Ramble The Rocky Mountain Way
Trail surface: Great Western Greenway, bog roads and quiet country roads
Difficulty: Moderate bike trail for experienced mountain bikers
Highest point: 100m
Duration: Biking 2.5 hours, hiking 4.5 hours
Dogs: No dogs allowed, as this walk goes through open farmland.
Start: Newport – trail starts at Canon Killeen park; Mulranny – up behind the Mulranny Park Hotel on the Greenway.
Description: Magnificent views of Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick and the heather-clad slopes of the Nephin Mountains. From Glendahurk, Glenthomas and Glenamaddoo rushing mountain streams hurry onward to Clew Bay.
Well before walking became the number one outdoor activity in Ireland, Burrishoole landowners recognised their countryside’s potential for tourism and walking. So much so that in the mid 2000s a whole network of trails were established in the area. This network, stretching from Newport to Mulranny, contains 12 loops in total, most of which will soon be Fáilte Ireland accredited – another first for an area that set the standard for looped walks many years ago.
Over the last few years the Greenway has been developed and has been an incredible success. The loops now need to reflect this change and adapt accordingly. This is being done currently in an exciting new inititive which will see five new map boards being designed and installed for the loops. Improvements are also being done to the actual routes and new trail furniture and safety features are being added.
This month’s walk/cycle is a really interesting one. It reflects many of these changes. It begins and finishes on the Greenway but also takes in all the very best scenery the Burrishoole loops have to offer. It starts in Newport or Mulranny and travels on the Greenway for around two kilometres before heading north along the upper spine of the Burrishoole loops.
I couldn’t have picked a better time of year to have cycled the trail, as the weather in late April was absolutely beautiful. I departed Newport heading west on the Greenway before joining the Lettermaghera loop. Then it was up through the Wire Hills to uncover the myriad of spectacular lakes that lie off the tourist trail, hidden from the main Newport to Mulranny road. The final climb took me through the village of Lettermaghera.
After gaining height, the views of Clew Bay and the surrounding area opened up before me. On this day, the sky was the clearest blue you could imagine filled with the sound of skylarks soaring and diving in their courtship rituals. I was now on the Rocky Mountain Way proper, a route that took me all the way to Mulranny, whilst looking down at the busier Greenway below.
I travelled through townlands with ancient Irish names like Min Na Clocha Finne, Srahcorrick and Cathreenbrack. By a strange twist of fate, it was here I ran into Barry Dalby from East West mapping. He is compiling a list of these names to include on a map covering all the Nephin Beg range from Newport to Bangor. This old Gaelic heritage is priceless and should be preserved.
I arrived in Mulranny three hours after leaving Newport, delighted to avail of some lunch at the hotel. With the wind now on my back, I returned to Newport via the Rockfleet Castle Loop … but that’s a story for another day.
Martin Dillane is Rural Recreation Officer with South West Mayo Development Company. Next month, he starts a series of monthly articles on the Western Way.