There’s nothing quite like being out in the great wide open, and to say Galway is a walker’s paradise is a bit of an understatement! With spectacular mountain ranges, fine beaches and stunning scenery around every corner, Galway is a natural centre for walking and hiking. And with such a variety in landscape, hundreds flock to Galway each year on walking holidays. What else could you ask for – clean fresh air and plenty of exercise?
This 50km route starts at Oughterard and finishes at Leenane. On route you’ll also take in Maam, Maumeen, Inagh and Toorenacoona, as well as the Maum Turks, the Twelve Bens, and the banks of Lough Corrib. The terrain consists of quiet roads, bog roads, open moorland, forestry tracks, mountain paths and about 3km of timber bog bridge: some parts of the route can be very wet and boggy, particularly after a rainy period, when there is a fast run-off from the Connemara mountains.
Starting point: Oughterard, Co. Galway, Ireland
Suck Valley Way
This is a 10km walk that will take you through boglands, lowland farms, and the “9 friendly villages” Ballygar, Creggs, Glinsk, Ballymoe, Ballintober, Dunamon, Castlecoote, Athleague and Mount Talbot. The area is also rich in history, and offers an almost unique opportunity to experience the life of rural Ireland, a glimpse of its history and the rich bird and plantlife of the boglands and callows. It’s a marked walkway, just look out for black posts with yellow direction arrows.
Connemara National Park
Spanning nearly 3,000 hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths and woodlands, Connemara National Park is a fantastic spot for walking and hiking There are actually 3 walks to do within the park. The pathways are well marked out and signposted and the walks are planned to suit everyone, from the novice to the well-seasoned walker. You also have the added comfort of having Park Rangers on hand, just in case you get into any difficulties.
If nothing else, this walk will awaken your curiosity – to see if you could find the burial site of Queen Maeve of Connaught. The famous Queen is supposed to be buried on top of Knockma Hill. This partially wooded hill contains examples of the famous Burren flora, the Spring Gentian and the Purple Helleborine to name but two species. From the summit of Knockma may be obtained one of the grandest panoramic views in Ireland. This walk starts at Castlehackett and is approximately 4km long.
The trail at Mount Bellew Woodland, a 5km walk, isn’t too hard on the legs. Look out for Sika deer, along with a museum that used to be a forge, a tug boat (around 900 years old), the Herd’s House and a flour mill (now in ruins), and magnificent oaks, sitkas and Norway spruces. The River Shevin flows through the area and an artificial lake adds to the beauty of the woodlands.