Our walking tour starts in Galway and takes you on a hiking adventure out to Inishmore, the largest of the world-famous Aran Islands. The Western Way, which follows parts of the Wild Atlantic Way, is a remote walking trail that takes you through the countryside of Connemara. Hiking in a wild place, rich in poetic roots and haunting history, the walking trail offers some of the finest culture and scenery that Ireland has to offer.
Prices / Dates
Price: €611 per person sharing
Single Supplement: +€250
Tour Dates: 1st April to 15th October
Tour Grade: Easy to Moderate
Accommodation: Guesthouse & B&B
Included / Excluded
Arrive at Shannon or Dublin Airport, take a bus or train to your first accommodation in Galway City. Please note, it is not always possible to get accommodation in the city centre, so you may have to stay on the outskirts of the city. Galway City is rich in our traditional culture of the Irish language, music, song and dancing. It is often referred to as the ‘Bilingual Capital of Ireland’. The city is well-known for its ‘Irishness’ and has on its doorstep, the Galway Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area). After settling in you could spend the afternoon and evening exploring this wonderful and lively city.
Take public transport from Galway City to Rossaveal to catch a ferry for the short journey (50 minutes) across the sea to the largest of the three Aran Islands, Inishmore.
The island is approximately twenty-six square kilometres. Inishmore or Inishmór (the big island), with its rich archaeological sites, thousands of kilometres of stone walls built in order to define one’s property as well as to protect the small fields from erosion brought on from the strong winds.
There is a combination of both cliff and coastal walks along stretches of limestone pavements through a community still living the Celtic traditions of generations gone. The thatched roofs of the traditional Irish stone cottages that dot the countryside enhance the rugged natural beauty. Your guesthouse on the island will be in the small fishing village of Kilronan. Among the Island's many unique attractions is the shop selling the famous Aran Sweater. The hand-knitted Aran Sweater originated from this part of Ireland, a tradition passed down from generation to generation, which has now become the ultimate symbol of Irish Clan heritage.
Kilronan was also the church of St. Enda, the saint most closely identified with the spread of Christianity on Aran. After settling into your accommodation, you will have the opportunity to explore the eastern part of the island. Taking in places like Dun Duchathair (the Black Fort), the Puffing Holes, View of Synge’s Chair, remote beaches and the sounds of waves crashing in against the rocks. This is indeed the perfect start to your walking tour of the Aran Islands.
Distance: 10 km / 6 miles, Ascent: 70m / 210 ft, Approximate walking time: 3 / 4 hours
Your second walk takes you to the northern side of the island along small country laneways and green roads to reach the hamlet of Kilmurvey.
Here you will visit Dun Aonghasa, one of the most important and unique prehistoric stone forts to be found in Ireland, dating back approximately 2.500 years. The fort is built on the edge of some high sheer cliff and consists of horse-shoe shaped dry stone walls, the inner one 13 feet thick and up to 18 feet high in places. The views from here are simply magnificent. The trail continues through a desert of limestone rocks that is rich in rare flora during spring and summer, continuing through the townland of Gort na gCapall (The Field of the Horses) and back to Kilronan, where you will have time to do some shopping and sample some of the local spirits in one of the village pubs.
Distance: 18 km / 11 miles, Ascent: 220 m / 660 ft, Approximate walking time: 6 / 7 hours
Today you leave the island on the 08.15 ferry to Rossaveel, where we will have arranged for a taxi to pick you up and transport you to the start of your walk in the townland of Maam. Driving time is approximately 45 minutes.
On the first section of today’s walk, you will pass the site of the famous movie “The Quiet Man” starring John Wayne & Maureen O’ Hara, a John Ford’s classic movie, filmed in 1952. A complete change of scene now awaits you as you start your first day in the Connemara Mountains along the Western Way Trail. You will walk today amidst the splendour of the Mamturk Mountains (The Pass of the Pig). The trail follows an old pilgrim route that rises gently into the mountains, passing St. Patrick’s Church and Holy Well as you travel. It is said that St. Patrick rested in this spot on his way to “Croagh Patrick”, a sacred mountain that you will be passing on your way to Westport.
Continuing on, you will cross the spine of the Mamturk Mountains where you will be rewarded with some fantastic views both back into the Maam Valley and ahead to the “Twelve Bens” mountain range and “The Lough Inagh Valley”.
Distance: 15 km / 9 miles, Ascent: 280 m / 840 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours
Today, you will depart Lough Inagh by walking directly from your accommodation via an old road that dates back hundreds or possibly thousands of years.
The trail flanks the base of the Mamturk Mountains, passing some old ruins settlements as you travel. This area is now completely uninhabited and probably has been since the great famine of 1845. This is one of the most remote parts of the trail that offers you a great sense of peace and harmony. As you start to descend into the village of Leenaun you will have some great views down over Ireland’s only fjord “Killary Fjord”. Glaciers moving off the high mountain over ten thousand years ago moulded this fjord. The glacier cut a trench in the underlying rocks that were subsequently filled by the Atlantic Ocean.
Your day finishes in Leenaun, a village nestling on the shore of Killary Harbour and flanked by the mountains. Leenaun was brought to fame because of the famous John B. Keane play “The Field”, first performed in 1965. It was adapted into a film in 1990 by Jim Sheridan. It tells the story of the hardened farmer “Bull” McCabe and his love for the land he rents.
Distance: 16 km / 10 miles, Ascent: 245 m / 735 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours
After a hearty Irish breakfast, you will depart for home.