Day 1: Transfer from Dublin at 1.00pm to our guest house in Co Galway, which is situated just outside the town of Oughterard, better known as the Gateway to Connemara. After settling in to our accommodation we will do a short walk along one of the old Bog Roads that take us out into the countryside and down to the banks of Lough Corrib. After dinner we will have a briefing on the weeks activities and then it's into Oughterard to sample some good old traditional Irish music in one of it's many pubs.
Day 2: Our first walk on the Western Way takes you along the banks of one of Ireland longest lake, Lough Corrib, a world-renowned fishing Lough for freshwater trout and salmon. It is said that Lough Corrib has an island for every day of the year, so as we stroll along you will have a chance to count them. The first section of this walk is on a narrow country road that eventually guides us into a plantation of Silver Birch and conifers. Over the Owenree River and onto an area of open moorland, it is this wilderness area that will give you your first great sense of remoteness. Wild flowers like, Sundew, Butterwort, Bog Asphodel and many more wild species grow in abundance here. The trail eventually leads us onto an old bog road that is only used today by the local people, mainly for the harvesting of peat and to take the sheep to and from the mountains. Our day finishes with some well-earned refreshments in Keane's Bar in the village of Maam and it is in this valley that we will spend the nigh. Distance: 14km, 8.75 miles, Ascent: 80m 225ft.
Day 3: The first part of the day will take us to the scene where some of the 1952 film "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was made. Before you visit Connemara, whether it is with us, on your own or with another company, we recommend that you watch this film beforehand. After a quick tour of what remains of the Quiet Mans Cottage we will be on our way. Following an ancient pilgrim's trail that takes us into the Maumturk Mountains and up to a sacred place called Maumeen. Today it is a place of pilgrimage and the site of a small church, a holy well and a statue of St. Patrick. As we advance further west into the Maumturks the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding countryside of Connemara starts to unfold before our eyes as we look out over the impressive peaks of the Twelve Bens, Galway Bay, Lough Inagh and much more. The trail takes us down into the Inagh Valley where we will be picked up and taken to our accommodation in Kylemore, which will be our base for the next three nights. Distance: 15km, 9 miles, Ascent: 340m, 1020ft.
Day 4: Today we return back to the Inagh Valley, where we will follow an old Coach Road Northwest along a broad flat valley that is flanked by two great mountain ranges, the Twelve Bens and the Maumturks. Dotted along this section or the trail is the remains of some old ruined farm dwellings, the outline of the small fields and cultivated ridges, a stark reminder of the Great Famine of 1845 to 1849. Leaving the valley behind out trail takes us through a conifer plantation, out onto open moorland on the northwestern slopes on the Maumturks. From here we will have some extensive views across Killary Harbor, Ireland's only fjord, definitely a spot for the enthusiastic photographer. Our walk finishes in the quaint village of Leenaun where, you will have the chance to get in some shopping, explore the local pubs or just sit and relax for a while. Distance: 14km. 8.75 miles, Ascent: 150m, 450ft.
Day 5: We will swap our walk on the Western Way today for a visit to Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens. Nestled at the base of Duchruach Mountain on the shore of Lough Pollacappul, the Abbey is regarded as one of Ireland's most romantic buildings. Built by Mitchell Henry, a surgeon practicing in London, for his young bride, Margaret Vaughan, in the 1860's as a country home. Today the Abbey is the home of the Irish Benedictine Nuns and a renowned international girls' boarding school. Among the many attractions that we will visit while we are at the Abbey, is the Victorian Walled Garden, Neo-gothic Church, Souvenir and Coffee Shop. Distance: approximately 10km, 6 miles, ascent, little or none.
Day 6: Its back on the Western Way today, but before we start our walk we will take a short visit the famous Aasleagh Falls, that thunders down from the Erriff River into the estuary of Killary Fjord. It was also in this area of Connemara that the film "The Field" adapted from a play by John B. Keane was filmed. Our walk starts in the Erriff Valley at Houston's Bridge and takes us gently down into Loughan Forest, over the Owenduff River and along by the banks of Derrintin and Tawnyard Lough. Coming out at the base of Ben Gorm where, we will have stunning views back into the valley and up into the Sheeffry Hills. Our walk continues along a narrow country road, through a panorama of green pastures to the quiet village of Liscarney, ending our walk in Breslin's Bar. Distance: 12km, 7.5 miles, Ascent 140m, 420ft.
Day 7: The final walk of the week takes us to the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick. It is said that St. Patrick fast on this mountain for 40 days and 40 nights in 441. Since this time the custom of walking the mountain in prayer has been handed down from generation to generation to the present day. It is estimated that almost one million pilgrims from all over the world climb to the summit every year. Many of the visitor's climb barefoot or on their knees, but this practice is not recommended on our tours! It is of Croagh Patrick that William Makepeace Thackeray wrote, when he described his journey from Leenaun to Westport by sidecar: "And presently, from an eminence, I caught sight not only of a fine view, but of the most beautiful view I ever saw in the world." Accommodation for tonight is in the bustling town of Westport. Distance: 12 km, 7 miles, Ascent: 764m, 2.510ft.
Day 8: Depart for Dublin, arriving at 1.30pm.
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