The hazel tends to obscure the way markers… so detective work may be required!

*This blog first appeared in the Irish Independent on 1st April 2017 as 1 of 7 walks in the article entitled “7 Amazing Walks in Ireland: Fresh air for every fitness level.”

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