The Ardmore Cliff Walk is one of my favourite things to do in Waterford.
And if cliffs, beaches and glorious coastal scenery tickles your fancy, the chances are you’ll love it too!
It’s on the cliff walk in Ardmore that you will see evidence of Ireland’s ancient Christian past, where St. Declan established a ministry before St Patrick came along.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from an Ardmore Cliff Walk map to where to park and what to see along the way.
Some quick need-to-knows before doing the Ardmore Cliff Walk
Although the Ardmore Cliff Walk is more straightforward that some walks in Waterford, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The walk is looped (thankfully!) and it starts and finishes at the popular Cliff House Hotel. It is well waymarked by yellow arrows on a brown background.
You can park near Ardmore Beach, but bear in mind this is a popular tourist destination in the summer, and it does get busy, so it might be worth scheduling your walk for early in the day.
3. Length/time to walk
The Ardmore Cliff Walk is about 4km in length, and it takes an hour or so to do the full loop, depending on your pace/how many times you stop.
4. Difficulty level
This is one of the handier walks in Waterford. However, although it’s graded as ‘easy’, you need to be careful and avoid getting close to the cliff edge.
An overview of the Ardmore Cliff Walk trail
The Ardmore Cliff Walk map above will give you a good idea of the route you’ll follow and, as it’s signposted, you shouldn’t have any hassle following the trail.
Here’s some other handy need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more straightforward. Dive on in!
Where it starts
The cliff walk in Ardmore kicks off from the Cliff House Hotel (here it is on Google Maps). Walk past the hotel (it’ll be on your left) and you can’t miss the beginning of the trail straight ahead of you (there’ll be a notice board with a sign in front of it).
Pass the Cliff House Hotel to go around Ardmore Head and Ram Head, and this will bring you onto the clip top paths. Continue towards Ardmore Head, which offers you stunning views of the sea and landscape and walk past the shipwreck.
The Samson Shipwreck ran aground at Ardmore in 1987. It had left Liverpool and was on its way to Malta. Thankfully, those aboard made it off safely.
Keep an eye out for the two lookout posts and Father O’Donnell’s Well, too. The trail eventually leaves the cliffs behind and moves to a road with fields on either side, before returning back to the Cliff House.
Things to look out for
Where do we start? There are loads of things to see on the cliff walk in Ardmore. St. Declan’s Well is an ancient Christian site that is visited by thousands of pilgrims every 24th of July on his Saint Day. You will see crosses hand scored against the stones of the building.
There is also the coastguard station, the second one in the village after the first one fell victim to coastal erosion and it is a now a private residence. The shipwreck is known as Sampson and met its watery end on a stormy night in 1988.
There are two lookout posts – one built in the 19th century to serve as an early warning system of French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars and the second one for observation during the Second World War.
Father O’Donnell’s Well takes you on a walk covered with many varieties of flora, fauna and birdlife. As you approach the village once more, you’ll see the 12th century Round Tower.
Things to do after the Ardmore Cliff Walk
One of the beauties of the Ardmore Cliff Walk is that, once you’ve conquered it, you’re a short walk away from food and more things to see and do.
Below, you’ll find places for lunch along with some unique attractions and the mighty Ardmore Beach.
1. Grab coffee of food at the Cliff House Hotel
If all that walking has made you hungry and thirsty, you’re in exactly the right place for refreshment post exercise. The Cliff House is one of the most incredible hotels in Waterford. It’s also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant. You can eat in the bar or restaurant – the former offers a wide selection of sandwiches and seafood, or why not treat yourself to an afternoon tea?
2. Head for a ramble along Ardmore Beach
Ardmore Beach is popular in the summer because of its safe bathing waters but is also a great place for a stroll along the sand. Arm yourself with an ice-cream and enjoy the sea air.
3. Hit the water with Ardmore Adventures
If you’re a big fan of the outdoor life, Ardmore Adventures offers kayaking, canoeing, white water rafting and stand-up paddle boarding. Remember to book well in advance to ensure your spot.
4. Visit Ardmore Round Tower
The 12th century Round Tower is well worth a visit. While it may be of 12th century origin, it could be as old as the 10th century. The first mention of the tower was in 1642, as it and a nearby castle were occupied by Irish forces during the English Civil War, and it is thought that floors and ladders existed then because it is said to have held 40 men during a battle.
FAQs about the cliff walk in Ardmore
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long the walk takes to what to see en route.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
How long is the Ardmore Cliff Walk?
The Ardmore Cliff Walk is 4km in length and it’ll take you around 1 hour to complete it (allow extra time for soaking up the views).
Is the walk hard?
No. It’s an easy walk with a relatively good path (although it’s rough and uneven). Just make sure to dress appropriately, as the trail is very exposed.
Where does the cliff walk in Ardmore start and finish?
The trail starts and ends at the Cliff House Hotel. You can’t miss the start point – it’s just past the hotel. The trail is looped and easy to follow.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.