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Ten Great Short Mayo Walks, Part One

I want to share with you 10 beautiful, but short, Mayo walks. These are places to go for a short, easy stroll and admire the surroundings. Bring the kids. I’ve chosen 10 places that you can easily reach in your car or, preferably, on your bike. No need for hiking boots to get to any of these spots, each of which is wonderfully representative of Mayo!

These are places where you can just wander around for a while at your leisure and take in the atmosphere and scenery. You might call it ‘meditate’ or ‘reflect’ on what is happening around you. Learn what Mayo is all about. Let me know what you think and where you feel should have been included in my list.

Here are the first five Mayo walks (in no particular order). Find the five remaining strolls here.

1 McMahon Park / Clare Lake, Claremorris
2 The Mall and Bridge Street, Westport
3 Céide Fields and Cliffs opposite, Ballycastle
4 Moore Hall, Carnacon
5 Belleek Wood, Ballina

 1. McMahon Park / Clare Lake, Claremorris

Mayo walks

McMahon Park, Claremorris

One of the nicest town parks in Mayo, the people of Claremorris are rightly proud of this wonderful space. The park is centred around Clare Lake and has beautiful walks, with cute little bridges over streams and fantastic flora, from native trees to lakeside reedbeds. Children and adults alike will enjoy the ducks and swans that have made the lake their home. As an added bonus, there’s a good children’s playground just outside. One gripe, however : The entrance to the park is not great and the playground really should be incorporated into the same space. Total walking time from car or bike, maybe 60 minutes (off-road).

 

 2. The Mall & Bridge Street, Westport

Mayo walks

Westport

Nowhere in Mayo is more lively than the main street (Bridge Street) in Westport, especially during the busy summer months. No street is prettier than The Mall, with the river flowing through its twin tree-lined avenues. Park your car or bike in any of the off-street carparks in town. Then go stand on the bridge for a while, take it all in and walk the lap of the Mall around the river, followed by the loop of Bridge St, Shop St and James St, before returning to the Mall. Then go find the craic in one of the many pubs on Bridge Street or James Street. Total walking time from car or bike, maybe 30 minutes (beware town traffic).

 

 3. Céide Fields and Cliffs, Ballycastle

Mayo walks

Cliffs at Ballycastle

The Céide Fields are the world’s oldest known farm system, at approx 6,000 years old. Here, stone walls encompassing a very large area have been discovered, lying intact beneath thousands of years of blanket bog. Straight across from the wonderful visitor centre and its carpark is a viewing platform out over the North Mayo cliffs. Stand here for a while, watch the seabirds and it will remain with you for the rest of your life. Indeed, go visit nearby Downpatrick Head, on the other side of Ballycastle afterwards. Total walking time from car or bike, including visiting Céide Fields, maybe 60 minutes (beware traffic on the road when going to view the cliffs).

  4. Moore Hall, Carnacon

Mayo walks

Moore Hall forest trail

In the county where the fight began, back in the 1870s, for the right to own the land one farmed, there are now almost no ‘big houses’ (landlord mansions) left standing. Moore Hall, though now a ruined shell, remains. Walk around here and think of the Irish National Land League, the campaign for land ownership for the tenant classes of the 19th Century and, ultimately, the struggle for Irish freedom. Better still, walk here at dusk during warm summer days and watch the Lesser Horseshoe Bats flying all around you. There is a fine carpark on the shores of Lough Carra, beyond Carnacon village. Total walking time from car or bike, over 60 minutes (off-road).

  5. Belleek Woods, Ballina

Mayo walks

Belleek Wood, Ballina

Belleek is the finest urban wooded area in Mayo. Situated on the northern side of Ballina town, the wood straddles the banks of the river Moy. It is a beautiful place, with lovely walks and river views. It is home to one of Mayo’s very few Red Squirrel populations and is a haven for the people of the north Mayo town. Park up your car and just lose yourself in here for a good hour. Total walking time from car or bike, over 60 minutes (off-road).

 

The second half of this Mayo walks list is presented in my next post here.

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Six Places to Walk in Mayo

Here is a selection of lovely places to go for a walk in County Mayo. 

The walks vary from hillwalking to ca. 800 m, down to on-road and some are more suited to bringing children than others. 

1. Sheefry Hills (SW Mayo) : 

Straight south from Croagh Patrick and northeast of the famous little village of Leenane lie the Sheefry Hills, culminating in Barrclashcame at 772 m. Wet and cold at this time of the year, but if you’re looking for a reasonably serious walk, go here. There are great views and you’ll know you’re out in the wilds, by the wind and frequent rain. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a view of Mweelrea to the west, Doo Lough below it and the Killary fjord to the south. 

Be sure to bring a proper map with you – Ordnance Survey sheet no. 37. Preferably, do not go alone. Count on 5 hours to do the loop, so leave it til springtime. 

2. Brackloon Wood (near Westport) : 

If climbing the Sheefrys isn’t your thing, then go for a gentle stroll in Brackloon, ca. 4 km south of Westport town. Turn right off the Leenane road where the sign says Drummin. There is a nice loop walk in this mixed oak wood, that will take you 1 hour (more if you have children with you). The mixed trees are attractive and there are some benches where you can take a rest, just breathe in the air and listen to the birds. 

3. Balla Wood (SE of Castlebar) : 

This is another good walk for families. It traverses mainly beech wood and there is a good loop walk that will bring you through part of the wood, past the golf course and back. If entering Balla from Castlebar, take the road to Mayo Abbey at the top of the village and turn right, when still in the village, signposted GAA pitch and golf course. Park your car where there is attractive wooden fencing on your left. The nice easy walk also has a lovely meadow in the middle of the wood, where your kids will like to play ‘hide and seek’ in the long grass during summer. 

4. Nephin Mór (Lahardane) : 

Nephin Mountain (806 m).

Nephin Mountain (806 m).

Back to the mountains. This climb will take between 3 and 4 hours up and down. Get to Lahardane, turn left just before you leave the village in the direction of Crossmolina, drive for ca. 2 km and you’ll see a rough carpark on your right. Park up there and take the forest track on the other side of the road. Keep to the left of the second forest and the wonderful corrie to reach the summit trig pillar. 

As with any mountain, be sure to bring a proper map with you – Ordnance Survey sheet no. 23. Preferably, do not go alone. 

5. Corraun (W Mayo, before Achill) : 

For this on-road walk, turn left just after Mulranny village, down to where you’ll see the church, then continue out towards the sea. Most people will always head to either Achill or Ballycroy from Mulranny, but you will turn to the southern side of Corraun peninsula. Park wherever you can and just walk the little road as far as you like. There are wonderful views of Clew Bay and Clare Island, as well as out to the open ocean. 

6. Downpatrick Head (N Mayo) : 

Coming from Ballina, turn right before Ballycastle village and head out to the Head. See the amazing blow holes and the extraordinary Dún Briste sea stack. Walk along the cliff tops, but be careful not to get too close. Strong gusts can come at any moment. Do not bring children up here. This is the North Atlantic. 

Afterwards, if you like, return to Ballycastle and continue westward along the road and visit the Céide Fields just beyond, or look out over the cliffs from the excellent viewing stand opposite the car park for the Fields.

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