Near Death at the Cliffs of Moher

o'Briens Tower

We were full of food and ready for the epic 15 km return trip walk to the outer reaches of the Cliffs of Moher. I have been asked if there is a way to get a taxi back or a bus – NO.

Simply put, no. There are no roads down toward the end of the Mohers reach – farmland only. And as the sign points out, they would rather you NOT walk to the end and chance being blown off the cliff edge.

When I asked security (on my first visit) if they would stop me if I passed the warning sign, he replied to me (in an unintelligibly glorious accent);

“Nooo, aye love, that is between YOO and yer GAAAWD”

I was shocked by the narrow pathway we were to walk. No more than a foot or two wide in most areas, dirt (which equals mud in the rain as we would find out), and DIRECTLY beside the 700 + foot drop into the ocean.

We only took pictures in the areas where the path widened and moved slightly away from the edge!

Couple at the Cliffs Moher Tourists

I had been waiting three years to have the chance to make it out to the Moher Tower and was completely exhilarated to finally be having the chance again – and this time I would not have to run back – little did I know that I would prefer that outcome in the end.

I realized pretty quickly that I was NOT wearing walking shoes. My ‘fake chucks’ from Thailand were cutting into my feet and tearing at my skin. Initially I didn’t care – being too elated to concern myself with such issues – but that too would change.

On The Edge

The walk was intense and at moments very scary! It may sound mellow-dramatic from this end, but we were worried for our lives at times. The wind blew madly (as it usually does from this spot on the planet) and at points of our path we were on the ‘wrong side’ of an archaic stone slab wall – the cliff side, which would widen and narrow with erosion, leaving nothing to hang on to.

In one area, as we walked, the sound of the sea birds increased to a nearly deafening level – yet we could not actually see any birds. Finding some courage we inched toward the edge to look down and saw the interesting rock formation depicted below. The birds were using the portal as a hotel, a very popular stop off judging by the noise.

Extremely noisy!

Extremely noisy!

While some people did embark on the tour into the restricted zone, very few were left by the 3/4 point and as we neared the Tower, we were the only ones left. We did however meet a pair of boys along the way who were determined to act like idiots. They obviously had not done their research and found the accidental Moher death stats (averaging 10 a year, so says the internet).

I considered saying something, but remembered what the Scottish attendant had told me years before – it is between them and their God – and few people would think it very smart to be out here at all, as we indeed were. But woah, stupid. If you find yourself inspired to head out to the Cliffs of Moher, PLEASE do not attempt what the fellows below are doing.

Risky Behaviour

Extremely STUPID!

We made it to the tower at the end just as it started to rain. I removed my shoes to discover the horrible thrashed mess that were now my feet. I knew I was not putting them back on and would be walking back barefoot. It was now starting to rain, which was particularly frightening – on the way out my husband noted;

“Its a good thing it isn’t raining – it would be very slippery and a hell of a lot more dangerous if it were!”

Jynx, damn it!

As I mentioned before, the tower didn’t look familiar to me, and history does not note any other building having stood on this spot, which though ‘familiar’ in appearance, did not evoke any ‘spiritual bells’. No, this was not the location of my dream.

An Irish Cow

My husband laughed his head off at this news, exhausted and traumatized by the treacherous 7.5 km walk, knowing we had to do the same trek back – this time in the rain, barefoot and defeated. He was not impressed!

We were not as awed by the landscape on the way back – this time we simply walked, trying to be sure of our footing on the slippery mud path, heads down, no photography.

My bare feet were much slip-pier than my running shoe-d feet and I was noticing a dramatic difference as we traversed the cliff edge. As we walked as quickly as we could, as safely as we could, my husband yelled out in front of me;

“We have to turn back and find a different route, it is getting too narrow here…”

We had been plodding along the edge side of the stone wall (where we were supposed to be, technically). I looked behind and saw that the distance we would have to retreat to make it around to a different route was fairly great and so I responded;

“No, it is too far back, just go – GO!”

We walked a few feet further when he turned to me and said;

‘”No Ana, I can’t – LOOK ahead of me…”

When I looked, right in front of him – and I mean RIGHT IN FRONT of him was an immediate SLIPPERY drop off into the ocean abyss. The land had obviously eroded and dropped entirely away. The stone slat wall above it was wedged precariously between the other stones – without touching land – THERE WAS NO LAND!

I had pushed my husband to within two feet of his imminent death – a complete 700 foot drop – so close in fact that I immediately panicked, slipped and had to grab the CRUMBLING wall for support. It did fall to pieces in my hand. I threw myself in the direction of the wall and dug my bare toes into the mud for dear life. My husband let out a strange yelp.

I survived, and so did he.

We quickly back tracked the narrow ledge and when we had made our way onto the farmers field (where technically we were not supposed to be), we collapsed and laid for a while on the safe grass, far from the edge.

Holding the Stone Wall A Dangerous Path

When we got up, and could breathe normally again, we finished the rest of our return trip trespassing through farmers fields discussing what we would have done if one of us had ended up over the cliff. I will never forget what my husband said;

“When I saw you slip, I was ready to jump in after you, so at least we could both die together.”


Many additional photos in the slideshow.

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You can follow this tour by heading to the ‘8 Country EU Tour‘ section. Many more photos of Ireland at the Habitual Runaway on Facebook.


41 responses to “Near Death at the Cliffs of Moher

  1. I am so afraid of heights, so the whole time I am reading this I am grasping my chair and holding my breath for you! Wow! You are braver than I 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing


  2. Well anyone who has had a near death experiences are in some way reborn again! I love to interact with such Souls anywhere under the Sun as they are the most fortunate Souls because it’s nothing short of a completely Divine experience!! They are the only Souls who has experienced heaven even if it was for a fleeting moment. They are “True messengers of God who have come again to implement God’s Will”


    • I have been ‘fortunate’ enough to have a few of these experiences – the most extreme of which being an aneurism that took me years to recover from in the mid 1990’s.

      Indeed they did help secure me on my current path – nothing like almost dying to make you re-analyze what is important in life! =)


  3. Just reading that makes me feel a little ill. I don’t mind heights as long as I know I can’t fall. We took our girls to the Cliffs of Moher in 1999 and we all stayed well back. Isn’t it the most spectacular place.


  4. Brilliant pictures! I’m pretty sure a trip to the cliffs when I was young is the reason for my fear of heights lol 😉

    Thanks for sharing!



  5. Gee, and I thought my trip in the boat going around was treacherous. Tipping from side to side…feigning nausea…balancing on the back trying to take photos.

    Glad you made it. Wow!


    • Oh goodness – a boat I could not do!! Even the thought! Must have been incredibly beautiful though…quite something, the cliffs!

      It was a bit more adventure than we were planning on, for sure!!


    • Oh thank you Nia – our hearts still pound when re-telling the story too! We refer to it as the time ‘I nearly killed my husband’. Really, I almost did… could you imagine? Gah!


      • You know, it’s those mundane things that really are dangerous! It’s also really easy to get run over while walking around in foreign cities. We had a few close calls recently, with a bus in Paris (me) and bikes in Amsterdam (my husband). *bites nails* I’m so glad it turned out okay.


        • Oh goodness! Paris can be really crazy to traverse – and Amsterdam goes without saying! You really don’t want to get mowed down by a bike in Amsterdam! My goodness!!


    • Oh yes, vertigo – The best vertigo can be found at the cliffs of Moher! I don’t know whats wrong with me – I don’t like heights either – but feel compelled to do ridiculous things ;). Thank you!


  6. Scary! I am terrified of heights so I stayed well away from the edge. My husband went closer to the edge and he was freaking me out.

    It’s interesting how photos of the cliffs (including the ones I took) never show accurately just how high above the sea they rise. They always look shortened.


    • Oh goodness yes – the photos do nothing to show how incredible the drop down is! And into the choppy, raging ocean!

      Thinking about nearly forcing my husband to his death STILL makes me feel sick!! 😛


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