Posts tagged with: 'Croaghaun'

Achill Island Walking Weekend 2014

Join us for our Achill Island Walking Weekend, from October 3rd to 5th, 2014.

Our small group will be based at Keel village, from where we can discover the best of the island on foot, with no need for long transfers from our B&B. Our walking weekend will take us to Slievemore and Croaghaun mountains, the famous Deserted Village, a Napoleonic Tower and much more. We will enjoy the superb ocean views that this island offers the visitor. From Slievemore, we can look across lovely Blacksod Bay towards the Mullet Peninsula and the Iniskea Islands. From Croaghaun, boasting Ireland’s highest cliffs, we gaze out west into the vast Atlantic, or south towards Clare Island, Inisturk and Inisbofin beyond.

Achill Island Walking Weekend, Mayo, Ireland

Croaghaun mountain, Achill Island

This is tough hiking, with Slievemore at 671 m and Croaghaun at 688 m. The schedule is as follows :

Friday :

Arrive at Westport train station Friday evening. There’s no need to bring the car to Mayo. Jump on a train from Heuston at 12.45, relax and arrive in Westport at 15.55. Transfer to Achill for dinner and a gentle stroll on the wonderful Keel beach, just a short walk from our B&B.

Saturday :

We will hike Slievemore, taking in the famous Deserted Village and archaeological features of this northern part of the island (approx. 6 hours).

Sunday :

A superb hike up to Croaghaun and to its exquisite corrie lake. Our descent brings us past old booley (transhumance) houses to the iconic beach at Keem Bay (approx. 6 hours), before departing on the 17.45 train that gets in to Dublin at 21.10.

As always, accommodation on this Achill Island walking weekend is full board, with dinner in Keel and packed lunches for the walks. This is an ocean weekend, with views of the deep blue all around.

Achill Island Walking Weekend – Bookings

The cost of this weekend is Euro 250 per person sharing.
For single bookings, please add Euro 20 = Euro 270.
To book, please call 086 8318748, or email info [at]

To learn more about the island, visit Achill Tourism and Love Achill.

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Mayo Mountains – How Many are There ?

While Ireland’s mountains are modest on a European scale, Mayo mountains are modest even in the national context. They are, nonetheless, wonderful for one characteristic at least – the fabulous ocean or lake views they afford the hiker.

I once stood in the then Bord Fáilte office in Paris back in the 1980s and read a letter enquiring as to the very best mountains in Ireland for skiing ! It made me smile. Often, in continental Europe (and perhaps beyond), people imagine that our north-western outpost is much more mountainous than is the case.

Mayo is a county characterised by mountains, bogs and coast. But just how many Mayo mountains are there ?

Before answering that question, let’s have a look at some loose mountain-related terms. A ‘spur’ is a ridge projecting downward from a mountain towards lower ground, while a ‘ridge’ itself is a long, narrow raised land formation with (sometimes very steep) sloping sides. A ‘shoulder’ is an often quite rounded flank of a mountain, perhaps before it transforms into a downward-sloping spur.

With these unscientific terms in mind, we quickly see that there are many fewer mountains in Mayo (and, indeed, Ireland) than some people, websites and physical features’ names might suggest. You see, very often what are called mountains are really little more than high points on shoulders, ridges or spurs. They’re sometimes referred to as ‘peaks’ and there’s talk of ‘prominence’, though I’ve never been terribly comfortable with those terms either.

For example, it is clear to me that Mweelrea is one single mountain and that names attributed to sections of that mountain, such as Ben Lugmore and Ben Bury are really of no significance. This is one big mountain massif, where the summit is surrounded by ever-so-slightly lower ground that just happens to be big enough to have a few high points (‘peaks’) jotted around its obviously uneven top and slopes.

Mayo mountains, Birreencorragh

Birreencorragh, 698m

Birreencorragh is another example. To its S is the so-called Glenlara, to its W Mount Eagle while, to the E, Knockaffertagh occupies its spur. Yes, there are ‘cols’, or lower points, between the summit and these points, but since the mountains aren’t man-made, we can hardly expect them to descend in a straight line with equal gradient from top to bottom. Once again, this is clearly just one single mountain, with the usual few shoulders followed by spurs running down in various directions to lower ground.

So, just how many Mayo mountains are there then ? Well, in a land where the highest point is a mere 1,038 m and not one of the (supposed) top 20 Irish summits is in Connacht, here are the top heights in the Mayo mountains (400 m + summits). Mayo mountains are most often not rocky at the top, so while I’m at it, I’ve noted which are more or less boggy on top and which can claim some degree of rockiness.

Mayo Mountains

Mweelrea – 814 m – boggy – no. 16 on map

Nephin Mór – 806 m – boggy – no. 11

Barrclashcame (Sheeffrys) – 772 m – boggy – no. 15

Croagh Patrick – 764 m – rocky – no. 14

Slieve Carr – 721 m – boggy – no. 6

Corrannabinnia (Coiscéim Carrach) – 714 m – rocky – no. 8

Ben Gorm – 700 m – boggy – no. 17

Birreencorragh – 698 m – rocky – no. 10

Croaghaun – 688 m – rocky – no. 1

Maumtrasna – 682 m – boggy – no. 18

Slievemore – 661 m – boggy – no. 2

Nephin Beg – 627 m – boggy – no. 7

Buckoogh – 588 m – boggy – no. 9

Corraun Hill – 541 m – boggy – no. 5

Minaun – 466 m – boggy – no. 3

Knockmore (Clare Island) – 462 m – boggy – no. 13

Knockletragh (Corraun) – 452 m – boggy – no. 4

Croaghmoyle – 430 m – boggy – no. 12

That’s 18 mountains, 7 of which rise to 700 m or more. Each of these mountains is clearly demarcated by low ground, or sea, all around. Of these, 12 lie in roughly the Castlebar – Newport – Achill – Bangor Erris area, while the remaining 6 are to be found west or south of Westport, heading down towards Killary Harbour and Lough Mask. I consider just 4 to have something approaching mildly rocky tops. The rest, dear friends, are boggy on top. But I love them all.

Corrannabinnia, or Coiscéim Carrach to give the mountain its more correct name, remains one of my favourites. The ascent is up and down over several spot heights, giving a total positive climb of around 1,000m. There’s a proper rock strewn summit (a pretty rare feature in Mayo mountains, as they are more typically peat covered even at the top) and a nice arête between its main and SW tops. To the north of this very steep cliff lies the awesome Owenduff blanket bog. There’s the added bonus of a great view out across Clew Bay as you descend after a 6 to 8 hour mountain horseshoe hike. It’s great.

East and North Mayo cannot, unfortunately, claim any mountains of over 400 m altitude, although the latter does, of course, boast magnificent low hills offering splendid views out over the ocean. See my post on walking the North Mayo coastline.

Here’s a rough map of Mayo mountains – all 18 of them !


Mayo Mountains, hillwalking in Mayo

Mayo’s Mountains

So do come along and explore the Mayo mountains. You won’t bag any overly impressive heights, but you’ll enjoy day-long experiences and views you won’t forget for many a day.

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Hillwalking on Achill Island

Achill Island, off Mayo’s west coast, offers excellent hillwalking, with fantastic ocean views all around. First, however, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way, so we can concentrate on what is magnificent about Achill.

Hillwalking Achill Mayo Ireland


The island has suffered badly from the ‘Celtic Tiger’ period, with numerous hideous developments – both finished and unfinished – blighting its otherwise fabulous landscape. There are the incomprehensible holiday home parks on the slopes of both Slievemore and Croaghaun, with the latter taking the biscuit for inappropriateness. There is the black hole that was (apparently) to be a hotel in Keel village. Then there’s Achillhenge …

However, the hillwalking is truly wonderful.

From the top of Slievemore (671 m), you have superb views of the Mullet peninsula beyond, with the Iniskea and Duvillaun islands to its south and west. A long and rewarding walk westwards brings you past the Napoleonic tower and towards Annagh, one of the most extraordinary places in Ireland, with its lake perched perilously above the ocean, waiting to be one day consumed by the crashing waves.

Hillwalking on Slievemore can be combined with a visit to the famous deserted village below.

A loop walk to the summit of Croaghaun, with Ireland’s tallest cliffs at 688m, takes in both Acorrymore Lake and the stunning corrie lake that is Lough Bunnafreva West, with superb views out to Saddle Head beyond. This is really great hillwalking, where the slightly lower SW top of Croaghaun steals the show, thanks to its sheer smooth rock wall and views along the spine of Achill Head.

Hillwalking Ireland Mayo Achill

Looking towards Croaghaun SW Top, with Achill Head beyond.

Indeed, just hillwalking from Keem Bay out to Achill Head along the cliffs at Benmore and descending down into the valley with its abandoned booley houses, without ever reaching the dizzy heights of Croaghaun’s cliffs, is a rewarding hike in itself.

The lovely cliff-top walk from Minaun down towards Dooega, hidden away on the island’s south coast, can be combined with a vist to promontory forts further along this rock strewn part of the island’s shoreline. From the top, by the booster station, enjoy lovely views over Keel strand directly below and of Slievemore and Croaghaun in the distance.

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