A diamond among the hills
DIAMOND HILL WALK, CONNEMARA
Estimated time 2hrs – 3hrs
Start and Finish Connemara National Park Visitor Centre
Trail surface Gravel tracks and paved mountain paths
Bring Walking shoes, rain gear, camera, water and snack, mobile phone.
While you are in the area visit Kylemore Abbey and Gardens, Connemara National Park Visitor Centre.
North West Connemara is Irish landscape at its most dramatic. It contains soaring mountains, scattered lakes and an intricate coastline with many lovely beaches. The villages of Leenane, Renvyle and Letterfrack offer plenty of places to stay and eat.
A number of mountain ranges dominate the area. The rugged Maumturks and the quartzite peaks of the Twelve Bens are on the Galway side of Killary Harbour. On the Mayo side we have the Partry and Sheeffry mountains, while in the Delphi Valley, Connaught’s highest mountain Mweelrea dominates the area. This region offers some of the most challenging and exciting hillwalking in the country.
If you are new to hillwalking then Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park near Letterfrack, is the perfect place to start. Encompassing almost 3,000 hectares of mountain, bog and woodland, the Park’s Visitor Centre is the ideal spot to start this 7km walk up the 445m-high mountain. The trail has a solid dry surface that is easy to walk on and a timber boardwalk crosses the boggy sections, but do wear good walking shoes and bring rain gear.
Your starting point is the Visitor Centre at the Connemara National Park. From here, the fully signposted and surfaced track takes you along the Sruffaunboy Nature Trail before branching off towards the cone of Diamond Hill. Gravel footpaths and wooden boardwalks ease your passage over the bog as you approach the mountains, with a steady climb up the western slopes to the summit ridge. The ridge is a narrow fin of quartzite roughly half a kilometer long, which culminates in a cairn that marks the 445m-high summit. From here, look to the sea to Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark; to Tully Mountain rising over Ballynakill Harbour and along the intricate Connemara coastline. To the north and east, the Twelve Bens are nothing short of sensational. To the northeast, Kylemore Abbey’s gothic turrets stand out from neighbouring Kylemore Lough while directly north the summit of Mweelrea and the Mayo highlands can be seen peeping out. Your return to the visitor centre is along the same path as you made your ascent.
Tom Carolan works for South West Mayo Development Company as Recreation Officer. His job involves the design, construction, and promotion of recreational trails. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article os the third in the Living section Walk of the Month series, which describes a different Mayo walk on the first Tuesday of each month.