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Guided Walking Holidays in Mayo & Connemara, Ireland

 

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Posts tagged with: 'Sheefry'

Sheeffry Hills – A South Mayo Hillwalking Treat

The Sheeffry Hills may not come to mind when planning a day’s hillwalking in the West of Ireland. Yet they should certainly be considered.

With their high point of 772 m at Barrclashcame towards the western end of the plateau, the Sheeffrys offer a very pleasant day’s hiking that is not terribly strenuous, yet reaches a very respectable altitude. Mayo’s third highest mountain (see my post on Mayo’s highest mountains) and higher than any point in Galway, Barrclashcame should not be ignored.

Sheeffry Hills, Mayo

Ascending the Sheeffrys

What is nice about the Sheeffrys for the walker is that, once the initial pull has been managed – which is up the grassy south-facing slopes – the top is a plateau offering fantastic views in all directions. On several occasions, I have been able to see all the way around from Donegal’s coast to that of Clare, with the distinctive abrupt end of Ben Bulben in between. The Nephin Begs, Corraun, Clare and Achill Islands dominate to the north, with great views of Croagh Patrick and the outer Clew Bay (you cannot see any of the inner “365” islands, hidden behind the bulk of the “holy mountain”).

Standing at the western end of the plateau, where the descent is best left untried, you won’t forget the views down to Doo, Fin and Glencullin Loughs, or across those bodies of water to Mweelrea beyond. At various stages along the walk, cast your eyes to the south and enjoy Tawnyard Lough, Maumtrasna, Devilsmother, Ben Gorm, The Killary, the Maumturks and the Twelve Bens. Truly, the views from the Sheeffry Mountains are among the very best anywhere in Ireland. Spectacular scenery.

Sheeffry Hills - Lough Brawn

Lough Brawn, Sheeffry Hills

The range can be accessed via its grassy slopes to the south, while excellent corries encompassed by nice scree-strewn cliffs on its northern side are somewhat less welcoming. Walking east to west along the top of the Sheeffry Hills plateau from whichever of several entry points chosen, the walker enjoys the corrie lake of Lough Brawn, the two unnamed lakes on the top, one of which is in the shape of a banana and the nice, but harmless, ridge separating the scree-strewn northern slopes from their more grassy and less steep southern brothers.

Indeed, the range can now also be accessed on its eastern extremity from the section of the Western Way that has recently been taken off-road. This brings the walker north from Tawnyard Lough and up by Tawny Rower. Another option is to avoid this (lower) area to the east and ascend from the south, up the long southeast spur. Points 742m and 762m can be visited on the way across to Barrclashcame.

Descend southwards (not westwards) from near the western extreme, heading towards the Scots Pines and wall near the south-eastern corner of Doo Lough, where the bridge crosses the Glenummera River just north of the junction between the Louisburgh to Leenane Road and that coming in from Drummin.

Sheeffry Hills Walk

Distance 12 km; total ascent 912 m; time 5 hours.

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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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