walking holiday

Posts tagged with: 'walking holiday'

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] tourismpurewalking.com.

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

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Shared Rooms Only, is it Possible ?

I’ve been wondering about this for quite a while now. Could I offer a walking holiday with shared rooms only ?

We’ve all heard about ‘production orientation’ versus ‘customer orientation’, right ? The former is where a business puts production values before customer ‘wants’. The latter is where a business puts the customer’s ‘wants’ at the centre of all decisions. The former is generally deemed bad, while the latter good. And yet …

Shared rooms on walking holidays

The Mullet Peninsula

One of the pillars of ecotourism / green tourism / sustainable tourism / rural tourism (whatever you’re having yourself) is the notion of supporting local communities and their tourism providers.

So here’s the conundrum. Up in far-flung Erris, out on the Mullet Peninsula, there are only a small number of B&Bs. Each has only a limited number of rooms. Now, I try to support them by bringing some walkers out there each year (not enough, but that’s another story). Anyway, my issue is that it bothers me greatly when I ask them for single bookings, because I know I’m occupying their very limited rooms while not maximising their income.

Shared Rooms on a Walking Holiday

In this case, is it really that bad to be somewhat ‘production-oriented’, by offering walkers shared rooms only for this walking holiday experience ? Does this mean I’m unduly favouring the product over the customer ? I think not. I hope you think not too.

Shared rooms

B&B Partner, Léim Siar

In my heart, I know it’s a lovely walking holiday product that’s being offered. I believe that walkers will agree to this perhaps unusual ‘condition’. So, for the 2013 version of my popular Western Ocean Walking Weekend, taking place over the August bank holiday weekend, I’ll only be offering shared accommodation. Let’s see how this one pans out.

Cick on the link to book your room-sharing place on this lovely guided walking weekend.

Visit Léim Siar B&B and Brú Chlann Lir B&B.

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Discussing Walking Holidays with the Heritage Council

Guided walking holidays Ireland

Walking holidays in Mayo

I was delighted to be invited to speak about my guided walking holidays at the Heritage Council’s event at Lough Lannagh, Mayo this morning, entitled “Heritage as an Engine for Economic Growth”.

I kept it simple, demonstrating how even a small operator like myself (and other colleagues) can bring a little economic benefit to an area, through delivery of guided walking holidays. The organisation of walking holidays requires partners – be that in accommodation, food provision, local transportation or great rural pubs. In a coastal county like Mayo, transportation can include not just bike and minibus hire, but also boat charter to reach offshore islands.

I try to work with B&Bs, like Hannah at Léim Siar, that will provide my guests with evening meals. Where that’s not possible, I work with local food providers, like the excellent John at the Clubhouse in Belmullet.

But I also spoke of how heritage tourism can involve getting down and dirty with locally based conservation projects, like the environmentally sensitive removal and eventual eradication of non-native invasive species, such as Rhododendron or Gunnera Tinctoria (‘Giant Rhubarb’). It was great to meet some people with whom I might be able to work on such projects in the future, by involving guests on my walking holidays.

Mayo is working hard to improve its position in the Irish tourism product offer. Domestically, we know we’re competing with the likes of Kerry and West Cork and much has been done by the County Council and other bodies on improving the walking product here. Internationally, we’re putting our offer up against Scotland, Norway and other European destinations for walking holidays. Where we’re different is in the quantity and quality of our heritage experiences. Being a county with a very low population density has allowed Mayo to retain much of its built, natural and cultural heritage.

Of course, I once again couldn’t resist the wheeling out of my big dream – to see long, looped walks of over 100 km around Mayo. Our county is a great, wild and very ‘real’ place for a walking holiday … and getting better.

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First Hillwalking of New Year

I got out hillwalking at the weekend for the first time since the holidays. Not 100% successful, I must admit!

Walking in Connemara and Mayo

Devilsmother from the northern Maumturks

On Saturday, I met up with a mate and we decided to take on the northern end of the Maumturks. Standing watch over Leenane, the Maumturks are nice mountains with great views over Killary Harbour (Ireland’s only true fjord), Mweelrea, Ben Gorm, Devilsmother and other summits all around. They’re not very high by any means, but it just wasn’t going to happen on this occasion. The wind was too strong and I could hardly stand up against it. The fierce wind was rushing up the fjord, coming around the corner of the hills and hitting me on my right hand side. Maybe if I had brought some extra ballast in my pockets or lead in my boots. Having been knocked over one time too many, it was time to admit defeat and descend.

So descend we did. We drove on over to Glencullin Lough, beyond Doo Lough on the truly stunning road over towards Louisburgh (and back in Mayo), where we could admire the magnificent cliffs of the steep-walled corrie between Ben Bury and Lugmore. We spent the late afternoon and into the dark refreshing our night navigation skills, heading home after 6.30 pm. There’s definitely something extra lovely about hiking around after dark. As long as you have batteries for your head torch, a map and compass, that is.

Hillwalking in Mayo

Glencullin Lough

On Sunday morning, I travelled back down south to take on Devilsmother. A serious slog gets you up onto what is possibly Ireland’s best true plateau. In strong wind again, I nevertheless completed a loop hike that also took in the highest point of the plateau, Maumtrasna, at 702 m.

A good weekend of hillwalking in south Mayo and north Galway.

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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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Welcome to 2012

December saw me take on three good hikes in the off-season.

I had a specific reason for revisiting The Bangor Trail from the Bangor end on Dec 21st, the shortest day of the year. While on ‘The Walk of Hope’ with the fabulous people of Foxford Ramblers Walking Club the previous Saturday, two companions from Bangor had told me of works being carried out on the Trail that they weren’t at all happy with. I just had to investigate, fearful of another example of environmental vandalism by public bodies.

Hillwalking in the west of Ireland

The Walk of Hope, with Foxford Ramblers Walking Club

But first, back to Foxford. Jim Murray and his colleagues had organised a charity walk for Sat, Dec 17th, in aid of Hope House in Foxford. It was an excellent 16 km walk over the lowish Mayo foothills of the Ox Mountains, from Bonniconlon back to Foxford. Towards the end of the walk was a superb wetlands area, with rushes, streams and three small lakes I need to re-investigate some time this year.

The walk was led by Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and we had lovely weather, save for one rough enough hailstone storm. A good 80 walkers took part and it was most enjoyable. Find out about Hope House here and Foxford Ramblers Walking Club here. A great day !


Walking holidays in Ireland

The Bangor Trail

The following Wednesday, I hiked from Bangor to the Tarsaghaunmore River on The Bangor Trail and back (8 km one-way). On the day that was in it, I knew I wouldn’t get any further by dusk and didn’t really fancy hiking after dark. All was going swimmingly until near the bridge, where I discovered the work to which the Bangor people had referred.

A bit of history : a number of interested parties, including NPWS and the local Leader company, had attended a meeting in late 2010 to discuss what should be done about the waterlogged nature of much of The Trail. I was decidedly on the “leave it alone” side of the discussions. My understanding of the outcome of this meeting was that only streams crossing the Trail would be boardwalked and / or drained and the remainder left as is. Instead, what I saw in December was both boardwalking and drainage work where there is no need whatsoever for either. Or to put it another way, if they deem work necessary on that section, then they’ll deem it necessary almost anywhere. The fear now is that this type of work will be carried out way in excess of what is required, threatening to ruin the uniqueness of this place.

Walking guide in Ireland

Lugnaquilla, Co. Wicklow

Between Christmas and New Year, I joined my brother-in-law for a hike up Wicklow’s Lugnaquilla, Ireland’s highest mountain outside Kerry. We came from the Glen of Imaal side, heading up by Dwyer’s statue. The walk (6.5 km one-way) was really easy, taking just under 2 hours to the 925 m high summit. It snowed on us for part of the hike and we unfortunately had no view when we reached the top.

It’s a hike I must try to do again this summer, but from the more difficult eastern side, because the Glen of Imaal approach is just a walk up a not-very-demanding slope. Indeed, many Mayo or Connemara mountains, of only 500 m height demand much more physical effort than this did.

She took and kissed the first flower once

and sweetly said to me :

‘This flower comes from the Wicklow hills,

dew wet and pure’, said she,

‘It’s name is Michael Dwyer,

the strongest flower of all.

But I’ll keep it fresh beside my breast,

though all the world should fall.’

[Na Trí Bláthanna / The Three Flowers (trad.)]

All said, an excellent December to finish off 2011. Now for 2012. Get in touch if you’d like to join one of my guided hillwalking weekends in Mayo.

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