Get Out & About 2010

Together with Lough Lannagh Lodge holiday accommodation here in Castlebar, I am offering two days of lovely winter walking around west Mayo, for the weekend of January 15, 2010.

This is all about getting ready for a great 2010, letting the power of winter’s natural world blow away your 2009 cobwebs. This is about being exhilarated by nature and preparing for a new year.

Friday : Arrive in Lough Lannagh for dinner at 8 pm and an orientation presentation on what we will be doing over the weekend. A quiet drink in one of the town’s best pubs.

Saturday : Four hours gentle walking around Moore Hall, a ruined ‘big house’ and the adjoining Lough Carra, a gem among the many lakes of County Mayo. This is a wonderfully tranquil and serene place in the middle of the Plains of Mayo.

Sunday : Four hours walk on The Bangor Trail, surely Ireland’s most remote and isolated waymarked way. This trail brings us in to the very heart of rural, wet, wild and mountainous west Mayo. The place is a pure joy, perhaps even more so in winter, where we experience the trail in its full grandeur, battered by the North Atlantic weather, its wind and rain.

The weekend includes 2 x Bed and Breakfast in twin rooms (single supplement applies), 2 x dinners, 2 x packed lunches and a whole lot of outdoor fun. Drinks are not included.

Full use of Lough Lannagh’s gym, sauna and steam room are also included. A drying room is also freely available.

Itinerary : Just arrive at Castlebar by 8 pm on Friday, to enjoy the dinner. Departure is around 4 pm on Sunday.

What to bring : Raingear, to include waterproof jacket and waterproof ankle hiking boots. Changes of clothing. Lots of enthusiasm and a love for the outdoors.

Price : Euro 199 per person sharing, or Euro 219 single supplement.

Places are limited, so to reserve yours, please call me on 094 – 9027797, or 086 – 8318748, or e-mail me on info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.

Just come walking !

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Lough Carra, County Mayo

 

Lough Carra

Lough Carra

Lough Carra is a 1,500 hectare marl / limestone lake, located around 16 km straight south from Castlebar. On its eastern shore lies the ruined Moore Hall, home now to an important population of Lesser Horseshoe Bats.

While the land around Moore Hall is now owned by Coillte, and therefore unfortunately mostly planted with non-native conifers, nevertheless, the area is a pleasant one for walking and is particularly child-friendly, being pretty much flat all around.

Indeed, the on-site car park has recently been tarred, which is no harm either when you have the children along.

You’ll be tempted to walk inwards and away from the lake, along the path which completes a circle around the ruins of the big house. This is a nice walk and you can divert into the middle of the circle to view the house. But I’d rather you turned around at the car park and faced the lake. Walk to the right, across a small bridge on the narrow road and then turn immediately left, over a stile and continue in through this largely broadleaf wood, down to the lake shore. It’s nicer.

For more information on Lough Carra, a truly beautiful spot in Mayo, look here, at a website largely developed by Chris and Linda Huxley, who live down there.

Some Places to Visit in Ireland’s West

If you’re living in or visiting Ireland’s West, you might like to consider some of these places for a nice walk or some fun out with the family :

1. Moore Hall, near Carnacon, south County Mayo.

Ruined “big house” plus surrounding forests – much of it planted conifers, but also quite a bit of native broadleaves. Nice walks around Lough Carra.

2. Lough Key Forest Park, near Boyle, north Co. Roscommon.

Okay, there’s the paying part, but there is also loads to do without parting with your cash. Kilometres of forest walks, most of it through native and non-native broadleaves, parts also through conifers. Lakeside walks. Feed the swans and ducks. Look at the passing cruisers, etc.

3. The Suck Valley Way, Athleague, south Co. Roscommon.

Head for the lovely Visitor Centre in a former church. Walk along the bank of the River Suck as far as Castlestrange and its La Tene Stone. If you’re up to it, continue to the quaint and pretty riverside village of Castlecoote.

4. Mountbellew Demesne, Mountbellew, north Co. Galway.

Very large and dense conifer plantation has good walks. See its old forge. If you’re lucky, you might spot some deer, or test your skills in finding their footprints.

5. Arigna Mining Experience, near Drumshanbo, mid Co. Leitrim.

Perhaps Ireland’s best paying tourist attraction (in my humble opinion). Visit the old coal mine, guided by the actual miners themselves. If I remember correctly, mining ceased circa 1990 and the guys themselves now bring visitors around. When they’ve retired in the future, I doubt if the experience will ever be the same, so get there soon.

6. Old Head Wood, beyond Westport, west Co. Mayo.

Forget the beach (as pleasant as it is). Walk beyond the beach and discover the amazing, though small, Old Head Wood. Walk through it at a slow pace and take in this tiny piece of old Atlantic Wood. Then exit the far side and walk along the cliff top fields, until you get a clear view of the great Atlantic Ocean and Clare Island in front of you. Spot the Cormorants, Seals, Dolphins, etc. Take note of the poor trees, bent over at 90 degrees eastwards from the fierce and unrelenting Atlantic winds.