A secret in the hills
Tawnyard to Drummin
Estimated time: 2.5-5 hours
Grade: Moderate-difficult depending on route taken
Gear: Walking boots and raingear, camera, liquids, lunch
Terrain: Minor road, tracks, hill and bog
This month’s walk, from Tawnyard to Drummin, forms part of the Western Way route in Mayo. The Western Way is an iconic walking trail; it covers around 150 kilometres of trail between Mayo and Galway and without a doubt, takes in some of the most stunning scenery both counties have to offer.
As one complete long-distance trail, the Western Way is not for the fainthearted. A good level of fitness, camping gear, along with a pair of sturdy well worn in and water proofed walking boots are required, should you be tempted to complete the full route from Oughterard in Galway to Ballycastle in North Mayo.
This section of the Western Way requires two cars. The starting point is the carpark at Tawnyard where the last walk ended and the second car can be parked at Drummin church.
There are two choices for this route as typical of almost every outdoor activity this summer; both are very much subject to weather conditions on the day. Should the weather be as it has been for the last month, rain, mist, wind and more rain, then the best route to take is to turn right up the hill that leads onto the rock road, over the Sheeffry bridge and continue by minor road north east to Drummin village.
However, should the weather surprise us all and the rain decides to stay away, then follow the recent re-route of the Western Way, taking a left after the Sheeffry Bridge and following the markers that will guide you up to Lugacolliwee, a crystal clear lake set beneath cliffs and a truly magical sight, reserved only for those who journey onto the higher hills.
The walk up hill can take up to an hour and a half depending on pace, and how long you stop to savour the views across the Sheeffry hills as you make your way to the top. Continue down past the lake watching out for markers along the way, whilst also taking care underfoot.
Follow the route down to Shanvalleybeg, coming onto a track of an old road until you meet a gate (taking care to close it, we are on farmed land) and continue down the road until you come to the junction taking a right for Drummin village that will lead you back to the church and your car.
Tawnyard Forest Trail is around 25 minutes drive from Westport. Take the road for Leenane and continue along before turning right for Drummin. Continue straight past Drummin Church and up and over the Rock Road. Coillte’s Tawnyard Carpark is on your left after the viewing point, as you go down the hill. The drive alone is worth doing for the views along the way.
The Western Way has been rerouted at Sheeffry Bridge and Shanvalleybeg and differs from old OSI maps. It is no longer marked sufficiently at Glenlaur and the route does not go straight on to Derrymore, it instead veers right at Shanvalleybeg. New mapboards for this route will be in place before the end of 2012. No dogs are allowed on the Lugacolliwee route.