The Bangor Trail sinews its way from Bangor Erris in the north to Newport in the south, running for some 26 km* through the relentless Atlantic blanket bog of north Mayo.
Winter on Ireland’s most remote, tranquil and wet walking route is a great treat. Why ? Because you’re not in charge. Nowadays, the human is in charge of almost everything. He controls the environment to a worrying degree, if you think about it. Not out here, not in winter, not anytime.
The Bangor Trail is Ireland’s outstanding ancient trail. For centuries, the Trail was used by drovers bringing their animals from the wilds of north Mayo down to the coastal market town of Newport. This is extremely remote country – you won’t see a house or soul. In winter, the crazy weather adds hugely to the experience. Here, you’ll find yourself very much out of your comfort zone.
This is rarely visited bog and mountain terrain. It’s a maze of tiny streams that find their way down from Glennamong, Nephin Beg and Slieve Carr to the wet Owenduff bog below – Ireland’s largest intact Atlantic blanket bog system. Half the time, we are walking in water. The other half, we are between rocks laid down centuries ago to make a semblance of a path and pure, unadulterated peat bog ! Very special.
What’s great about the Bangor Trail is its isolation, but also the fact that, at the time it was ‘built’, those involved had an inherent sense of practicality. It wasn’t future adventure-seeking hikers they were concerned with. No, the track was laid down for the very real-world reason of getting animals to market. They laid it down not too high up the hillsides, to avoid unnecessary climbing, but not too low, to avoid sinking into the tremendous bog.
What would you need ? A very good level of fitness, great stamina, very good waterproof hiking boots, waterproof clothing, gaitors, courage, lots of food, a camera, lots of water, map, compass, head torch, etc. And a sense of humour. This is the outdoors at its best – wild and wonderful.
* The 26 km indicated is from Bangor Erris as far as the Brogan Carroll Bothy at Letterkeen Wood. Much of the remaining way to Newport is on tarmac, so not terribly attractive to walk.
The Bangor Trail 2012 Update (with Lenny Antonelli, journalist)
A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of accompanying freelance journalist Lenny Antonelli on The Bangor Trail. We had beautiful weather for our hike, especially considering it was the middle of winter. Reproduced below is Lenny’s lovely article from the Irish Times.
Discover Lenny Antonelli’s website.
The Bangor Trail Hike
27 km, allowing for a 500m (each way) diversion to view the Scardaun Loughs; total ascent 815 m; allow 10-11 hours.
Discovering The Bangor Trail (high point 246 m) is finding a part of Ireland that you thought no longer existed. Set in the remote Nephin Beg mountain range of west Mayo, this is a place where you’re unlikely to encounter anybody else. From the Brogan Carroll Bothy to Bangor Erris village, the Trail meanders through blanket bog and mountain scenery.
This is a strenuous day out in demanding wet bog – not for the faint-hearted!