One Day Walks August 13 thru 15

If you would like to join my guided walks next weekend, but not avail of the B&B and dinner choice, you can simply join our small group as a day walker. Here’s the programme.

Friday August 13 –

Meet at 10 am at the carpark in An Ceathrú Thaidhg for the 3 to 4 hr cliff-top loop. (€20)

And / or

Meet at 3 pm at the car park at Glenlara, on the north end of The Mullet, for the 2 to 2 1/2 hr Erris Head cliff-top loop. (€10)

Take part in both Friday walks for € 20 total.

Saturday August 14 –

Meet at Blacksod pier at 10 am for a boat trip out to and guided walk of Iniskea Island. Pier to pier, this will take 5 to 6 hours. (€ 40)

Sunday August 15 –

Meet at 10 am at Tobar Deirbhile (well) at Falmore at the southern tip of The Mullet peninsula, for a 4 hr loop walk, taking in Glosh, Caisleán beach and Aughleam. (€ 20)

For further details and to book your place, please call 086-8318748.

Advertisements

What To Bring When Hiking

So you’ve glanced through what to wear when out hiking in the wilds of west Mayo, below. But what do you need in your rucksack ?

1. Water – No matter what the weather, you’ll need water. Vary the amount, depending on the warmth, but don’t travel with less than 500 ml, while 1 litre would be better. You can always top up in the mountains, but be smart : the higher up the mountain stream you take water from, the cleaner it is going to be. Also, don’t take water from a still pool – it will have gathered peat dust and worse, while stagnant.

2. Food – Again, no matter how short a walk, do bring some food with you. You never know – you might have a problem (twisted ankle, etc.) up the side of a mountain. If you’re packing some chocolate, or energy bar, etc., go without the wrapper. That way, you won’t lose it in a gust of wind. Bring your food in a re-usable plastic container, with a sound tight lid.

3. Whistle – I never go anywhere without a good, loud whistle, in case of emergency. Wear it around your neck, so you have it in case you become separated from your rucksack.

4. Torch plus spare batteries – Nobody knows when the batteries in a torch are going to run out. Always pack spares and ensure they are dry, by wrapping them in a water-tight bag.

5. Mobile phone – The rule, when out in the hills, is certainly to turn your mobile phone off. But have it with you, in case of emergency. Put it in your pocket, not your bag, for the same reason as mentioned above.

6. First aid supplies – While it would be nice to carry a load of first aid stuff around with you, in practice, it’s really not that practical. But do have the 4 essentials – plasters, for cuts on rocks; elastic crepe bandage, for twisted ankles; Leukosilk tape, for keeping said bandage in place; Medicare cold pack, for treatment of swelling, bruising, etc.

And please remember, bring back home what you brought out with you. Do not leave even the slightest remnants of your passage. You know the Leave No Trace maxim :

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. With two exceptions. First, do take out rubbish that you did not leave there yourself. You’ll feel good about yourself and help the natural environment. Second, do try to watch out for rare flowers, where you’re stepping. Even footprints in the wrong place can damage.

Enjoy and just get out there !

Dates Change – Western Ocean Walking Weekend

Please note the slight change in dates for my next Western Ocean Walking Weekend.

The dates are now from Thursday, August 12, thru Sunday, August 15. Come and enjoy a great weekend of walking on cliff-top walks (much higher than the Cliffs of Moher, by the way), on a stunning once-inhabited island and on lovely beaches and low-lying hills on perhaps Ireland’s most interesting peninsula, The Mullet of NW Mayo.

You can be picked up from and dropped back to Castlebar train station.

Just Get Out There

Last evening’s RTE programme Tracks and Trails was a nice ad for Mayo outdoor and active holiday breaks. It’s a pity, however, that they didn’t cover just a little bit more of the terrain than the Cycleway. And did you notice the ridiculous and unattractive fencing along the track, immediately on both sides ? Not exactly pretty.

Anyway, Mayo has what it takes to pass some wonderful outdoors days. Getting out into the fresh (yes, often wet) air does wonders for your mind and body.

Get Out There in Mayo - Clew Bay & Nephin Beg Mountains

Get Out There in Mayo - Clew Bay & Nephin Beg Mountains

If you’re in the area, join me for a guided walk on waymarked ways, hills, cliff-tops and so on. I will show you a Mayo that is off the beaten track. We’ll venture into the remote Nephin Beg Mountains or skip along high ocean cliffs. The important thing is to get out into our wild spots and breathe in that unique Mayo air.

You’ll enjoy the break and re-charge the batteries.                                                                             

But also, check out these local providers of outdoor pursuits and great Mayo fun.

Saoirse na Mara sea kayaking –

Call Ali and book a day out on Clew Bay.

http://www.irelandwestseakayaking.com/

Electric Escapes electric bike hire –

Call Paul. http://www.electricescapes.ie/

Clew Bay Bike Hire –

Call Travis. http://www.clewbayoutdoors.com/

All Play wind surfing –

Call Cathal. http://www.allplay.ie/

So, whichever activity you fancy, come to west Mayo for your fix of guided or self-guided walking, cycling, sea kayaking, wind surfing and others like horse riding, sailing, sea fishing, etc.

Up the Mountains with Eleven

I had a gas day last week in the Nephin Begs, with a lovely group of 11.

We left our cars at 10.30 am, I in the knowledge that the walk would take somewhere between 6 and 8 hours, but knowing that we had plenty of time, even if it turned out to be longer.

My fastest time doing the circuit in question was 6 hr 20 and even that time I was dawdling, as it was in the middle of Orchid season. I had been stopping every couple of metres to look at specimen. On the other hand, I had once brought a group of okay, but a little slow, walkers and it had taken 8 hr 30.

Anyway, this lovely group did the horseshoe in 8 hr 10. But the fun we had with the weather !

We enjoyed brilliant sunshine and warm winds from the east / southeast, mixed with loud thunder over our heads and accompanying fork lightning. The man with the camera had a classic West of Ireland opportunity to take pictures of a sky entirely black on the one side and clear blue alongside to the west.

We peeled off layers, only to pull them back on five minutes later. This is the great attraction of hill walking in Ireland’s west. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes.

We saw Frogs, Hares, Meadow Pipits, just one singing Skylark, but no Wheatears, Foxes or Grey Herons, which might ordinarily be encountered.

But it was a day to remember for its truly dramatic weather. Clare Island, off to the west, would appear clearly, then disappear entirely soon after. We even had two occasions where the walking had to stop and the group come in close together, as visibility shrunk to 10 metres.

That’s walking in Mayo – brilliant.

Interesting Observations in Nature

Being out and about walking really gives you the chance to observe some interesting things in nature. There is a whole world out there that you may not be aware of and which, if you are willing to dedicate some of your time, can be observed. 

As a rule of thumb, if you want to actually observe nature, as opposed to simply traversing it, spend at least 50% more time doing a walk than the ‘guideline’ completion time. So if you’re on a, say, 3 hour loop walk, take it easy and aim to complete in, maybe, 4 1/2 hours. 

Mother Red Squirrel and Baby 

A while back, in south Mayo, I was unbelievably lucky enough to witness a mother Red Squirrel carrying her young in her mouth. As she was on her way, presumably moving her young from one safe spot to another, she came across me on a forest track. I was crouched down, having heard her approaching through the fern undergrowth. We mutually observed one another for over a minute, until she continued across the track and on her way through the thick vegetation. I decided not to try to pull out the camera, afraid I might spook her. 

Sheep and Fox 

Look at the photos below. I came across this scene near a cliff top in north Mayo. Given that I approached from down wind, the fox did not seem to notice me for several minutes. This beautiful hunter was 2 metres away from the sheep in the picture, with an additional 3 sheep, including one lamb, no more than a further 2 metres away, just out of shot. Eventually, I needed to continue on and was the first to make a move. The sheep and fox then scampered away, but the former didn’t seem in the slightest bothered by the latter’s proximity. 

 

Dead Shrew 

I found the unfortunate dead Pygmy Shrew, below, the other day. Shrews are absolutely tiny, aren’t they ? 

Pygmy Shrew

Pygmy Shrew

  

  

  

 

 

 

Cuckoo 

This year I seem to have heard healthy numbers of Cuckoo. But just last weekend, I saw not one, but two of these difficult to spot birds from Africa. Both were observed on telephone wires, both above bogs next to plantation forests, both during the early afternoon on quite warm days, both in NW Mayo, but in different spots.

A Great Weekend in West Mayo

Last weekend was excellent fun. I led guided walks on The Mullet on Saturday and Sunday, treated myself to the Ceathrú Thaidgh cliff-top walk on Sunday and completed the wonderful Glendahurk Horseshoe in the Nephin Begs on Monday.

You’d never know, but the fabulous weather we’ve been having to date might just as quickly come to a shuddering halt in an Irish summer, so better to take full advantage while it’s going !

Floral highlights of the weekend included the many orchids now in bloom, the strange Ragged Robin, St. Patrick’s Cabbage at 700 m altitude and the stunningly beautiful Common Mallow.

Fauna of the weekend included one Fox, several Hares, fantastically aerobatic Ravens and one solitary Golden Plover. Unfortunately, no Seals were spotted at Erris Head, but you can’t always be lucky.

Erris Head – A guided walk of Erris Head (with another guide, not me) takes place, as part of Féile Erris Beo, on Sunday, June 20th. Contact Erris Tourism, on 097 – 82292.

Ceathrú Thaidgh – I will guide a walk of this cliff-top trail, also as part of Féile Erris Beo, on Thursday, June 17th, beginning at 6 pm. Again, call Erris Tourism, on 097 – 82292.