If you’re looking to get away from it all and experience some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland, then the stunning Western Way is the route for you. This 99km route through the heart of wild Connemara offers a fantastic combination of lakes, hills, open countryside and coastal walking.
Starting from the ‘Gateway to Connemara’ in the town of Oughterard your journey will take you through the Maam Valley, the Inagh Valley, along Killary Harbour to Leenane and then on through Drummin to your finishing point of Westport.
Your first day will take you along the shore of the wonderful Lough Corrib which extends through Connemara. Its southern tip reaches the edge of Galway City where it enters the Atlantic by way of a canal. The lake covers an area of 176 km² and is popular for fishing. Not only is it a site of ecological significance, it is also internationally important as a marine archaeological site. Over the years many wrecks have been found here including Bronze Age and Iron Age dugout canoes, a Viking vessel known as ‘Carrowmoreknock Boat’ and a Victorian pleasure yacht.
As you make your way to the beautiful village of Leenane you will pass along the shores of Killary Harbour. The harbour is one of three fjords in Ireland and alongside being a stunning spot for tourists to visit, it has long been a place of habitation and work. In the harbour you will see the distinctive buoys and lines of mussel farms. Meanwhile, on land, you will see ruins and ridged fields, known as ‘lazy beds’ which are synonymous with the region and serve as a permanent reminder of the population who perished or emigrated, as a result of the Great Famine of the mid 1800’s.
After Leenane you will pass alongside Tawnyard Lough before climbing over the Sheefry Pass and into the wide-open valley below. The view back over Tawnyard Lough as you climb is surely one of the most stunning Ireland as the meandering lake, trees and bogland are framed by the craggy summits and ridges of the hills beyond.
Before you reach Westport, you pass along the edge of the famous Croagh Patrick mountain. The mountain is where St. Patrick is said to have spent 40 days at the summit, fasting during Lent. Some brave souls still climb Croagh Patrick barefoot in the form of a pilgrimage. From the Western Way it is possible to climb Croagh Patrick from the Southern side which is the path less travelled but an amazing route nonetheless.
For more information on the Western Way or any of the most popular walking trails in Ireland please contact one of our Travel Specialists.