The most popular section of the Western Way walking trail is the 102km route which starts from Oughterard in County Galway and finishes in Westport in County Mayo. The hiking trail provides walkers with breath-taking scenery, quiet wilderness and charming villages as they hike through the rugged Connemara region in the west of Ireland.
You start the Western Way in the famous angler’s town of Oughterard near the shores of Lough Corrib. The trail follows the western shoreline of the lough, the second largest lake in Ireland, while heading northwards into a magnificent wilderness of mountain and bog. Keep your eye out for the numerous wildlife to be seen around the Corrib lake such as hawks, otters, mink, stoat, frogs, and bats and catch a glimpse of fishermen looking to catch freshwater trout and salmon. After the bog and wilderness you will start to reach civilisation again at the village of Maum. It was from here that the Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo planned the modern roads of Connemara in the early 19th century.
From Maum, the Western Way trail starts to cross the rugged Maumturk Mountains via a pass, at the top of which is Mam Éan, a holy place that has attracted pilgrims since the early Christian period. The trail then starts to descend into the stunning Inagh Valley where the route passes between the Twelve Bens and the Maumturks mountain ranges. This part of the trail, which was once a well populated area by cottiers only to be left devastated by the Great Famine is considered to be a somewhat sad part of the Western Way due to it’s remembrance. After having past through, you start to reach the shores of Killary Harbour and the picturesque village of Leenaun (also known as Leenane) which was one of the main locations used for the epic film ‘The Field‘.
The name, Leenaun, which is nestled at the foot of the Maumturk mountains, means ‘the shallow sea bed’, which is somewhat ironic as it sits at the head of the Killary fjord, and fjords are renowned for their depth. After Leenaun, and before the the trail leaves County Galway, you will pass the Erriff River and the picturesque Aasleagh Falls which can be spectacular when there is a flood on the river. In addition, the river is renowned for its salmon fishery, so it’s common to see fishermen at the falls. After this point, the Western Way passes between The Devilsmother mountain to the south and the imposing Ben Gorm mountain to the North West and enters a rugged landscape of mountain, bog and lakes in County Mayo.
The trail brings you through the Sheeffry Mountains which mean ‘the Hills of the Wraiths’ (or ghosts/spectres) and you frequently enjoy views of the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick or ‘The Reek’ as it’s otherwise known. Many people often choose to take a day out of walking the Western Way in order to climb to the summit (measuring 765 metres) of the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick which is a pilgrim path visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. Towards the end of the Western Way route, the trail gives you breathtaking views over Clew Bay before you reach the vibrant town of Westport, where you will complete the Western Way trail.
The terrain of the Western Way consists of quiet roads, bog roads, open moorland, forestry tracks, mountain paths and about 3km of timber bog bridge. There is on average about 55% off road walking and 45% asphalt walking, with the trail itself being very well waymarked. Please note that some parts of the route can be very wet and boggy, particularly after a rainy period, when there is a fast run-off from the Connemara mountains, so wear appropriate gear for hiking.
|Hiking Trail:||The Western Way|
|Estimated time:||4 days|
55% Off Road
Galway City - Oughterard:
The Western Way Gallery
Leave No Trace
Please respect the countryside code when out walking. Visit Galway encourage walkers to follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles when walking. Please take a look at the Leave No Trace brochure below.