This time it’s Ireland! The west, more precisely the Connemara region, should be it, started at Galway and then, after a small detour to Inis Mor (an island of the Aran Islands), further north via Oughterard, Maam Valley, Lough Inagh, Leenane, and Drummin to Westport.
On this hike Benno accompanied me and how we liked the way, which obstacles we had to overcome and which great people we met you can find out when you read my travel report 😉 Also you can find out what I will never do again!
General information about the hike “Ireland / West Connemara”
Like my hike on the West Highland Way, this hike was planned by Hillwalk Tours. Hillwalk Tours is unbeatable for me in supporting my planning. One has a fixed contact person, who is still friendly and helpful even with the twentieth demand, the prices are usual in the market, the documents and cards are super and with every mail and every telephone call the anticipation increases on the coming vacation.
And no, I don’t get any money or benefits from Hillwalk Tours for those benevolent words, I’m just an enthusiastic customer. To be fair I have to say that I do not have any experience with other providers for self guided hikes, so I can not draw any comparisons.
First place and for us also starting point of the tour is Galway at the west coast of Ireland. The actual hike starts on the island of Inis Mór (Aran Islands) with its wild coastal landscape, the “Wormhole“, 80 meter high cliffs and a fascinating ring fort Dún Aonghasa. The mainland section then follows the southern part of the Western Way. It leads from the fishing village of Oughterard along the western side of Lough Corrib, the second largest lake in Ireland.
The path winds northwest into the “wilderness” with forests, mountains and moorland before leading to Maam Valley where “civilization” catches up again. From Maam Valley, the route crosses the rugged mountains of the Maumturk Mountains on a pass. The descent into the breathtaking Inagh Valley then leads past the so-called Twelve Bens until you reach the shore of Killary Harbour Fjord – Ireland’s only fjord – and the picturesque village of Leenane.
After Leenane we leave the county Galway and enter the wild landscape of the county Mayo. The hike ends in the small picturesque town of Westport.
Terrain and path character
The trail follows forest and moorland paths, cliff and mountain paths, old miners’ paths, wide moorland and heathland landscapes and quiet country roads. After longer periods of rain it can get a little muddy on some sections of the track and some downhill sections can be rugged and remote.
The ascent height over the entire route is approximately 5000 metres and includes a series of steep but short ascents. The only longer ascent is on the mountain section between Glengariff and Adrigole, where the path reaches its highest point of 560 metres.
Day 1: Arrival and Galway
Our flight from Hamburg Airport at 10:25 am with Aer Lingus arrived in Dublin on time and without any problems. After we had orientated ourselves briefly, we got ourselves Prepay SIM cards for the Smartphones. Meteor (meanwhile Eir) was the cheapest in this case with telephony flat and 15 GB LTE for 20€.
Then we took the bus 747 from Dublin Bus to Heuston Station in downtown Dublin. Arriving at the station we had snacks and for us at that time incredibly expensive canned beer (culture shock!) for the train ride to Galway. Since we still had time we drank directly our first Guinness of the vacation in the Galway Hooker Bar in the station. If we’d known what Galway Hooker tastes like back then, we wouldn’t have drunk Guinness 😉
At half past three we went with Irish Rail to Galway. The journey takes about 2 1/2 hours and the train was punctual to the minute – the Deutsche Bahn – Germany’s dirty little inefficient secret – can cut itself a thick slice of. So driving a train is fun, you have enough space, when reserving a seat your own name is displayed instead of a number and the snack car looks like Harry Potter – similar to my England, Scotland and Wales tour, where I have already drawn this comparison.
Arriving in Galway we first made our way to our B&B. Since we wouldn’t be translating to Inishmore that day, Hillwalk Tours had booked a B&B directly in Galway. The Petra House B&B is a beautifully situated, cosy house run by friendly people. It is about 10 minutes walk from the shopping and party mile. Thus it is ideal for a stay in Galway if you want to have your rest at night but still don’t want to have it far into the city centre.
Shortly the suitcases thrown off and with the hosts a tea drunk and then it started also already to explore the city. The Corrib, which flows directly through the city centre of Galway, provides my beloved water rush and flows into the North Atlantic in the harbour of Galway.
Galway inspired me at first sight! Many streets and alleys with cafes, bars, restaurants and small shops paired with a lot of live music and the flair of a small harbour town – for me as a Hamburger always friendly 😉
The confluence of a small tributary or watercourse into the Corrib in connection with the Guinness in Dublin woke up my creative vein, which I first lived out in Germany with Photoshop. But the thought of it was there immediately…Guinness himself unfortunately didn’t say anything to the picture when I posted it to you on Facebook 😉
We ate very well at Kings Head and drank a beer or two here and there. But as the day was exhausting enough we went back to the B&B soon, because the next day we had to get our ferry early to transfer to the biggest island of the Aran Islands – Inishmore. There we should spend the next two days exploring the island.
How we survived the crossing and how we liked it on Inishmore you can read on the next page.