Connemara, situated at the very edge of Europe, on the west coast of Ireland, is one of the most beautiful, unspoilt places it is possible to find. This natural terrain and unspoilt environment offers the visitor a wonderland of sights, experiences, adventure and activities. The people are warm, friendly and extend a hospitality which is the essence of Ireland. This natural terrain and unspoilt environment offers the visitor a wonderland of sights, experiences, adventure and activities. The people are warm, friendly and extend a hospitality which is the essence of Ireland.
♦ The Maamturks old hills
♦ Connemara National Park and the Twelve Bens
♦ Galway & Westport - end the tour in historical colour, craft and local flavours
Day 1. Arrival to Oughterard
Arrival in Galway. Local bus transfer (own cost) to Oughterard on the Owenariff River, the gateway to the hills. It was the country of the O’Flaherty clan, feared throughout the land and eventually reduced to obedience in the reign of Elizabeth 1. The ruins of their castle at Aughanure are just outside the village. Lough Corrib is the second largest lake in Ireland after Lough Neagh, near Belfast. The dawn chorus is particularly spectacular for Springtime early risers! Overnight in Oughterard townland by Lough Corrib
Day 2. Oughterard to Maam
From the shores of Lough Corrib, follow the Way through pine forest, climbing gently through the valleys of the Owenroe and Folore Rivers into a magnificent wilderness of mountain and bog to reach civilisation again at the village of Maam Bridge. Accommodation tonight is in a farm guesthouse at Maam.
Hiking time: 5 hours, uphill.90m, appr. 14 km.
Day 3. Maam to Lough Inagh Valley
The farming countryside of Maam climbs steadily through rugged hill country along the old mountain road, to the low pass of Mam Ean and a lovely hillside chapel of St. Patrick. An alternative route takes you high into the Maamturks on a demanding climb to 700m rewarded with fantastic views to the Atlantic and Galway Bay.
Hiking time: 5 hours, uphill.220m, appr. 15 km.
Alternative Route via Binn Chaorigh 15km Ascents 770m, approx. walking time 7 hours
Day 4. Free day with optional walks from Lough Inagh
If you missed the Maumturks yesterday it is possible to do a route today behind your guesthouse on Letterbreckaun at 667m. The Twelve Bens are across Lough Inagh with many wonderful routes available. The Connemara National Park and Visitor Centre is also within striking distance as are Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian Walled Gardens. Your hosts can assist you with transfers to your chosen route.
Optional walk: 21km. Ascents 650m, approx. hiking time 6 hours
Day 5. Lough Inagh to Leenane
A mild day today, lots of pine forest and wet ground through the bogland of Luggagtarriff and Lettershanbally. The Way climbs briefly to Glencraff before skirting the northern flanks of the Maumturks to view Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord. The day finishes in the village of Leenane, An Lionan, "the tide filling place"! a lovely hamlet nestling under the impressive Mweelrea Mountains of Co. Mayo.
Hiking time approx. 5 hours, 14km, upphill 70m.
Day 6. Leenane to Drummin
Entering Co. Mayo today the Way rises through forest over Tawnyard Lough descending to Sheefry Bridge over the Owenmore River in the Sheefry Hills. The longer route climbs a deep stream ravine crossing at 480m to see the first glimpse of the quartzite cone of Croagh Patrick. The glaciated coum Lough Lugacolliwee is a peaceful place in the midst of such mountain splendour. Evening meals are available in your guesthouse tonight.
Hiking time: 4 hours, uphill. 80m, appr. 12 km.
Alternative route via Lough Lugacolliwee hiking time: 7 hours, uphill. 430m, appr. 23 km.
Day 7. Drummin to Westport
The route takes you to the south of Croagh Patrick, sheep grazing country, rising to open moorland, before crossing a pass at 250m to see island studded Clew Bay. The Way descends through the remains of a Famine village, then wanders through drumlins, glacial mounds deposited in the flatland surrounding Westport town. The town was the creation of James Wyatt and although classically planned, remains picturesque. Explore at will! Overnight in Westport town.
Hiking time: 6 hours, uphill. 230m, appr. 24 km.
Day 8. Departure from Westport
Depart Westport by train for Dublin or by bus to Galway and Shannon.
How to get there:
If you are flying to Dublin, you can get a bus from Dublin Airport to Galway (app. 3 hours) and then another bus from Galway to Oughterard (app. 1 hour). You can check the bus timetables and book tickets online here.
Practical information: ►The total walk is 84 km. Approximately 25% of the route is on minor and tarred roads. You will enjoy this trip if you are physically fit and like to hike. The hikes each day will vary from 14-24 km and cross some rough, wet and rocky terrain. ►You will be staying in comfortable guesthouses and farmhouses. Most rooms have en suite facilities. You can enjoy evening meals in the guesthouses in some locations, but the hostess needs to be notified beforehand. Evening meals are usually priced between €18-25.00 per person. Picnic lunches can be supplied at a cost of €6.00-8.00p.p. ►There are no banks on your route. Please make sure you carry enough cash with you when you start the walking tour.