Circular walks to go loopy for.

Mayo is famous for its beautiful scenery, and the county’s loops walks allow us to take in breathtaking vistas while not having to double back on ourselves. Every turn brings something new, nothing is repeated. Here are five walks, all within striking distance of Westport.

The Westport House Loop is a beautiful 3.5k trail through Westport House estate. Walkers can start from any of three points – from the historic house itself, from the Hotel Westport Bridge entrance or from the estate’s Quay entrance. Whichever you choose, you will quickly find yourself immersed in a landscape that is both historic and beautiful.

The stunning parkland was by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, an acclaimed and hugely influential English landscape architect. Much of the 100 acres of magnificent broad-leaved woodlands was planted in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, while the 19th and early 20th centuries saw additional large-scale planting. The gardens and pathways have recently been tenderly and respectfully rejuvenated under landscape architect Oisín Griffin, and they are a joy.

The looped walk takes you through some of the most picturesque riverside, lakeside and woodland vistas. Have your cameras at the ready! There are also two routes to choose from – an easy walk on the flat, or a slightly more challenging through the woods.

INFO:

Westport House Loop

Starting Point: Westport House / Hotel Westport Bridge / Quay entrance

Total Distance: 3.5km

Estimated Time: 1hr

Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Trail Surface: flat walking path, some uneven surfaces


Walk from the bridge at the top of High Street in Westport Town to the Quay along the Westport Greenway, a beautiful tree-lined 2.5km straight-line walking and cycling trail, before looping back via Westport House and Westport town.

The surfaced railway route unfurls along a section of the old Midland Great Western Railway that was built in 1875 to join the town with the Quay. On reaching the coast, turn right and stroll along bustling Westport Quay, where you can stop for a coffee and a treat (you’ve earned it!), before setting back to town via Westport House Estate. Enter via the Quay entrance and follow the woodland trail to the house itself, before following the path along the estate lawn to the exit on the far side of the estate to Church Street.

From there it’s a short stroll along Bridge Street to the Clock, before going up (and up) High Street, back up to the bridge at the top where the walk began.

A railway greenway, a seaside stroll, a woodland trail and a bit of window shopping thrown in for good measure? This loop has it all!

INFO:

Old Railway Loop

Starting Point: Bridge at top High Street

Total Distance: approx 5km

Estimated Time: 2hr

Degree of Difficulty: Easy, but High Street is steep!

Trail Surface: flat walking path, some uneven woodland surfaces


Brackloon Woods, just 7km from Westport, is a magical remnant of Ireland’s once-substantial mixed Atlantic oak woodlands, and a firm favourite among local dog walkers and nature lovers.

Alongside the ancient oaks, you’ll find a host of other native beauties, including ash, willow, hazel, birch and holly, all offset by lush moss, pretty lichen and nodding ferns. Look out for the babbling Owenwee River at the northern end of the walk, where you can sit and let the calming sound of the water wash over your senses – or give the dog a bath by throwing fetch sticks into the rock pools.

This easy looped walk is around 3km long, and only will take you around 45 minutes. To get to the woods, drive south along the Leenane Road and take the right turn marked Owenwee Kennels. Keep right at the fork, and park at Brackloon primary school. Walk back along the orange bollards which will lead you to the main gate.


INFO:

Starting Point: Brackloon National School

Length (Km): 3
Estimated time: 1.5hr

Opened in 2015, the 5k Murrisk Loop is actually a combination of three walks – the Mountain Loop, Pier Loop and the Abbey Walk.

While Murrisk Car Park is probably best known as the starting point for the climb to the top of Croagh Patrick, it also the start of a loop walk that proves that the village and surrounding area have more to offer than the iconic mountain. The loop’s trail surfaces vary from open hillside to country lane to footpath, and the route offers spectacular views over Clew Bay.

History and archaeology buffs will find plenty of interest too, with the route passing along side a fulacht fiadh (Bronze Age cooking site), a Mass rock, bannrachs (enclosures of three stone walls once used for drying and storing turf), a stone fort and lazy beds (potato ridges). These lazy beds date from the great famine of the 1840s, and fittingly, the walk ends close to the National Famine Memorial – a poignant bronze sculpture by the artist John Behan. A coffinship’ with skeletons woven into the masts, it commemorates all those who perished on the voyages to America.

INFO

Waymarking: Red arrow on white background
Estimated time: 2hr 25min
Length (Km): 4.30
Climb (m): 114

Take a spin up to Achill and spend two to three hours hiking the Granuaile Loop. Starting Johnny Patten’s Public House, Derreens, this 6.8km trail passes along old bog roads and open moorland. After a brief initial climb, walkers join an old grassed-over road that was built in the early 1940s by local men who couldn’t go to England due to the threat from German U-boats.

The trail soon yields panoramic views of Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick and Clare Island, as well as many historical local features – including the deserted village of Ailt, empty since 1854, when the landlord William Pike had the last of 79 households evicted as it was more profitable to have cattle on his land. To the southwest lies Gráinne Mhaol’s 116th-century castle in Kildownet.

Other finds along the way include 40 large stone cairns – monuments of an ancient burial site on the old funeral path to Kildownet Cemetery, known locally as the ‘Leachtaí’.

INFO:

Waymarking: Green arrow on white background with Granuaile castle logo.
Start point: Pattens Pub

Length (Kms): 6.70
Climb (m): 334
Estimated time: 2hr 30m