Posts tagged with: 'Mulranny'

Corraun Peninsula – Between Island and Mainland

Corraun is kept attached to the Irish mainland by rocky boggy land to its east, barely 800 m wide. Off its western shore, meanwhile, a channel just 150 m wide holds Achill Island at bay.

The Corraun peninsula, 99% surrounded by water, may as well be an island in its own right. Indeed, with only a single road running around its waters’ edge, the inner Corraun can only be discovered on foot. Luckily, a hike is well worth the effort.

Corraun boasts two small mountains, Knockletragh (452 m) to the north and the more impressive Corraun Hill (541 m) to the south. If you are driving around Corraun along its southern shore, don’t let the harmless looking southern slopes of Corraun Hill fool you. This mountain has excellent cliffs and wonderful corries on its northern flank.

Corraun Mayo lakes

A glimpse of the lakes on Corraun

Although its raw, barren beauty has been somewhat lessened by plantation forests, the valley that lies between the two mountains remains a gem. A close inspection of the map reveals about 14 lakes of varying sizes, including the 3 lovely corrie Loughs Knockacorraun, Cullydoo and Cullylea.

I recently hiked Corraun from east to west, then cycled back along the northern road and parts of the Greenway. Note that the Greenway is not all off-road on the stretch from Mulranny towards Achill and I would not recommend this section for families with children.

Hiking Corraun Ireland

Looking towards Achill Island from Corraun

The hike requires a long 2 – 3 km stretch in from the road, across boggy terrain, before an ascent onto Corraun itself can be commenced. While there is no entirely satisfactory route to take, I would recommend one that goes roughly NE – SW, so that the views down towards Mulranny and Clew Bay beyond can be enjoyed.

The initial drag is worth it, though, as the views across Clew Bay are spectacular and those of the hidden valley to the north are very pleasant too. I descended towards Achill Sound, past Loughaun, the largest of the lakes, changed my footwear and cycled off back to my start point just outside Mulranny. A great day.

Corraun is ranked 14th among Mayo mountains.

Corraun Hike

Hike : 13.5 km; 4h45; ascent 700 m.

Cycle : 13.0 km; 0h45.

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I like Corrannabinnia very much. Let’s make that clear from the start.

At 714 m and the second highest point of the Nephin Beg range, Corrannabinnia is surely one of the highest peaks in Ireland not to be named in OSI Discovery series maps. Strangely, lower points on this mountain massif, such as Glennamong, Bengorm and Claggan Mountain are all named, while the high point goes unacknowledged. Part of the reason for that is perhaps that Corrannabinnia isn’t, in fact, its name at all.


Corrannabinnia (top left) in Winter

The true name of this very lovely mountain is Coiscéim Carrach, ‘The Rocky Step’, sometimes anglicised into Cushcamecarrach, or simply Cushcame. Indeed, this is a more apt name than the one more typically employed which, for its part, translates as ‘The Hollow of the Peak’. This should be limited to the lake which carries the name and lies beneath the mountain on its cold, damp northern side.

The Glendahurk Horseshoe, with Corrannabinnia as its climax, is a serious day’s hiking in west Mayo. I always complete it anti-clockwise, starting with the long trudge up the grassy (boggy) slopes of the outlier that is Bengorm. Once up there, there is another “down, up and down again” before tackling the pull to the rocky summit. Rocky summit, you say ? A rare treat in Mayo. The real delight, however, lurks beyond. Crossing the inviting arête between Corrannabinnia’s summit and its SW Top is perhaps Mayo’s finest hillwalking moment after Mweelrea’s numerous charms. With plantation-blanketed Glendahurk valley below on one side and the sheer drop to the awesome Owenduff Bog that makes up the bulk of Ballycroy National Park to the north, this is a fabulous stretch. The descent southwards off the SW Top beyond is gentle, through heather and turf hags.

Corrannabinnia Arête

Corrannabinnia Arête

At points along this loop, you can view the legendary Bangor Trail winding its way from the north, the surrounding mountains of the Nephin Beg range, Clare Island out to sea, or the peaks of Achill Island to the west.

This is a great walk that starts and ends 2.5 km up a track to the north of the Newport to Mulranny road. It only requires one car because the loop is a complete one, depositing you back exactly where you began. If you’re feeling energetic, leave your car at Newport and cycle to the start, along the Greenway. There is a fabulous variety of views offered, from over Lough Feeagh while ascending, to across the huge bog of the National Park while at the top, to across Clew Bay’s drumlin islands towards Croagh Patrick beyond while descending.

Corrannabinnia Hike (The Glendahurk Horseshoe)

14 km; total ascent 1,020 m; approx. 6 – 8 hours.

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Heritage Week 2013

Heritage Week 2013 runs from August 17th to 25th. I’d like to draw your attention to just two events that are happening here in Mayo.

Old Irish Goat Society (OIGS)

On Friday evening the 23rd, there will be a talk in Mulranny Park Hotel on the origin of Ireland’s Native Goat. This event relates to a transnational collaboration of several institutions across the UK and Ireland, including the Smurfit Genetic Institute in Trinity College, who have done ground-breaking work in the study of this animal.

The results of the study are fascinating, not only relating to the origins of the Irish Goat and the genetic heritage conservation value of those remaining, but also through insights into historic human migration. This latter facet lends even greater weight to the heritage value of the Old Irish Goat.

There will then be a guided walk on Saturday morning, the 24th, where people will get to see some of the Old Irish Goat’s defining features.

Learn more here : OIGS

Doon Peninsula

Saturday the 24th will also see a guided nature walk of Doon Peninsula at Lough Carra, led by Chris Huxley, ecologist. Chris’ knowledge of Lough Carra is profound and this talk promises to be both informative and educational.

Learn more here : Doon Walk 2013

There are, indeed, many more events happening throughout Mayo during Heritage Week 2013, including walks and talks on various subjects, such as archaeology and nature, from Ballycroy to Bangor Erris to Downpatrick Head and Westport. Here is the website for Heritage Week 2013, complete with events around the country. Do take a browse through the site and find one or two events for yourself and your family to enjoy. Get out and about, as the summer draws to a close.

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Ten Great Short Mayo Walks, Part Two

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!

Part One, with 5 places, is here. Now for the remaining five spots to go visit.

These are places you will not need hiking boots to reach and, while most are more or less by the road, all are within a short, flat walk of one.

6 Causeway at Mulranny
7  Newport River leaving Beltra Lough
8  Limestone Pavement at Clonbur Wood
9  Erris Head Look Out Post, Belmullet
10  Minaun, Achill Island

 6. Causeway at Mulranny

When the railway (now The Greenway cycle and walking track) came to Mulranny in the late 1890’s, a hotel (now The Mulranny Park Hotel) was built. Down from the hotel, and in order to reach the nearby beach in greater comfort, a causeway was built across the saltmarshes. Park your car or bike at the hotel, descend the steps across the road, walk the causeway, take in the beautiful views all around and suck in the sea air. Then return for a beverage in the hotel’s bar, overlooking Clew Bay (certainly one of the nicest views any Mayo bar can offer). Total walking time from car or bike, up to one hour (beware traffic when crossing the road).

I can’t seem to locate my picture of this, so will have to go take a new one and insert later !

7. Newport River leaving Beltra Lough

Mayo walks - Newport River

The Newport River

The most remote spot on my list is located in the middle of a Castlebar – Westport – Newport triangle in west Mayo, at the southern end of Beltra Lough, in the middle of nowhere. It’s a wonderful mix of native woodland, reed beds, river, lake and bog. This is inland Mayo at its wild best, with the beautiful mountains of Nephin Mór and Birreencorragh as backdrops to the north. Total walking time from car or bike, maybe 45 minutes (off-road).


8. Limestone Pavement at Clonbur Wood

Mayo walks - Clonbur Wood

Clonbur limestone pavement

Our ‘mini Burren’ is a beautiful area of exposed limestone, with dwarfed trees and prostrate shrubs eking out an existence in any tiny piece of soil they can find. A magical place of grykes and clints on the shores of Lough Mask. You’ll have to walk from the carpark at Clonbur village to reach this, but on forest tracks, runners will do fine. Total walking time, a good hour (off-road).

(psst, this is actually just inside Galway, but don’t tell anyone…)

9. Erris Head Look Out Post

Mayo walks - Erris Head

Erris Head

At the very tip of the wild and wonderful Mullet peninsula, out beyond Belmullet town in NW Mayo, lies Erris Head with its fantastic ocean views. Walk for 40 minutes from the carpark at Glenlara to reach an excellent example of Ireland’s World War II marine and coastguard service Look Out Posts that were dotted all along neutral Ireland’s coast. This is ocean coastline at its finest. Total walking time approx. 1.5 hours (off-road).

10. Minaun, Achill Island

Mayo Walks - Minaun Heights

Minaun Heights

If your car can handle it, drive on up towards the mast atop Minaun and look west, across Keel Strand and Keem Bay to the top of Croaghan beyond. This amazing view is one of the finest in Mayo. The winds are strong too. Stunning is too weak a word for it. Total time walking around in the wind, as long as you like (off-road).


I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and get out to some of these spots, whether rural or urban. Just relax, take it all in and experience Mayo walks.

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World Wetlands Day 2012

Thursday, February 2nd is World Wetlands Day. Check out its origins here.

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day poster

World Wetlands Day is about appreciating the vital role wetlands play in our ecosystems and protecting them. Here in Mayo, we are blessed with many wetland areas, from our blanket bogs, dotted with small lakes and bogpools, to our ‘great western lakes’, like Conn, Cullin, Carra and Mask, to our coastal sites, like Mulranny saltmarshes and the brackish lake of Furnace. Indeed, we have 3 Ramsar wetlands sites of international importance, in the Sheskin Knockmoyle Bog Complex, the Owenduff Bog Complex and the Blacksod & Broadhaven Bays area.

All Ramsar sites can be viewed in the database here.


World Wetlands Day

Reversal of bog drainage through dams

For long periods, Ireland drained its bogs in order to lower the water table and therefore dry out the peat for harvesting. In some places, this peat production has now ceased and efforts are being made to allow the bogs to refill with water and return to something approaching their natural state. The picture, left, of a blocked drain in north Mayo illustrates how this is being achieved.

On February 2nd, I will be out walking on the bogs to celebrate World Wetlands Day and I will share pictures here afterwards. Come and join me, if you like.

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Hill Walking in Mayo

Mayo is a great destination for moderate level hill walking in Ireland. With mountains to no more than 820 m, many with fabulous sea views, this place gives the walker fantastic panorama views of the wild West of Ireland coastline and its vast internal blanket bogs. We enjoy large areas of upland and bog, not spoiled by roads cutting through them. We have nice moderate mountain peaks, perfect for hill walking over 5 to 8-hour days.

Spots like Achill, Clew Bay and around Leenane boast some of the finest hill walking in Ireland. Lesser known high points like Corrannabinnia, Barrclashcame and Maumtrasna offer so much more than the overused Croagh Patrick. Standing on top of Croaghaun, boasting some of Europe’s highest cliffs, is a real treat not to be missed.

Down below, lovely West Mayo villages and small towns, like Newport, Mulranny, Westport and Belmullet will entertain you during the evenings. Not to forget Cong, the prettiest village in Ireland, standing beneath the mountains of South Mayo and North Galway.

So far this year the hill walking has been great. The severe lack of rain in the first several months of the year, following the incredible big freeze over the New Year period, has left the ground quite dry. Even the recent June rain has done little to make the upland bogs as wet as they normally would be.

I had a big group up The Bangor Trail last weekend and, while there was of course surface water, there was not the usual energy sapping trudge through the peat covered hills. This walk brings you to no more than 320 m altitude, a low level example of what is on offer.

Here is a selection of photos of hill walking in Mayo. Enjoy. If ou’d like to conme hill walking in Ireland, do get in touch and we’ll organise something for you and your group of walkers.

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