Please sign in to post.

Help with making a decision on land tour for Skellig

We have booked a land tour on Skellig Michael for September. I am a little concerned about it now that I have read some of the blogs on it. Can someone that has done this hike give me some information on this tour. I have a fear of heights.

Posted by
942 posts

I did Skellig Michael in 2015. I was a little younger and fitter back then. Not sure I could do it again 8 years later. The steps are steep, narrow, with no handrail for most of the journey up. It was misty and wet when we were there so the edges were somewhat hidden from view. (I am also afraid of heights). It is quite stunning once you are up the top and it is worth it as long as you don't have mobility issues. It is not for the unfit.

The small boat that took us out there was quite the journey. We were soaked through and cold and wet even before arriving on the island. (This was even in July). My friends took waterproof pants to slip on which helped. There is no bathroom, so we kept liquids to a minimum and none of us had to "go" while we were there.

Posted by
490 posts

We were there in June of 2019 and had the almost opposite experience. I was 69 at the time, about 20 pounds overweight, one replaced knee, and three back surgeries which prevent me from any exercise beyond 2-3 miles of trail walking every day with the dog. My wife is a better walker, but as a birder and botanist, she walks fairly slowly.

The weather was clear and sunny and the boat ride was only a little rocky in moderate waves (we had, and I recommend, scopolamine patches). The stairs were uneven (each one is a different width or height) so you have to watch yourself. As advertised, there are 600 of them, and there's either rocks or a grassy slope to the sides. There aren't any shear cliffs to fall over although there are places where you could fall more than to the step below. My wife and I both steamed up, mainly to get away from the pack of slower folks. There are people going up and down at the same time (I think there are about 120 people total, spread over a few hours). The boats arrive on a strict schedule, so the people start out in clumps, quickly sorting by ability.

After a few minutes at the beehives, we headed back down, stopping many times to be entertained by the puffins, who were nesting in the grassy slopes. They would almost walk up to you.

Although the beehives were impressive and there was a ranger to answer questions, the puffins were the highlight of the visit. They'll be gone in September, so we might not have made the trip Every time we see a puffin, we compare it to Skellig (and Skellig wins).

It's not a tour. It's "be back on the dock in 2 hours" and you're on your own. There was a ranger at the bottom of the stairs and another at the beehives. There is a bathroom at the bottom if you ask the ranger nicely, since it's their private bathroom.

Sorry for too much info and not really helping you decide...

Posted by
490 posts

Two more things to add:

1) Not being a "tour", you can walk at your own pace. We saw a few people that turned back before the top, but they didn't look like they should have tried. The ranger at the bottom does a "safety lecture" where she'll make recommendations given your state of health.

2) There are a lot of photos on Google Maps that include some good shots of the walkway.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you both so much for your insight. I am still unsure what I will do. But I have a better understanding of the challenges.

Posted by
3 posts

My husband and I did the Skellig landing tour in Sept. 2022. We are 65 and 66. We both used Nordic walking sticks. Because of the weather only 1/2 (6) of the boats were able to land. It was incredible foggy. It is not an easy hike up, but we stopped often. Walking around the beehive huts was amazing. I am scared to death of hights, but the fog helped because I couldn't see beyond the steps. We made it back down, but if it had been a beautiful sunny day, I probably would have had to come down on my bottom.
Good luck whatever you decide to do.

Posted by
33 posts

There are lots of YouTube videos showing what the hike up looks like, and might give you the best idea of whether your fear of heights will be problematic.

This is one of the ones showing the actual trail the most:

Weather will be a crapshoot (we went in 2018 and had beautiful sunny skies - the first day boats had been able to 'land' for a week or so due to rough seas). Boat conditions also vary, depending on which one you are on. We were on the Skellig Walker and it was quite nice.