10HD – A Full Day Out in West Mayo

Just four weeks to go to a lovely Ten Hour Day out in wild west Mayo.

Join us at Newport on Saturday June 26th for a 90-minutes cycle into the hills, then a 6-hour hike up Nephin Beg mountain, then a 90-minute cycle back to Newport. This is NOT a race. This is NOT a competitive event. It’s a day out in fabulous country, with great views over lakes, mountains, bog and out to the coast, with Achill, Blacksod and the Reek in the distance.

If you like your outdoors, take a look at the event poster, by clicking below, to learn more.

10HD poster

Two Projects for 2010

1. Gunnera T. / Giant Rhubarb

Gunnera tinctoria (Giant Rhubarb)

Gunnera tinctoria (Giant Rhubarb)

Gunnera Tinctoria continues to spread through certain parts of west Mayo, including Achill Island and the southern end of The Mullet peninsula.

Better known as Giant Rhubarb, this is a highly invasive introduced plant species from South America.

A project has been run by UCD, led by Spaniard Cristina Armstrong, the aim of which is to eradicate the plant from Clare Island. I attended a presentation she put on last year about the scale of the problem and the project’s progress. However, its spread is much greater on Achill and The Mullet. It is very prevalent around Blacksod (especially the Garda station) and is creeping over the hill towards Deirbhle’s Twist and up Termon Hill too.

Read this from The Botanic Gardens website.

I want to get involved in curbing its growth in 2010 and beyond. For this, I’ll need equipment but, more importantly, manpower. Get in touch with me if you’d like to spend a voluntary week on this work during late summer. If you don’t want to do the dirty work, but would be willing to sponsor the purchase of some equipment, or even provide materials as required, get in touch too please. I would be more than happy to acknowledge any contribution, whether monetary or of materials.

2. Inland Otter Observation

Otter (madra uisce)

Otter (madra uisce)

I’m fascinated by the otter. I think the animal is really one of our most interesting mammals. While those that live near the sea (for example, along brackish water lakes) have food from both fresh and sea water to fill their stomachs, those who live exclusively inland would appear not to have such choice. Why don’t they move to the coast (joking) ?

By the way, sometimes people erroneously believe we have two sub-species of otter – the ‘Sea Otter’ and the ‘Freshwater’. In fact, it’s the same animal in two habitats.

Otter spraint beside small river

Otter spraint beside small river

A chance encounter a few months back with two otters in a conifer plantation drainage ditch, no more than 1 m wide with water no more than 15 cm deep, has me even more intrigued. The nearest stream of consequence was 500 m away, with a reasonable sized river 1 km off. I want to ‘stake out’ some such locations in Mayo this year and learn more. If you would like to join me on one such excursion, get in contact. If you are an ‘otter expert’ or student of this wonderful creature, even better.

Cycleway from Newport to Mulranny

I took a trip out yesterday to check on the progress of the cycleway / walkway from Newport to Mulranny that is currently under construction. The route follows the old Achill railway line for the most part, with only very short stretches not on the disused line.

Its total length is something like 18 km, with hopes that it can be further developed in both directions in the years to come, forward towards Achill and back towards Westport.

The track will be a truly great additon to Mayo’s tourism offer.

The track will take us through the Atlantic blanket bogs of West Mayo, affording stunning views of both Clew Bay’s many little quiet inlets to the West and The Nephin Beg mountains and its lakes to the East. The first stage of the track ends just beyond Mulranny village, at the junction between the roads to Ballycroy and to Achill.

Here are just some photos I took yesterday to give you an idea of what this wonderful new amenity will offer. I’ll be walking its full length before the end of the year and will add new photos here as I do so.

Mayo Adventure 2010

I’m in the middle of planning a new event for 2010. By taking advantage of the new cycleway / walkway between Newport and Mulranny (referred to in a recent posting below) and the bicycles available from my accommodation partner, Hannah at Léim Siar in Blacksod, I’m creating a 5 to 7-day walking and cycling tour of Mayo, which will almost entirely be off-road.

Indeed, even the roads which must be taken will only be minor roads, with extremely little traffic anyway.

Mayo is just a great place for walking and cycling. The northern half of the county is traversed by both The Bangor Trail and The Western Way, with large tracts of both off-road. Then we have the little travelled routes of the western part of the county, around Ballycroy, which have almost no traffic and offer great views of the Atlantic to the west and the Nephin Begs to the east.

Then we have The Mullet peninsula. There’s not much traffic there either and it can boast truly wonderful beaches and views in all directions, including south over the high cliffs of Achill’s Slievemore mountain.

More on this tour later. It will combine cycling and walking, as always at a leisurely pace. We’re not in the racing business.

Email me or post a comment if you’d like to be kept up to date with this new tour for 2010 – The Mayo Adventure.

New Cycle and Walkway in Mayo

When I came home to Ireland in 1996 and installed myself in Westport at the time, I was amazed to find the old railway spur from Westport to Achill Sound lying disused.

Well, 14 years later, at last, the section from Newport to Mulranny is to be opened in early 2010 as a superb cycle and walking route.

Named the “Great Western Way”, this off-road track will be a 17.5 km peaceful, safe and truly beautiful route for walking and cycling. The track will, of course, retain old railway bridges and retention walls, which are really attractive features. At certain points along the way, there are wonderful views out over Clew Bay, to the West, as well as into the Nephin Beg mountain range, to the East. I know this, because I’ve walked it on more than one occasion.

The potential is clearly there to extend this route in the future, in both directions, on to Achill and Westport. What a pity it is that this wasn’t undertaken long ago – because several sections of the railway were lost to building in the 1990s, most particularly coming out of Westport and at the northern end of Newport village. Still, it’s better late than never and I, for one, will certainly be leading groups along it in 2010.

Looking forward to that. Great stuff.