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.

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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.

Ballycroy National Park

Visitor Centre, Ballycroy National Park.

Visitor Centre, Ballycroy National Park.

Ballycroy National Park has existed for 11 years, pretty much without anybody knowing. However, last month saw the opening of its visitor centre at Ballycroy village, midway between Mulranny and Bangor Erris on the little travelled N59.

Ballycroy is Ireland’s sixth National Park, after Wicklow, Glenveagh, Killarney, Burren and Connemara.

 

Boardwalk through Bog, Ballycroy NP.

Boardwalk through Bog, Ballycroy NP.

The NP has 11,000 hectares of more or less Atlantic blanket bog landscape, with the wonderful Nephin Beg mountain range as its central spine. The Bangor Trail goes in and out of the NP for much of its journey from above Newport to Bangor village.

Animals to be found in the Park include Fox, Badger, Otter, Pine Marten, the invasive Mink, Red Deer and birds, like the White Fronted Goose, Skylark, Merlin and maybe the odd Peregrine Falcon.

The Bangor Trail, which I have walked many times, is a great old highway from northern Mayo down towards Newport and Westport beyond. In days of old, when there was no true road from the Bangor area southwards, this was the only way. Nowadays, it is in mostly poor condition. Some parts are reasonably covered in loose stones and rocks. Much of it is not. The parts which are not are being reclaimed by the bog, particularly the stretches north and south of the bothy / refuge below Corslieve.

To walk the Bangor Trail is a real experience. And that is exactly what I mean – a real experience. It is tough going, but hugely rewarding. Will you get wet ? Definitely.

Visit www.ballycroynationalpark.ie