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As the car continued to climb the narrow roads, the mist was not starting to clear. In fact, the only thing that was clear to me was the mist seeming to get even thicker. With its increased thickness, our chances of seeing the Cliffs of Moher decreased. But, thanks to some local advice, we weren’t off to the normal visitors center parking lot that would run us somewhere between 8-16 Euros. She had sent us down the road to take a right at the Rock Store and find our way up to the other car park.
Driving up towards the Cliffs of Moher earlier that day, it hadn’t even occurred to me that the mist would interfere with our views. It had been raining on and off for the entirety of our time in Ireland so far, but, for some reason, I didn’t connect constant rain with low visibility off the coast. Part of disillusionment I chalk up to traveler’s naiveté. The more that I travel, the more that I assume most circumstances can be overcome by some combination of preparation and luck. Unfortunately, the weather is only moderately impacted by luck and completely unaffected by preparation. It is what it is, even when you only have one morning to go and see the most famous cliffs in Ireland.
Before leaving our AirBnB just outside of Galway, our host had told us to look for the free car park just beyond the official Visitor’s Center parking lot at the Cliffs.
“They charge something absurd like eight Euros,” he shook his head. “Park in the free car park just beforehand.”
Maybe it was the mist, or maybe we just weren’t paying attention, but this supposed free car park never appeared. Before we knew it, we were driving by the official parking lot and wondering if we should just give in and pay the parking fee. An aversion to paying and the crowds of people that were already parked led us to continue down the road and hope for another viable option or lookout point. Nothing was showing itself until we saw a sign for the Moher Cottage, which boasted both coffee and a view. Sometimes the best finds come from pure luck or the pure necessity of coffee and a place to regroup.
The Cottage is a white building just off the main road. Our miscalculation of Kilometers had us thinking we must’ve driven right past it, when it came out of the mist and welcome us out of the rain. Maybe Marie could see our dejected looks because she immediately started questioning us about our plans for the Cliffs as she made our coffees.
“Go down the road” she pointed to the left. “There’s a car park that only costs two Euros. At least if you can’t see the Cliffs, you’ve only spent two instead of sixteen.” She continued on to explain how the parking lot was at the end of the Cliffs, but had access to the entirety of the walking trails all the way up to the Visitors Center.
“It is about a kilometer walk from the car park to the Cliffs,” she cautioned as she glanced out at the weather. After the amount of rain we had already endured, this didn’t seem like a big deal, so we finished our coffee, thanked Marie, and hoped we would have better luck finding this parking lot than we did the last one.
Following the directions perfectly, we took a right at the Rock Store (which was a store actually called “The Rock Store”) and follow the signs with the white P in the blue square, which seems to be the universal sign for parking. (If you’re using Google Maps, it’s called “Cliffs of Moher Liscannor Walk”.) It will be apparent upon arrival that this is someone’s house whose land abuts the Cliffs of Moher walk. The parking lot runs right up to the house and the path leads through their farmland.
If you’re going to follow these directions and ever park here, I’m begging you not to be a jerk. As stated before, this is obviously their home and that should be enough of a reason to not litter or off-road or do whatever other terrible thing I assume people do. Also, these people are offering a cheaper alternative to the overpriced car park at the Visitor’s Center and you should show your appreciation by following their rules and paying the two Euros. Unlike the Visitors Center, they charge per car, not per person, so the price is the same no matter how many people you have or how big your car is.
The walk up from the parking lot is definitely a good kilometer, although it may have seemed longer because we were fighting continuing rain and mist the whole way. The wind turned my umbrella inside out. The signs clearly note that the road is for walking, not for driving. Did that stop someone from driving up and parking by the gate? No. Don’t be like those people. If we can make it up in the rain, so can you.
Even before we got to the Cliffs, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to see much and we were proven right. Because the mist was so thick, we didn’t even bother walking too far down the path. Marie indicated that it would probably take at least an hour to walk from there to the Visitors Center. People online seem to think it takes longer, but it also depends on how fast you walk. The good thing about the paths is that you can walk as much or as a little as you want.
I sincerely hope that when you visit the Cliffs of Moher you have better weather than we did. However, if you don’t, I hope can take some silly pictures in front of the mist and just go with it. Now you know where to enjoy a cup of coffee and park your car, no matter what the weather.