I had wanted to visit Inishbofin during winter and so, last week, took the ferry out from Cleggan. As it was February, there were only 9 of us on board.
As the days are still short, I wasted no time. I threw my bag into The Beach B&B and headed straight for the northern side of the island, in order to complete an anti-clockwise loop that would bring me out towards Middlequarter before swinging towards Westquarter. Accuweather let me down (hardly a surprise in these parts and at this time of year), telling me Saturday would be reasonable and Sunday rainy. In fact, my first day was miserable enough, with very low cloud and drizzle all day, turning to heavier rain before I completed my circuit. Sunday, on the other hand, was beautiful, with clear blue skies above.
The walk brings us north from the village leaving tarmac roadways behind, then west, crossing the stone beach that separates Lough Bofin from the sea immediately beyond. The Celtic Tiger airstrip seems an unnecessary scar on the landscape. Further along, we reach the blow holes, before looking out onto the Stags of Bofin. It is between these and the return towards the village that the coastline is at its most impressive, with 30 m high cliffs, a promontory fort and the views across to Inishark. A lovely stretch.
This loop walk is 11 km long, virtually flat and took 5 hours to complete at a very leisurely pace.
On Sunday, I took the relatively short stroll eastwards, to reach St. Colman’s ruined 14th Century church and the beautiful beach looking out towards Mweelrea and Mayo. The highlight of the weekend was observing a Peregrine in pursuit of what looked like pigeons. He didn’t succeed.
With a 2011 census population of 160, Inishbofin is comparable with the Mayo island of Clare (168) in terms of residents. It would be well ahead of the island that lies between them, Inisturk, which boasts fewer than 60 islanders.
In summer, Inishbofin is an extremely lively spot, which unquestionably adds to its attraction for day-trippers. I would recommend staying the night.