Keenagh

Posts tagged with: 'Keenagh'

Keenagh Loop Walk in the Bogs of West Mayo

Keenagh Loop Walk

If you’re looking for a walk that represents west Mayo well, without the extra effort of climbing a mountain, then Keenagh Loop Walk may fit the bill. Be sure to bring along at least one walking pole to test the ground’s solidity in front of you as you go, as some sections can be extremely wet.

The trailhead for Keenagh Loop Walk is located on the left hand side along the R312 from Castlebar towards Bellacorick, approximately 7km after the left turn to Newport (R317) and immediately before the right turn for Crossmolina (R316), at grid ref G 067 067.

By no means the most spectacular location the county has to offer, nevertheless this loop walk brings you into (or, more accurately, beneath) Mayo’s Nephin Beg mountain range, with the added attraction of a very pretty mountain river along one section.

To begin, I’d suggest you walk the route in an anti-clockwise direction rather than that which the signage and Mayo County Council’s mayowalks.ie website invite you to. In this way, you get the bit of a pull up to the highpoint of 250m over and done with early on. This is also the least inspiring section of the loop, apart from the wonderful display of wildflowers along the laneway during the summer months. Enjoy Purple Loosestrife, St. John’s Wort, Selfheal, Dandelion, Herb Robert and more.

Keenagh Loop Walk heather, bracken and rowan tree

Once up and over the highpoint, we descend to the very lovely Glendorragha River and begin to admire the excellent Birreencorragh Mountain to the right, which has now come into view beyond the scree-covered southwestern face of its satellite, Knockaffertagh. At the head of the valley, this is one of Mayo’s finest mountains to climb, so you can come back another day and tackle that.

But the main attraction of the Keenagh Loop Walk is the stretch along the banks of the river. Descending the valley from our right, the little river tumbles down various small waterfalls and over boulders in its journey as a tributary to the Newport River. Watch a Dipper, as it follows the river downstream, jumping from rock to rock, with its feet in the water, before diving under the surface in search of insect larvae. He’s very amusing, sometimes even choosing to float along awhile.

Keenagh Loop Walk oak tree

There are also Otter, Pine Martin and Heron around these parts, along with the occasional Goat among the Sheep. And guess what? There are even some Oak trees along the banks, a rare sight indeed around west Mayo.

Leaving the river bank, we cross the wettest of the numerous boggy stretches on this walk, before meeting an seanbhóthar from Derreen to Newport, where we turn left for home. On arrival, your feet might be wet, but you’ll have enjoyed this hidden corner of wild Mayo.

Keenagh Loop Walk

12 km; 4.5 hours; climb 150m; watch out for very boggy parts.

As you should everywhere you encounter it, do avoid walking through the bracken on the higher sections. It might just contain ticks that you really don’t want on your body. It’s better to leave the track when you see large swathes of the plant and find your own way around.

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Thank you very much, Walshes

We had absolutely beautiful weather as we completed The Bangor Trail on Friday last. Even though we were in the dying days of winter, I had never experienced the trail in such a dry condition, not even in summer. I guess that’s not really surprising, as we’ve had very little rain this winter.

We took 9 h 45 min to complete the 26 km trail, which included a diversion up to the Scardaun Loughs for lunch. We had no rain at all.

Quite the opposite on Saturday, however. Having only one car, our small team had to cycle back from Bangor to Letterkeen to pick up mine, a distance of around 32 km. It didn’t stop raining for one minute. Leaving Bangor, we had the wind and rain to our backs. That was okay, but I realised what lay ahead. Having turned at Bellacorick, we had it hitting us from our  right hand side, sweeping in and down over Slieve Carr and Nephin Beg, nearly knocking us into the ditch. The real problems, however, arose when we turned at Keenagh. Now it was straight in our faces. Now we started to feel the 2 h 20 min already in our legs, piled on top of the long hike the day before. Not to mention the fact that J didn’t really have waterproof boots …

With the very hilly section ahead and our willpower waning, J asked for assistance, with 7.5 km of serious ups and downs still to go. Mr. Walsh agreed to give me a spin up to the bothy, where I could collect the car, drive back, pick up the others and head for Castlebar. We were very grateful.

At the bothy, I met some acquaintances who had failed to get beyond the third stream to be crossed on the Trail, such was the amount of water that had fallen since the previous day.

On my return to the Walsh household, I found the lads in the kitchen, pulled up to the table and eating soup and bread served up by the lady of the house, to these unannounced total strangers. I was invited in and shared of their generous hospitality. Later, in the car on the way back to Castlebar, I noticed J was wearing jeans. Mrs. Walsh had invited them to use the bathroom to change their clothes. Genuine West of Ireland people. Thank you very much.

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