Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Greenway, Mayo.

My dad wanted to do something different.  My sister, at the end of an adventure around Europe finished up in Dublin with a significantly lighter wallet, wanted to do something else before heading back to London.  It was the end of August and I was eager to make the most of the last days of summer so I suggested The Greenway.
We packed small backpacks with a change of clothes and blister plasters and took the train to Westport to commence the 42km walk to Achill.


After an overnight in Westport and a belly full of the Full Irish we started in earnest.  It was hoods up as soon as we left the hotel.  With a cheery acceptance that we may have hoods up the whole time we walked through the town to start the trail.  On our first day, Friday,   on the Westport to Newport leg we literally did not bump into anyone else on the path.   We didn't met any other walkers on the path at all and from day two  anyone else we encountered was cycling. More than a few commented on our craziness for walking and not cycling; "It's much quicker" the cyclists laughed as they sped past.  But surely that wasn't the point?
We stayed overnight in Newport and eager to replace the lost calories of the day we had dinner and fantastic pints of Guinness in the Grainne Uaile but the best part was the ridiculously fantastic Pear and Almond tart that I have since tried but failed to replicate.

After Full Irish number two we were on our way again for the second leg, Newport to Mulranny. It was Saturday the sun was shining and the Way was busy.  Families, groups and singular cyclist rang their bells around us. After taking one or two diversions off the path we walked an epic 24km.  Our arrival in Mulranny Park Hotel was silent and tired.  I went straight to the jacuzzi, the other two didn't make it past the front bar. Dinner that night in the beautiful dining room overlooking Clew Bay was spectacular. The sleep that followed was deep and still.

With blister plasters applied day three the final leg, Mulranny to Achill began after yet another porkathon in the breakfast room. I won't lie the final leg was difficult.  We stopped for tea and porter cake along the way. Luckily we didn't see the rain began until our final approach to Achill.

The walk down into the town and across the bridge seemed never ended.  The wind howling in off the Atlantic was almost too strong to walk against.  As we stopped to catch our breath we watched a boat come into harbour with a broken mast being held up my about five men. Could the wind really have done that we wondered as we inched over the bridge.

After about seventeen hours walking over three days it was disconcerting to get into the car and be driven back to Westport in a little over sixty minutes.  As the Way became visible from the road at intervals we relived our moments as we hurtled past.  Our walk seemed so epic and I guess it was.  With just a change of clothes, the freedom of  being outdoors, the free flow of easy conversation and silence, the juicy blackberries dotted through the hedgerows and the polite greetings from fellow travellers we all felt suitably intrepid.

One foot in front of the other was the only way to get there.


  1. What a great account of the walk! We drove past the Greenway a few times during our visit to Westport last August and talked about cycling it, or perhaps walking a portion of it, but we ran out of time. Hats off to you and your fellow hikers, Niamh!

  2. Thanks Pat, the blisters were well worth it!


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