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Hiking the Connemara Western Way

Oughterard to Westport

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  • Connemara-Killary-fjord-irelandways
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The Western Way offers a great opportunity to discover many of the secret places and isolated parts of Ireland. This 114 km walking route provides an excellent introduction for walkers to the beautiful and scenic wildernesses of Connemara, County Galway and County Mayo.

Starting in the famous angler’s town of Oughterard on Lough Corrib, it follows the western edge of the lake northwards into a magnificent wilderness of mountain and bog to reach civilisation again at the village of Maam Bridge. It was from here that the Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo planned the modern roads of Connemara in the early 19th century.

From the Maam Valley the route crosses the rugged Maumturk Mountains by a pass, at the top of which is Maum Ean, a holy place that has attracted pilgrims since the early Christian period. Descending again into the beautiful Inagh Valley the route passes between the Twelve Bens and the Maumturks, and through a wild landscape to reach the shores of Killary Harbour and the picturesque village of Leenane, one of the locations for the movie The Field.

The terrain is a mixture of quiet roads, bog paths, open moorland, forest trails, mountain tracks, boreens and a causeway through a timber bog (some parts of the route can be very wet and boggy, particularly after a period of heavy rain, when there is a fast run-off from the Connemara mountains).

VIEW OUR TOUR OPTIONS

  • The Western Way – Short Break:
    • 5 days/4 nights. Walk The Western Way from Oughterard to Leenane, staying in our selected accommodation.
  • The Western Way – Full Walk:
    • 7 days/6 nights. Hike The Western Way from Oughterard to Westport, staying in our selected accommodation.

Trip highlights

  • Immerse yourself in the wild landscape of Connemara
  • Take a boat tour of Killary harbour, the only fjord in Ireland
  • Enjoy a hike to the top of Croagh Patrick and visit the little church on the summit
  • Rent a bike and explore the Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achill Island

1 Oughterard

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To begin the Western Way you arrive in the town of Oughterard which is the gateway to Connemara. It is located about 1 hour from Galway City by bus.
Important: This tour will travel through a Gaeltacht (Irish Speaking) area some of the road signs may be in Irish, this is a perfect opportunity to pick up and practice a few Irish words (cúpla focal) along the way.

2 Oughterard to Maam Valley - 21km

Maam-bridge-ireland-ways

6H | +194 m/-159 m
Today you will be walking along a mix of country roads and Boreens (Irish: bóithrín, meaning ‘little road’ – narrow, frequently unpaved, rural road in Ireland) past woods on your left and stunning vistas of Lough Corrib on your right. It was once said that “Lough Corrib had an island for every day of the year” although a survey published in 2011 puts the figure at 1327.

3 Maam Valley to Lough Inagh Valley - 15km

Lough Inagh

4H | +2133m / -1567m
Walking from your accommodation in the Maam Valley to Lough Inagh Valley you will enjoy vast green landscapes on todays relatively easy walk along the Western Way. Shortly after you reach the top end of Lough Corrib you turn Westwards along a mountain pass. You will travel by a holy well and a ruined church before reaching a regional road, from here you will be walking in the shadow of the Maumturk mountains on your right, the tallest in the range is just over 702m and on your left a mountain range collectively known as the 12 Bens. The Lough Inagh Valley is predominantly a farming community, focusing on sheep farming. Get your camera ready to capture some nice sheep shots all along this section.
As we are in a Gaeltacht (Irish Speaking) area all road signs are in Irish.

4 Lough Inagh Valley to Leenane - 14km

Leenane

3H30 | +833m / -803m
An easy day today entering a pine forest and bogland. The Way climbs briefly to Glencraff before contouring the northern flanks of the Maumturks to view Killary Harbour, one of Ireland’s three fjords. The day finishes in the village of Leenane (An Lionan in Irish, meaning ‘the tide filling place’), which is a lovely hamlet nestling under the impressive mountains of Co. Mayo. From Leenane there is an option of a short boat tour of Killary Fjord, this can be arranged on the afternoon you arrive into Leenane or in the morning before you depart.
Extra day: Free Day in Connemara with optional walks from Lough Inagh. If you missed the Maumturk Mountains yesterday it is possible to do a route today behind your guest house. The Twelve Bens are across Lough Inagh with many wonderful routes available. The Connemara National Park and Visitor Centre is also within striking distance as are Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian Walled Gardens. Your hosts will assist you with transfers to your chosen route.

Leenane is the end of the ‘Short Break’.

5 Leenane to Drummin - 12km/23km

3H/6H | +1024m / -993m
You will be transferred from Leenane to Glenacally Bridge, as the first part of the Way follows an 8km section of busy main road.
Option A: Today you will be entering Co. Mayo, The Western Way rises through forest over Tawnyard Lough descending to Sheefry Bridge over the Owenmore River in the foothills of the Sheefry Hills and continuing along a rural road to your accommodation this evening in Drummin.
Option B: The longer alternative route leads you on a climb down deep stream eroded ravines and over the Sheeffry Hills via a mountain pass at 480m to see the first glimpse of the quartzite cone of Croagh Patrick to the North. From here you will descend to the glaciated Lough Lugacolliwee (239m), this area feels like an oasis of calm in the midst of such mountainous splendour, weather permitting this is the ideal place for lunch, before continuing your journey through the forest at Leenavesta and reaching your accommodation in Drummin for the evening.

6 Drummin to Westport - 24km

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6H | +219m / -281m
With today’s walking you have an option of how you get to Westport.
Option A: Walk to Westport. A minor road takes you to the south of Croagh Patrick, sheep grazing country, rising to open moorland, before crossing a pass at 250m to see island studded Clew Bay. The Way descends through the remains of a Famine village, then wanders through drumlins, which are glacial mounds deposited in the flatland surrounding Westport town. The town was the creation of James Wyatt and although classically planned, remains picturesque.
Option B: Transfer to Croagh Patrick climb it and walk into Westport. Your host can transfer you to the foot of Croagh Patrick where you can begin your ascent of this famous mountain via an old pilgrim’s trail (Tochar Way) this route is less well known but easier as you begin you ascent at 240m not at sea level. You descend the mountain on the same route you climbed it, picking up the Western way and continuing on to Westport Town.

Extra Day Croagh Patrick tour - 15/20km

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4H30/5H30 | +171m / -152m
Walk or take a taxi from Westport to Murrisk and climb the world famous Croagh Patrick Mountain (764m). From the top take in the epic Clew Bay with its many Islands and to the south the Sheefree Hills or The Partry Mountains. If you are still feeling energetic you can leisurely walk the coast road back into Westport.

Extra Day Great Western Greenway tour - 42km

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4h30 | 42km

Enjoy an extra night in Westport. After breakfast you will catch a bus to Achill Sound where you will collect your bike. The cycle along this disused train line is one of the most scenic and family friendly in Ireland.

 

7 Westport

Westport The Great Western Greenway Ireland Ways

After your breakfast your tour with us finishes.
Why not ask our team about adding an extra nights accommodation if you wish to spend some time exploring the designated Heritage Town of Westport. Step back in time when you visit the 16th century Westport house and gardens. Being so close to the sea most restaurants will specialise in a variety of seafood, try shellfish farmed in Killary fjord. For a traditional Irish evening out, stop off at Matt Molloy’s bar which is world famous for Irish music, ‘Craic agus Ceol’.

Hotels & country cottages have been carefully selected for their location, comfort, character, food, and friendliness of the staff. They are subject to availability and if the hotel described is not available, we will provide you with one of the same standard of comfort & price. Please click on hotel information below.

Oughterard - Standard

We have selected a family run guesthouse just outside the centre of the town.

Maam Cross - Standard

Our first choice accommodation in this area is a purpose built guesthouse which specalises with walkers on the Western Way.

Lough Inagh Valley - Standard

Your accommodation this evening will be a family run guest house in the Lough Inagh Valley.

Leenane - Standard

This guest house’s location is truly stunning, with mountain views at the back of the house and views of the fjord to the front, guests are invited to relax in the landscaped gardens or guest lounge and avail of the free WIFI, so you can keep in touch with the office or home if the need arises.

Drummin - Standard

Your accommodation this evening is a peaceful retreat set in award winning gardens, your hostess is renowned for her home cooking. High standards and presentation are second to none, especially for her freshly made evening meals.

Westport - Standard

Our first choice accommodation is a charming 3 star hotel in the centre of this picturesque town.

Galway Average Temperature and Rainfall

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How to Get There

Live information on Rome2Rio. We can also arrange private transfers if you prefer, just ask us.

 

Oughterard

 

Shannon Airport to Galway 85km:

Shannon Airport to Galway | Bus Éireann | Travel time 1H50, leaving from outside the main terminal leaving every hour approx | Fare €22 one way.

 

Dublin Airport to Galway 215km:

Dublin Airport to Galway | Go Bus – Bus Éireann | Travel time 3H15 approx, leaving from outside the main terminal | Fare €17-€19 approx one way.

 

Dublin City Centre to Galway 208km:

Step 1: Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre | Aircoach | Travel time 0H30, leaving every 15-30min | Fare €6 approx. one way.

OR

Step 1: Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre | Dublin Bus – Bus No.747 | Travel time 0H40, leaving every 15min | Fare €6 one way. (NOTE: This bus also stops at Heuston Train Station).

Step 2: Once on O’Connell Street it is a short walk, tram or taxi ride to Heuston Train Station, Busaras Bus Depot or George’s Quay.

Step 3: Dublin City Centre (George’s Quay) to Galway | Go Bus | Travel time 2H30 approx, departing every hour | Fare €17 approx one way.

OR

Step 3: Dublin City Centre (Busaras Bus Depot) to Galway | Bus Éireann | Travel time 3H30 approx, departing every hour | Fare €20 approx one way.

OR

Step 3: Dublin City Centre (Heuston Train Station) to Galway | Irish Rail | Travel time 2h30 approx, leaving roughly every 2 hours | Fare €35 one way.

 

Galway to Oughterard 26km:

Galway to Oughterard | Bus Éireann | Travel time 45mins, leaving from Galway Bus Station | Fare €7.60 one way.

 

Westport

 

Ireland West Airport Knock 55km:

Knock Airport to Westport | Bus | Travel time 1H from outside the main terminal, departing every 3 hours | Fare €6 one way.

 

Dublin Airport 258km:

Dublin Airport to Westport | Bus | Travel time 4H00, departing every 3 hours roughly, from outside the main terminal,  | Fare €25 one way.

 

Dublin City Centre 251km:

Dublin Airport to Dublin City | Aircoach or Bus No. 747 | Travel time 0H30 leaving Dublin Airport for O’Connell Street every 15 minutes | Fare €6 one-way.

Dublin City to Westport | Bus | Travel time 5h30 from Dublin Central Bus Station (Busáras) on Store St to Westport (Mill St – Westbound Stop), leaving every 2 and a half hours | Fare €25 one way.

Dublin City to Westport | Train | Travel time 3H00 from Heuston Train Station, Dublin, departing every 3 hours | Fare €35 one way.

 

More information: 

Air Coach – Airport Transfer

Bus Eireann – Intercity Bus

Go Bus – Non Stop Bus Service

Dublin Bus – Dublin City Bus

Irish Rail – Train