Our North Mayo Bucket List……
There is no other way of putting this other than, we love where we live. It is our firm belief, and we have evidence! that the Northern Region of County Mayo is one of Irelands hidden gems. It is wild and rugged and unspoilt. Bring your sense of adventure or as one of our great poets Patrick Kavanagh put it, your sense of ‘awe and wonder’, armed with that you are going to have a very special stay.
Walking the Wild Atlantic Way
Benwee Head - An Bhinn Bhuí - The Yellow Peak.
I can’t believe Benwee Head isn’t more famous. The day we finally saw it, it took our breath away. It is like a movie set but real. It is approximately a fifty-minute drive from Mount Falcon and there are two routes to reach it. We would recommend going inland via Crosmolina to get there and then return via Ballycastle on the wild Atlantic Way. At times you will find yourself in true wilderness, enjoy it all.
The final road that leads to Benwee Head is the most unassuming narrow bog road. You might even wonder if you’re in the right place but then, as you journey over the brow of a small hill, the most beautiful vista reveals itself. Sky meets the ocean punctuated by the jagged 4 Stags of the Broadhaven islands. Once here you have the option of doing the Benwee Loop Walk, which takes in some of the most thrilling coastal scenery in Ireland.
And if you have gone this far you should make a day of it. Next door to Benwee Head is our favourite beach in North Mayo, Rinroe Beach or Trá na Rinne Rua (The Red Beach) in irish. This is in fact a Gaeltacht region (irish speaking) and you’ll understand why it was given its irish name when the sun sets on the sea caves that flank the northern aspect of the beach. These sea caves are wonderful to explore and can be accessed by foot when the tide is out, but I would certainly recommend booking a guided sea tour with @erriskayak to explore them when the tide is in. And when your soul is full, but your body starts to feel empty we recommend you pop into Tigh Chonghóile’s bar. Tell Lorraine Mount Falcon sent you and she’ll be extra nice! If you contact them ahead of time (086 072 6926) you can order some homemade soup and sandwiches or indeed her mothers famous boxty. On a clear day this pub has one the best views in Ireland. This is real Mayo.
Three other walking trails in North Mayo we can’t recommend highly enough.
Portacloy Loop Walk.
The views from this trail are something else. Truly memorable. This trail also leads you to the Éire 63 sign which is a unique part of Irish history from the second world war etched into a Mayo Mountain. Depending on how the wind is blowing this can be a bracing walk. The day we did it we had seven children in tow, and they truly worked up an appetite, so we brought them to Chonghóilí’s Bar for soup and sandwiches and of course the obligatory Irish bag of tayto’s!
The beach at the start of this trail has become quite famous so if the sun is shining it is the perfect place to relax and swim after your walk.
Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail.
This is a beautiful, raised boardwalk trail situated in Wild Nephin National Park. It is 2.5km from the carpark to the sea and then the same back, although if the tide is out you can return by the shore. This is a unique setting as you get to experience a view of the mountains running into the sea with a vista of unspoilt bogland in between. If you have young children this is a particularly great walk as it’s flat, not too long and you can bring your scooters. I would highly recommend this walk if you are heading to Achill for the day or bringing the children to the Achill Aquarium. It is also very close to the beautiful town of Mulranny, which boasts another stunning walk in the centre of the town which is definitely worth seeing. Mulranny is also the home of the Old Irish Goat Centre, which our children love.
And now for our favourite Trail, The Erris Head Loop Walk. Why is this our favourite walk? I’m not entirely sure, perhaps it is how the walk reveals itself slowly. It starts off so calmly, then leads you through flat bogland where you can experience the unique smells, rising moisture and sounds that are unique to blanket bogs, then leads you to sheer cliff faces and finally a view of the stags of Broadhaven and the Atlantic Ocean which is unrivalled. Or perhaps the sun just shone particularly nicely the day we were there, but it certainly cast a spell on us. We followed this walk up with a bracing swim in the Belmullet Tidal Pool and a lovely lunch in the Western Strand Hotel in the heart of Belmullet. The Talbot Hotel is another great place to eat if you’re in Belmullet Town, particularly their fresh Crab Claw Bowl.