Aran Islands & Western Way – 8 Days – Self-Guided Walking Tour

Aran Islands & Western Way Independent Walking Tour 8 Days

Your 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 leads you through the wild countryside of Connemara and Mayo. Walking in this unique place, rich in poetic roots and haunting history,  the walking trail also offers some of the finest scenery that Ireland has to offer.

Prices / Dates

Price:  €677 per person sharing

Single Supplement: +€350

Tour Dates: 1st April to 15th October

Tour Grade: Easy to Moderate

Accommodation: Guesthouse & B&B

Included / Excluded

Arrive at Shannon or Dublin Airport and take a bus or train to your first accommodation in Galway City. Please note that 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.
Please Note: Bus and Ferry tickets are not included in the tour cost, but we can prebook them for you if you require

The island is approximately twenty-six square kilometres. Inishmore or Inishmór (the big island) is rich with archaeological sites and thousands of kilometres of stone walls which were built in order to define one’s property as well as to protect the small fields from erosion brought on from the strong Atlantic 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 accommodation 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 week.

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: 5 / 6 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 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 movie “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: 14 km / 9 miles, Ascent: 85 m / 255 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours

Today’s trail takes you northeast from Leenaun to the head of Killary Fjord and across the county border into Mayo. Here you will have an option to take a short detour to visit the famous Aasleagh Falls, where the picturesque salmon-rich Erriff River cascades down to meet the inlet of Killary. The falls can be very impressive, especially after heavy rainfall. You may also be lucky enough to see the salmon leap as they travel upstream to spawn. The route takes you through wild boglands and sparse forests. You will cross the Sheeffry Hills from where you can enjoy wonderful views of the Erriff Valley and pass Sheeffry Bridge, an old humpbacked structure. Your day finishes in the quiet hamlet of Drummin, where you can relax over a pint of your favourite tipple.

Distance: 15 km / 9 miles, Ascent: 200 m / 600 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours

On the final day of your walking vacation in Ireland, you will walk in the shadow of Ireland’s Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. This mountain is a spectacular sight and many pilgrims from around the world come to climb it every year, many barefoot or on their knees. It is believed that Saint Patrick fasted here for 40 days and 40 nights. The mountain was crucial to his campaign to convert Celtic people to Christianity.

You will be transported to the start of your walk. Following a small country road, the trail leads you to the wild and beautiful townlands of Bartaglanna and Glencally. Here you will have the option to take a detour to climb to the summit of Croagh Patrick or continue along the Western Way into the picturesque, yet lively, town of Westport with many colourful shops, restaurants and pubs.

Distance: 23 km / 14 miles, Ascent: 420 m / 1260 ft, Approximate walking time: 6 / 7 hours

After a hearty Irish breakfast, you will depart for home.

A few words from our customers...

Wonderful landscape If you want to discover parts of Ireland landscape slowly by walking, this company is really good. With my girlfriend, we did the self-guided tour of the Aran Islands and the Western Way (8 days) in June! Everything was well organized, all transfer of luggage worked well, taxi transfer were on time. Accommodations were all nice and owners very friendly. The road itself was quite well described in the notes given by Footfalls. Some discrepancies sometimes, but nothing important. I'd recommend to take two pairs of walking shoes, as some part of the way can be quite wet! We did it and being able to have dry shoes in the morning is really a plus!
Sebastien
Switzerland
On our first visit to Ireland, this older couple needed some help planning a successful experience. We wanted to avoid the limits of an organized tour group and explore places off the beaten track. What good fortune to have found Footfalls! Christopher and Teresa concentrate on Ireland and are not distracted by international travel. Besides the usual arrangements - B & B reservations and luggage transport - they incorporated our wishes, such as arranging for an extra night in Westport at the end of the walk. They even recommended a place to stay in Dublin when we arrived in Ireland, although that was not a part of the regular tour. Overall a very satisfying experience, with an opportunity to get acquainted with the land and the people.
Bernadette & Tommy
USA