About Brackloon Woods
Brackloon Wood is situated 4 km east of Croagh Patrick and 7km south west of Westport Co.Mayo. The area is underlain by soils derived from schist and gneiss.It is a old oak woodlland a habitat listed on the EU Habitats Directive.It is a single block some 74ha in area.The Owenwee river forms the eastern boundary of the wood and a number of small streams run through it forming patches of marshy ground. The wood is typical of the scattered remnants of semi natural wodlands now remaining in western coastal counties and is one of the few remaining natural climax woodlands in the western region. In the ninteen sixties, almost half the area was planted with conifers, mainly Norway and Sitka Spruce. These were clearfelled in the the mid nineties and native oak replanted. These trees were derived from acorns collected in the wood.The present breakdown of the forest would now be 45% native planting of former conifers areas 35% oak woodland and the remainder native scrub and mixed high forest containing oak, ash, birch and elm. The scrub layer contains holly hazel and willow,with a lower layer of herbs and wood rush. Sheep and cattle grazing and the spread of Rhododendron pose serious threats to the site. Although broken up by conifer planting the basic structure exists and it remains an area of considerable ecological importance.
At the moment there is no access to Brackloon Woods from the trailhead as indicated below. You can only access Brackloon Woods from the Killeencoff side, therefore it is not possible to do a loop.
The trailhead is located at the entrance to Brackloon Wood approximately 6km from Westport town.
From Westport, take N59 to Leenane. After approximately 6km, turn right off N59 at sign for “Owenwee”. The trail entrance is 250 m further further up on right.
The Walk at a Glance
Trail Name: Brackloon Nature Walk
Trailhead / Start Point: Entrance to Brackloon Wood
Distance: 04 km
Estimated Time: Approximately 1hr – 1h 20mins
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Woodland Track
Minimum Gear: Walking Shoes & Water Resistant Clothing
Map Reference: Os Discovery Series Sheet 31
Starting from the trailhead, follow the purple arrow and enter Brackloon Woods by the wooden gate. Continue to follow the purple arrows along the forestry track – nothing that you are also travelling along the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail (marked with yellow arrows and the familiar walking man logo). After 500m you reach a 3 way-junction with wooden seats – you will be returning to this point on the return journey – for now, continue straight.
After 300m the forestry track passes close to the river (on the right) and continues to follow the forestry track for a further 1km to reach a junction with a wooden gate on your right. Note that the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail eits through this gate onto tarred road – you turn left.
Follow the purple arrows as forestry track takes you first uphill and then a 1km descent to reach the 3-way junction at B above. This time turn right.
Enjoy the last 500m back to the trailhead.
Points of Interest
Brackloon wood is a surviving remnant of the original wooded landscape, which made up the great native forest resource of Ireland. Formerly part of Lord Sligo’s estate, this area was acquired by the Land Commission in the 1940s. Having prematurely removed coniferous trees planted in the sixties, Brackloon wood is now classified as a semi-natural Atlantic oak woodland.
Apart from the woodland trees, other flora to be seen include wood sorrel, hard fern and bilberry. Fauna common to the area are badgers, fox and pinemartin.