These walks have been designed with holidaymakers in mind. With the exception of The Skelp Walk (No. 4), they are suitable for people of all ages with an average fitness level. The Skelp Walk is more demanding and has a longer off-road section.
Ordnance Survey Maps
The Ordnance Survey maps referring to this area are Discovery Series, Scale 1:50,000, Numbers 30, 31, 38
Notes for Walkers
• Strong, comfortable walking shoes are essential
• Where there is no footpath, walk on the right facing oncoming traffic.
• Always close gates behind you.
• Do not drop litter.
• Do not pick wild flowers.
• Westport Tourism Organsiation does not take any responsibility for accident or injury sustained during these walks.
The Town Walk can be enjoyed as one long or two short walks as it is formed of two loops, bringing you back almost to your starting point in the middle. The first loop takes approximately 1 1/4 hours, the second loop about 45 minutes.
This walk starts at The Octagon, in the town centre. Go down James Street and straight over the bridge at the bottom onto the N59, the Newport road. Pass Holy Trinity, the attractive Church of Ireland, on the left and continue up the hill. For a short distance there is no path on either side; take great care at this point. The path soon resumes on the left, below the level of the road with a wall on the right. Follow the path as far as the Teagasc building on the left, then go through the stile in the wall and cross the road with care.
Turn right immediately down a small by-road marked ’Cul de Sac’. On the left hand side you will notice a small monument marking the point where Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell addressed a Land League meeting in 1879. Follow this narrrow lane as it winds and turns right up a hill. At the top continue straight on; the lane becomes an overgrown path. The surface here is uneven and may be wet underfoot.
As the footpath rises, look out for Nephin mountain in the distance to your left. At the top turn right onto a wider cart track and descend the hill with a fine view of Croagh Patrick to the right. Turn left at the bottom by the little cottage and continue on past the Allergan pharmaceutical plant. This brings you out onto the main Castlebar-Westport road where you turn right, back towards Westport Town. This is a busy road so keep to the footpaths, first on the left and then on the right hand side. Use the pedestrian lights to cross Distillery Road at the bottom of the hill. Then, just before the bridge, turn left along the river and walk down the North Mall with its fine display of Georgian buildings.
At the end of the Mall turn right onto Mill Street and on to the clock at the end. The first loop is now complete, if you wish to return to the the start of the walk, turn right and walk along Shop Street to The Octagon. If you wish to continue on, turn left up High Street, a very steep hill. Look to the right of the bridge for the entrance to the old railway line and follow it to the right leaving the bridge behind you.
When the railway line ends and the walkway narrows, you will see a primary school on the right. Walk past that and keep to the left, past the bus station to the R335, the Louisburgh road, by the sea. Turn right, and head back towards town along The Quay, with its new apartment buildings. Follow the main road as it swings right up the hill, keeping to the path on the left. Stay on the left, walking to the centre of town, crossing Church Street to bring you back to the Octagon where the walk began.
Drive out the R335 (Louisburgh Road) along the coast. Pass through Murrisk (note the car park at the start of the Croagh Patrick climb on the left, and the dramatic famine memorial opposite). Just over a kilometre past Murrisk turn right (signposted Bertra Beach). This winding road brings you to a car park at the beach.
From the car park descend the steps or rocks down onto the beach. Turn right and, keeping Clew Bay and the islands on your left hand side, walk along the sandy beach. Follow the coastline right around the spit at the end and make your return journey on the slightly stonier terrain at the Murrisk side.
This is a very pleasant and easy walk with magnificent views all the way. It is best done at mid or low tide to get the full benefit of the sandy beach. On the outward journey many islands are clearly visible - Clare Island’s distinctive humped shape is straight out to sea and the bay sweeps around to Achill in the distance to the north. The other smaller islands, wonderful examples of drowned drumlins, are scattered around the bay. The return journey is dominated by the imposing bulk of Croagh Patrick or ‘The Reek’ as it is known locally. Murrisk village is also clearly visible.
On a calm day, keep a weather eye out for passing seals basking in the sunshine. The beach is a mecca for a variety of seabirds as illustrated on an informative signpost at the start of the walk. Skylarks are common in the dune area and their musical tones are a delightful feature. The dunes themselves are a fragile habitat and are under threat from a hungry sea.
Bertra Beach has attained EC Blue Flag status, testifying to the clarity of the water, cleanliness of the beach, accessibility for the disabled and provision of public conveniences. Mayo has more Blue Flag beaches than any other county in Ireland.
Take the N59 (Leenane Road) from Westport. Cross the old railway bridge and take the next turn right onto the West Road. After about 3km you will see Aughaval Cemetery on the left. Turn left and park outside the cemetery.
Walk away from the West Road, keeping the cemetery on your left side. Just past the graveyard, take the first turn left. This small side road runs alongside the Owenwee River as it gurgles through the lovely valley of Rossnagloch. To the right and slightly behind you is a superb view of Croagh Patrick. The boreen climbs slowly upwards and then sweeps down, leaving the mountain view behind.
Turn right at the T-junction, watching for the different varieties of wild flowers and heathers bordering your way. This is a lovely boreen winding over a delightful bridge (crossing the Owenwee River) and over the brow of a small hill. Now the little village of Killeenacoff can be seen ahead. Walk on through the scattering of pretty cottages, with as many ruined ones testifying to the higher populations in times gone by. Remnants of ‘lazy beds’ the potato plots of yesteryear are still clearly visible in the landscape.
Walk down a little hill and keep right, ignoring the road which joins from the left. Then turn right at a T-junction onto a marginally larger road, and pass the Cloona Health Centre on the left. Turn left immediately onto a small road giving sweeping views of the river, Clew Bay and the islands.
At the next T junction, turn right and continue until you meet the main Westport-Louisburgh Road. Turn right onto this road and immediately cross the Owenwee River yet again. This is a very busy road, take extreme care for the short walk along it. Walk on the right, facing the oncoming traffic. Take the next turn to the right, back onto the West Road which brings you back to Aughaval Cemetery and your starting point.
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.
Take the N59 (Leenane Road) from Westport, go through Knappagh and turn right at the Owenwee sign. Entrance is through a wooden gate on the right hand side.
Enter Brackloon Wood through the gap to the left of the gateway and follow the path as it circles through the forest in an anticlockwise direction. Ignore the two turns to the left. The path leads directly to the exit gate; go through the stile to the right of the gate.
Turn left along the road and take the first turn right onto a smaller road. Then take the first left down a steep hill and continue on uphill. This brings you to a T-junction with a small white cottage and red barn a little to the left; turn right here.
Walk on up the hill and at the brow superb panoramic views across Clew Bay begin to open up in front of you. Turn left at the next T-junction. Continue up this hilly road for a kilometre or so, until you see a a rickety gate leading onto a cart track to your left. Go through the gate and begin the climb up over the mountain (The Skelp) with its ever more stunning views. Follow the track as it swings left away from the Bay. At the top of the hill, new views open out ahead across extensive bogland.
The way is impeded by sheep wire, cross using the small wooden stile and continue along the grassy track with its splendid views of Croagh Patrick. When it joins a minor road at a T-junction, turn left, walk on for about 3km along the valley until the road swings sharp left beside a small bridge (this is the starting point for Walk 5). Continue along this road to another T-junction. Turn right here and 100m or so brings you back to the starting point.
Owenwee Bog Walk
Take the N59 (Leenane Road) from Westport, go through Knappagh and turn right at the Owenwee sign. Pass the entrance to Brackloon Wood on the right, take the next turn left and continue for about 1.5km. The walk starts at a junction, just before a bridge over the Owenwee River.
Take the road to the right (don’t cross the river). Follow the boreen for 5km or so, as it winds its way through farmland along one side of a broad valley, crossing a number of small streams. Croagh Patrick is the dominating feature of this part of the walk; the back of the mountain draws ever nearer, and the well worn pilgrims path stands out like a wide gash in its side
The road becomes a track with grass growing up the middle and soon, as it enters commercial woodland, there is a gate to the left. You can clearly see your path ahead from this point. Go through this gate, closing it behind you, and after about four hundred metres turn left at a T-junction and continue along the other side of the valley. Less than a kilometre later the road passes through another gate, indicating the end of Coillte owned land.
Now the walk takes you through extensive bogland and gives an ideal opportunity to see turf saving in operation - both by hand and by machine. Stay on the ’main’ road, ignoring any small roads. The road is very open and straight, but does swing fairly sharply left after a small bridge. As you continue, the view opens out in front of attractive small hills and drumlins. The joyful song of the skylark is a regular feature on this walk and the keen eyed may also spot the well camouflaged golden plover on the bog.
The road becomes more enclosed by stone walls and fencing and leads to a T-junction. Turn left and continue on for a short while over the Owenwee River and back to the starting point.
Clew Bay Heritage Centre
Clew Bay Heritage Centre, The Quay
Museum of local history. Full family search service available. Guided walking tours of Westport depart from the Clock at 11.00am on Wednesdays in July & August and at other times by appointment. Tel. 098-26852. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.westportheritage.com
Old Railway Walk from the Quay to Westport Town
This is a beautiful tree-lined 2.5km straight-line walking and cycling trail which links Westport’s town centre with the Quay area.
The Westport Greenway, also known as the old railway walk, follows the route of the old railway line which was used to transport goods to and from the ships at the Quay to the town’s railway station. The route encompass the local skate park, outdoor gym and is a beautiful (free) way to get from one part of the town to the other. It’s provides beautiful views of Croagh Patrick and the surrounding countryside and is also home to a little insect hotel!
The Westport Greenway also connects with the National Coastal Trail, a path which connects Westport Quay with Murrisk and Croagh Patrick.