North Mayo Cliffs : Hiking with Ravens and Choughs

North Mayo Cliffs with Ravens and Choughs

Walking the spectacular North Mayo cliffs is an exhilarating but tough 2-day hike. From the tiny village of Belderg, heading west, this is an area you will have all to yourself. Apart, that is, from the entertaining Ravens and Choughs.

The cliffs around here are just extraordinary. These are not the sloping cliffs of certain parts of the west coast of Ireland, but sheer vertiginous drops into the wild Atlantic foam below. The beginning of the walk, westward from Belderg over Glinsk, reveals stunning little coves far below, hidden in inaccessible nooks of the seemingly never-ending cliffs. This majestic first section is without question the highlight of the entire 36km hike. Take a detour to see the remains of Glinsk’s Napoleonic Tower, from the early 19th Century.

North Mayo Cliffs

Hidden beach beneath the North Mayo cliffs

Far from being a flat hike, the 20 km from just outside Belderg to Portacloy requires a staggering 2700m climbing, as you wander up and down the various hills. While these hills slope gently away into the North Mayo blanket bogs to the south, to the north they have been eroded away by millennia of unrelenting North Atlantic waves smashing into them. In places, the cliffs plunge 270m, then 230m, then 210m into the ocean, with plenty of ups and downs in between. By the time you’re done, you’ll have felt it in your legs.

In comparison to the first stretch into Porturlin, the middle section onwards to Portacloy is less enthralling, though still utterly beautiful. Enjoy the views out toward the schist rocks of the Stags of Broadhaven and southward, across the vast bogs, towards the Nephin Beg Mountains. Dancing and playing Ravens and Choughs will keep you amused, as they play ‘hide and seek’ with each other over the wild bogs. The honks of the former, yelps of the latter and the crashing waves below are the only soundtrack to this wonderful walk.

North Mayo Cliffs cove

The sun struggles to reach the north-facing coves

Note that the only accommodation along this North Mayo cliffs route is here, at Stag View B&B. Note also that if this one-day A to B route is preferred to the two-day marathon, then an enjoyable 19-km cycle back to Belderg is easily achieved, with virtually no traffic to contend with on narrow tarmac tracks that meander between the conifer plantations slightly inland from the coast.

Leaving Portacloy westwards towards Benwee Head (250 m cliffs) and on to Rinroe Point and Carrowteige (An Ceathrú Thaidhg), the terrain regains some of the magnificence of the earlier part of day one. This hike is rounded off by beautiful views across Broadhaven Bay towards Erris Head. Again, if you’ve left a bicycle at Carrowteige, enjoy the cycle back to Belderg. You’ll have it done in 1.5 hours or less.

To view a video of this hike, please visit YouTube.

North Mayo Cliffs : Belderg to Portacloy

20 km; 8 hrs; total ascent 2700 m.

North Mayo Cliffs : Portacloy to Carrowteige

16 km; 6 hrs; total ascent 700 m.

Posted in Blog, Walking in the West of Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to North Mayo Cliffs with Ravens and Choughs

  • Malcolm McPherson said on February 24, 2015 at 15:24:

    Hi Barry,
    I enjoyed your write up about the North Mayo coast. I totally agree with you that this stretch of coast is a truly spectacular & special place. Being a very keen landscape photographer for many years I have also walked & photographed this coast and it never fails to impress me. Surely this coast should have a way marked walking trail to link up with Portacloy/Carrowteige and be marketed as part of Mayos Wild Atlantic Way. This would definitely be of benefit to the areas B&Bs,shops etc.
    Whilst I would hate to see the place overran with people a walking trail would be immeasurably preferable to the threat that now looms over Glinsk and the surrounding area. I’m sure you are aware that a company wishes to flatten the top of Glinsk and dig a huge reservoir into the hill along with various buildings and equipment. This pump storage power generation plant will need power from wind turbines and the area could end up being irreparably damaged & visually devastated by this industry,destroying its very character. If this industry is allowed go ahead in such a sensitive area, I believe it would be a terrible decision and truly show how little value this Country bestows on its wild places. Everyone who loves our landscape needs to stand against such destruction.
    Being involved in tourism myself, I know how important our beautiful landscape is. It’s what most people love about the West of Ireland, why they come here. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on these growing threats to our remaining wild places.

    • Barry Murphy said on March 4, 2015 at 11:59:

      Apologies for the delay in replying, Malcolm, but our broadband was down for quite a while.
      I agree wholeheartedly with you about this spectacular coastline, from Belderg all the way westwards to Carrowteige. It’s breath-taking.
      I’m aware of the plan for Glinsk, although haven’t heard anything more about it for the last few years. It would be a tragedy, certainly.
      On the wider theme of Ireland’s respect for our natural environment, don’t get me started ….
      Thanks for your comment and all the best with Killala Sea Trout Angling.

  • Pingback: Discover the Beauty of the Coastline of County Mayo, Ireland - Tourism Pure Walking Holidays, Ireland

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