Ireland. It conjures up such strong images of poetic beauty. Of simplicity, strong hearts and inquisitive minds and long, wild stretches of emerald countryside. And while much of this is pure conjecture, there is a lot of truth to the stereotypical imagery we have of Ireland. Here at Macs Adventure, we are always looking for new hikes in Ireland, ways for us to explore even more corners of this underexplored country. Sally, our Ireland Tour Development Manager has just created something special over on the west coast, so we would like to present our latest walking holiday in Ireland, Walking in Connemara.
Distance: 59 Kilometres over four days walking. This means that you are walking a very comfortable 10-17km every day.
Grading: We have created this trip to be an Easy-Moderate graded trip, meaning that it is open to anyone with a little bit of walking fitness so pretty much anyone can explore this glorious corner of Ireland. There are very few elevation gains and losses, and the most you will encounter is 150m elevation gain on a couple of the walks.
It must be noted that in Ireland there are no “public rights of way”. Therefore this itinerary does involve walking on roads which have low traffic, especially on the first few days. This is unavoidable to experience this area on foot, but the roads are pleasant to walk on with great views and loads of interaction from the locals.
Connemara National Park is located in west-central Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Coast. It is an area well known for its natural beauty, and our walking trip squeezes in as much of that beauty as we can possibly fit in. The tour kicks off atop those wild Atlantic cliffs in Cliffden, where you will spend your first day doing loop walks along the Sky Road, with views that will linger long in the memory. Then we transfer you out to Inishbofin, a small island with a significant impact. After this day you are back on the mainland, but not for long as your day’s walk takes you across the tidal flats to Omey Island. Then, for your final day, it is a trip through the Maumturks, a rolling range of hills with stunning views over Irelands only Fjord.
I am going to go straight for the cheesy and say, you should walk it for the romance of the trip. This is entirely the Ireland of your imagination. The trip encapsulates all the things you see when you close your eyes and think what it would be like to be in Ireland. The wind in the tall grass as you stare out across the steely grey sea, the tiny pub, bursting with music and laughter, the solitude of walking through shining green landscapes and across deserted, wind-swept beaches, it is all here.
Though, there are some more tangible highlights on the trip too! The Sky Road is as magical as it sounds. On a clear day, you will likely not have seen a better view in your life. In one direction you are looking back over the pretty little town of Clifden, awash in a sea of green fields framed by the undulating hills of the 12 Ben Mountains, and in the other, the majestic sea cliffs and the endless Atlantic Ocean. Clifden itself is a beautiful little town to spend some time in, placid and quaint, but full of cheer, particularly in the pub at night.
Inishbofin Island is tiny but remarkable, and definitely, somewhere you will consider living the rest of your life. Its tranquillity and super strong sense of community are only put in the shade by the extreme beauty of the place. It has award-winning beaches, crystal-clear water, mountains and geological wonders. It is also home to thousands of birds and a breeding area for Corncrakes. It is also a centre of traditional music and song and hosts five restaurants all serving local fare, freshly caught or grown.
Then, of course, there are the people. Ireland could be the most unattractive, dull looking country in the world and it would still be worth visiting for the people alone. There is an unassuming friendliness in Ireland and particularly in the more remote parts, where people want to talk to you, to find out where you are from and what you are doing. They will offer suggestions of what to see, what to eat and always greet you with a smile and a wave. It is such a lovely feeling as if you are instantly part of something, not an outsider visiting, but a welcomed guest.
If Walking in Connemara sounds like your cup of tea, it is pretty straightforward to get there. It is a reasonably long transfer, but an easy one. From Dublin, it is around a 3-hour bus ride to Galway and then another hour and a half on a bus up to Clifden. However, flying into Shannon airport cuts the transfer to Galway in half, meaning you only have a 3-hour trip altogether.
If you have any questions about walking in Ireland, get in touch with our team on [email protected], and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.