The Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a 2,500 km long route that goes along the Western coast of Ireland. Following the coast, it includes drives through the countryside and along steep cliff edges. You might get lost along the way, although the very convenient signs will soon point you in the right direction again.
Looking for an adventurous trip, my cousin and I decided to fly to Cork, Ireland, rent a car, and go camping along the Wild Atlantic Way. We covered only a small part on the Southern end of the route, from Cork we drove down to Kinsale. From here we worked our way up the coast, all the way to Tralee. Then, we headed towards Killarney before we made our way back towards the coast and finally to Cork for our flight home.
Information Along the Wild Atlantic Way
In Kinsale, an adorable small town, we followed the sign to the tourist information centre. Here we picked up several free very useful guides. These included maps, routes, a guide with all the camping spots along the way, and booklets with hostel and activity information. These guides were incredibly helpful for finding camping places, especially because we were out of season and not all of them were open yet.
What I was really impressed with along the trail, were the great signs everywhere. These showed the logo in addition to an N or S, to indicate which way to follow depending on whether you are heading North or South along the Wild Atlantic Way. Although we got lost a few times (sometimes on purpose, others, not so much), these signs always managed to point is in the right direction.
Although we did bring a navigation system, we had little use for it because it doesn’t take the scenic route. It was useful at times (when we got really lost) but if you pick up some information booklets and watch the signs, you really don’t need one. You can read more about the route here.
What was a shame is that we did see plenty of signs for hikes, but they had no indication of how long the trails were. Although we did follow some of them, we weren’t sure if we should continue the loop. There are several multi-day hikes in the area, so we were afraid that we wouldn’t find the car again. Which is why on several occasions we followed the path for about an hour and decided to turn around. I’m not sure if we looked in the wrong places, but more details about the hikes in the area would have been very welcome.
Some Advice for the Road
What I loved about this trip, is the unexpectedness of it all. We camped (and I nearly froze to death) along cliff edges, made breakfast in fields along the road, went on spontaneous walks, peeked over cliff edges and saw the set of a Star Wars movie in the distance.
However, we were there out of season. About one third of the camping places along the way were not open yet. Although we certainly saw signs and heard that in high season it gets incredibly busy along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Whereas for me the beauty of the route was enhanced by its loneliness. There was something magical about camping next to the ocean with only one other spot taken in the whole camping space. Or about drinking a banana bread cider (because, why not?) and watching the sun set without another person in sight.
Also, the incredibly narrow roads will be much less fun to drive on when there are many oncoming cars.
In addition, be prepared for the weather. Although we were very lucky and had very little rain, it was really cold at night. My lightweight sleeping bag was certainly not enough to keep me comfortable. So if you do go out of season, bring proper gear. Of course it’s also possible to sleep in bed & breakfasts, there are plenty along the road.
Have you ever driven along a part of the Wild Atlantic Way? Or are you planning to? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!