Glinsk and Tawnaghmore Mountains in North Mayo

Glinsk – Walking the North Mayo Coastline

Glinsk on the North Mayo Coastline

Walking the little hill of Glinsk in North Mayo is fabulous. This is, after all, one of the least populated parts of Ireland. Sure, there are settlements, like the large town of Ballina and several smaller towns and villages, such as Crossmolina, Belmullet, Ballycastle and Bangor Erris. But across large swathes of this boggy land, the only clearly visible living things are the countless plantation conifers that blanket the landscape.

Up on the stunning coastline, northwest of Belderg and northeast of Glenamoy, the four humps of Glinsk, Tawnaghbeg, Tawnaghmore and Geevraun raise their heads above the surrounding bog. But only just.

Glinsk in North Mayo

l to r : Tawnaghmore, Tawnaghbeg, Glinsk, Geevraun

Glinsk lies a little north of the Tawnaghs, hugging the sea. With 270m cliffs falling away, most impressively to its northeast, this little 304m mountain is deserving of a good day’s walking. The twin Tawnaghs, slightly to the south, can be added to make the walk longer.

I approached from Belderg, parking along the track that meanders through the bog and plantation forests between the hills. I headed south over Tawnaghbeg (303m) to Tawnaghmore (the highest of the three, at 340m), before descending to its west. Walking north to Glinsk and down its westward side before returning from west to east along the clifftop track to the car, I had a pleasant day’s hike in the shape of an 8.

The ruined Napoleonic Tower on Glinsk adds a bit of history to the walk. Unfortunately, there’s not much left of it now – barely one wall to 2 metres high. These towers were constructed by the British authorities in the early years of the 19th Century, as look-outs, when they were in fear of another French expeditionary force landing to assist Irish rebellion efforts, as had happened at nearby Killalla during 1798.

This was a strangely situated tower as it was built, not on the ocean-facing northern side of Glinsk’s summit, but on the southern side, below the top of the little plateau. Its view must have been somewhat hindered, limited to looking eastwards towards Downpatrick Head and a bit of the coast line westwards. Straight ahead, to the north, may have been a blind spot.

Glinsk mountain, North Mayo

North Mayo coastline. The pale patch on Glinsk (middle right) marks the remains of the Napoleonic Tower.

Another piece of local history concerns the mining of copper from a ‘vein’ on the vertiginous north cliffs of Glinsk, during the second half of the 19th Century. A vein of metal ore in the earth is known as a ‘lode’.

Needless to say, the views from Glinsk both eastwards and westwards along the north Mayo coastline are splendid. This is a savage coastline, with superb cliffs, islands, rocks, coves and inlets. At numerous points along, the cliffs fall vertically from heights of over 200m, straight down into the foam below.

Glinsk Hike

12 km; 5 hours; total ascent 800m.

North Mayo

North Mayo is a road less travelled and a hill less hiked. It is a vast area of bog and coastline, roughly north and west of Mulranny, Newport, Castlebar and Ballina. Take some time out walking and discover this wild part of the West of Ireland. The rewards are well worth the extra kilometres to get here.

To learn more about what you can do in North Mayo, visit this community website.

Posted in Blog, Walking in the West of Ireland | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Glinsk – Walking the North Mayo Coastline

  • Joe O'C said on December 19, 2012 at 13:00:

    Hi Barry,
    I love the north Mayo coast, especially up around Belmullet. Where is Belderg ?

    • Barry Murphy said on December 19, 2012 at 13:59:

      Hi Joe,
      Belderg is west of Ballycastle and east of Belmullet, along the north Mayo Coastal road. Lovely country. Regards, Barry.

  • Phil Rogister said on February 10, 2013 at 11:55:

    I was on holiday walking in Mayo in October 2012. The boggy landscape and remoteness is quite unique I think. I went up Tawnaghmore from the east side starting from Belderg Beg. There is a very rough rocky path (impassible on the day so I had to walk on through the heather) leading to the saddle between the Tawnaghs where a nasty fence disects the hills. I followed said fence steep uphill SW to the trig.
    I will try Glinsk another holiday – no obvious path, can you walk straight up to the tower or via the forest edge to the west?
    Regards, Phil

    • Barry Murphy said on February 14, 2013 at 20:02:

      Hi Phil,
      The recent addition of the fence between the two Tawnaghs is unfortunate alright.
      Glinsk can easily be accessed from the little road / track that skirts to its south from Belderg and along towards Porturlin. The remains of the Napoleonic Tower can be reached directly from this roadway. From the Tower, you can continue northwards towards the cliffs themselves, although again there is a fence to be crossed. Lovely country, very wild. See my short video here :
      regards, Barry

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