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Walk of the month: Drumleen Lake Loop Walk

Outdoor Living

DRUMLIN DREAMIN’ As its name suggests, Drumleen Lake was formed when melting glacial waters lodged between ridges of sediment during the last ice age.

Martin Dillane

Drumleen Lake Loop Walk
Trail Head: Beside the R312 road in Leterbrick, neer Keenagh
Trail Surface: Old bog roads
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3 km
Duration: Hiking 1-1.5 hours
OSI Discovery Map Number 23
Dogs: No dogs allowed, as this walk goes through farmland

People often ask me to recommend family friendly walks. Nothing too difficult; a walk perhaps in the region of an hour duration giving a sense of the great outdoors without becoming totally immersed in it. Safe conditions underfoot and picnic benches are high on the desired list. Drumleen Lake Loop Walk fits the bill perfectly in this regard. During the recent fine autumn weather I had the opportunity to sample this route, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The creation of the walk is down to the foresight of the local community and the generous spirit of the local landowners. Generosity similar to this should never be overlooked or forgotten. It turned out to be an ideal time to visit, as the route had been awarded funding for a major upgrade, and I was seeing it in its original organic state.
Drumleen (‘druimlín’ in Irish) means an extended oval hill or ridge. In Mayo these features can be found in great multitude in the land belt surrounding Clew Bay and extending out to create the many islands in the bay. They are a testament to the last ice age when glaciers moved and melted creating a ridge of compacted sediment. In certain instances the melting waters lodged between and behind the ridges thus creating lakes, a perfect example being Drumleen Lake. This phenomenon can be found throughout Ireland and the British Isles, and Druimlín, as ‘drumlin’, is one of the many Gaelic words to become part of the English language.
The route starts from a high vantage point at the lay-by on the N33 with a view that would take your breath away. One then effortlessly reduces height as the path passes old homesteads and barns of a previous era before reaching the shores of the lake.
The tranquil autumnal weather meant the lake was like a sheet of glass with the image of the surrounding hills reflected on the surface. The scene was similar to one of an Alpine region, all that was absent was the snow-capped peaks. One of these surrounding peaks is named Tristia (Troiste), this name refers perhaps to a hill created in the shape of a triangle or tripod with three sides forming the base.
On the side opposite to our vantage point the famous St Patrick’s Well lies nestled in the base of the hill. This well is reputed to offer cures for eye ailments and jealousy.
Around halfway through the walk there is an opportunity to go right on a forest trail and climb part of Tristia. However, we kept to our lake shore route admiring a family of mallard ducks thrashing through the water in an attempt to put as much distance as they could between them and us. The sun was setting behind the Nephins as we arrived back at the start. The light at this time of year can be magical, almost other worldly. Then again it was Halloween.

> Martin Dillane works for South West Mayo Development Company as Rural Recreation Officer. His job includes the design, development and promotion of walking and cycling trails. He can be contacted at Every month, he will cover a new  section of the 200km Western Way, which starts in Oughterard, Co Galway, and ends in Bonniconlon in north Mayo.