Hill Walking from the campsite
Hill Walking, Mountain Hiking, Hill or Mountain Walking or Running, however you want to do it, the choices are endless and the experience is breath-taking. The experience will never leave you and it is one you will recall with awe and wonder many months and years after. The choice is endless in the Connemara region for all levels of fitness and adventure, you decide what you are up for. MountainViews.ie is a fantastic resource of routes and maps and co-ordinates. It’s well worth checking out “Connemara & Mayo – A Walking Guide” written by local walking guide Paul Phelan, another fantastic resource with up to 33 walks in great detail and description.
NB: Hiking alone isn’t ideal but if you are always remember to tell someone when you are going and what time you expect to be back. Always bring a map and compass.
The following is just a sample to give you a taste of what’s close by to the campsite for all levels of fitness and enthusiasm.
Suitable for an experienced hiker with a good level of fitness.
Height: 581m OS 1:50k Mapsheet: 37 Grid Reference: L76253 61704
When you arrive at the campsite, look back at the mountains behind you and the closest peak on your left is Benchoona. It’s the closest mountain walk to the campsite, the starting point is about a 10 minute walk from the campsite entrance. Turn right out of the campsite entrance and walk over the road, around the corner and past a house on your right and another just further on your left, you will come to a small bridge at the end of which you should turn left up a small road, through a gate, which can be opened and closed behind you, keep going up this little windy road until you come to the public water supply tanks, keep going past these until you come to a bridge. Keep left for Benchoona and if you don’t fancy a hike to the top just follow along the river for a beautiful walk into the lower hills. Talk to us at reception if you want further details or directions.
Garraun Complex / Benchoona Horseshoe / Lettergesh Loop
Suitable for an experienced hiker with a good level of fitness.
If you fancy a slightly longer walk to keep enjoying those beautiful views then you can extand your hike from Benchoona to Garraun (598m) with very little change in elevation. Then a fabulous ridge walk west to Binn Fhraoigh (541) m. This is a great spot for a picnic as there’s good shelter from the prevailing winds at the summit. Then you can head back down to the beach at the campsite and cool down your feet from all that climbing, while walking along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed the views from here and the very mountains themselves received a mention in Steve Davey’s BBC Travel “Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die”.
A detailed walking guide is available in “Connemara & Mayo – A Walking Guide” and a local walking guide to accompany you on your hike can be booked via walkconnemara.com. It is a moderately difficult climb which takes approx 2-3 hours for Benchoona on its own and 4.5-5 hours for the complete horseshoe. A steep climb in places and rocky terrain underfoot.
On maps you will see this area referred to as the Garraun Complex and in guidebooks they are referred to as the Benchoona Horseshoe.
The link here to an article in the Irish Times refers to it as the Lettergesh Loop, as it begins and ends in Lettergesh.
Link to Irish Times article
Lower Lettergesh Hills
Suitable for a picnic with the kids.
As above, follow the directions for Benchoona, but instead of attacking the summit just follow along the river for a beautiful walk into the lower hills. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the meandering river. The walk to the water tank can be a little bit steep so a drink of water and some other enticements are a good idea to encourage the smaller kids to keep going.
Tully Mountain, also known as Letter Hill
Short walk suitable for kids. Longer walk requires a good level of fitness.
This is another lovely local walk which has a long and a short option, both of which are a beautiful excursion.
Approx 4km or under two hours for the short version of if you’re feeling like the big hike it’s approx 10.5km and 4-4.5 hours.
Starting point is Derryinver Pier, about a 10 minute drive from the campsite, turn right out of the campsite entrance and head towards Tullycross, turn left in Tullycross and after a few minutes you will come to a right turn for Derryinver Pier, you can park up and leave your car at the Pier.
How to get to the start:
From the pier continue walking west along the road about 500 meters where you will be at the top of the small hill. Turn right off the road at this point. You should see a stile (which is a footstep over the fence) and a gate up to your right.
From this point you will get over onto the shoulder of the mountain to avail of the view north and south simultaneously. Continue straight up the shoulder and up to the top of the mountain within an hour. The walk up is moderately steep so it’s no problem for the average walker and is usually dry under foot.
When you get this first peak you can decide weather to do the full circuit or go back down the way you came up. The advantage of climbing Tully Mountain is that its stuck out on the peninsula. It is the only high vantage point west of the 12 Bens. You can enjoy the full panorama from the 12 Bens, around to Killary, Mweelrea, all the west Mayo coast. Inis Turk, Inis Boffin and you can actually see the Aran Islands on an average day.
From the top of the first continue west in the direction of the next peak, and the 2 peaks after that.
Keeping both little lakes on your right hand side, then down the valley on the west side of Tully mountain in the direction of the sea cliffs in the distance until you meet a large stone wall near the bottom of the mountain. Turn left and follow the wall around rising above any heavy growth that might be in your way (summertime) until you meet the end of the road on the south side of the mountain. Continue down the south side of the mountain until you meet the road. Follow the road east back to the pier. This is a great spot for a picnic is just after you hit the stone wall coming off the mountain.
Suitable for experienced hikers.
Difficulty: 9-10, Distance: 8kms, Height: 800+ metres, Time: 5 hours
The highest point in the Connaught Province. This is a difficult climb and one for experienced hikers due to poor visibility in bad weather and dangerous cliffs. There are a few different starting points, one of which is detailed here starting at Silverstrand near Louisburgh.
MountainViews.ie has details of a few access/starting points including Doo Lough or Delphi Adventure Center
How to get to Silver Strand starting point.
From the campsite turn left out of the entrance and head towards Leenane, just past Leenane village take a left turn for Louisburgh passing Aashleagh falls..
Continue straight for 17kms and turn left at Cregganbaun post office and continue straight for five kms. At Killeen church, turn right and proceed 500 meters where you turn left and continue straight for 9kms where you will find yourself at the Silverstrand. Park at the beach carpark. Walk back up the road 500metres to an elbow in the road where the road goes left and there’s a gravel path straight ahead. This is the access point to the mountain. From here there is 2 kilometre walk straight east along the river valley, aiming for Deery on the map and staying north of the main river at all times. You will need your map to navigate your way.
Connemara National Park
Suitable for all levels, various levels of difficulty to choose from.
This is a guided path walk with firm terrain all the way to the top of Diamond Hill. There are many options depending on how long you want to walk for. There are 3 guided loops to choose from, starting at 1.5km, 3km and 6.7km loops, all beautiful and well worth doing. It’s a fabulous family activity as you guide, encourage and push each other to the beautiful summit at the top. It’s worth the hike for the views, the last bit is a bit steep but wow when you get there the views of the Renvyle Penninsula, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding National Park make it worth the sweat.
Suitable for all levels and great for toddlers because there are no cars.
This is a beautiful place for a stroll on flat terrain. It’s a stroll because you are surrounded by such beauty and nature and just sheer serenity you won’t want to do anything but stroll and take it all in.