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Co Mayo: one walk, one run, one hike, one swim, one cycle, one park and one outdoor gym

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This summer, The Irish Times will offer tips, advice and information for parents on how to help their children thrive during the holiday months. Read all about it at
 irishtimes.com/summeroffamily

When the weather is good, there is so much to do outdoors in Ireland – solo, or with family or friends. Here are seven activities – with locations, descriptions, tips and some maps for a general guide.

Below you can read John O’Dwyer’s pick for a great walking path, Conor O’Keeffe on a running route, Rozanna Purcell recommends a hiking trail, Mary McCarthy on an outdoor swimming location, Ian O’Riordan picks a cycle trip, Sylvia Thompson on a family-friendly park and Fiona Alston selects a popular outdoor gym.

And remember, whatever you do and wherever you go, please be safe. And enjoy. 

ONE WALK

Cong Abbey in the village of the same name. The abbey dates back to the 12th Century.
Cong Abbey

Name Cong Woods
Distance 5km loop
Approximate duration 1.5 hours
Difficulty Easy
Starting point Google Maps Cong Abbey (grid reference M 147 551)
Amenities Restaurants, pubs, parking
Follows walking arrows along an easy woodland track with echoes from the Quiet Man movie all around. There is also the option of a cave descent that children will love.

ONE RUN

Name: The Great Western Greenway

The Great Western Greenway has transformed the 43.5km long old rail route between Westport and Achill. Ireland’s longest greenway is a chance for cyclists and walkers of all abilities to get off the beaten track and soak up the stunning views and exceptional scenery that the west of Ireland is famous for. It’s the perfect activity to plan a short getaway to Mayo around.

One of the biggest advantages of the route is that it allows you to get out into the countryside without having to tackle dirt tracks or negotiate uneven country lanes. So you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Mayo without the noise and traffic of a main road. The smooth, level track is ideal for cycling and it’s easy to rent a bike for the day at Westport Bike Hire or Clew Bay Bike Hire. You can also take advantage of drop off points and a free shuttle service at different locations along the greenway so you don’t have to commit to doing the whole trip in one go. Take in beautiful views along the Great Western Greenway in Co Mayo

Westport to Newport (12.5km)
This section of the route starts off in the charming town of Westport, which has no shortage of boutique shops, great eateries and excellent pubs. This portion of the greenway route takes in some stunning Atlantic seascapes and you can look out over Clew Bay, which is dotted with small islands. Finish up in the lively heritage town of Newport on the shores of Clew Bay, which is a renowned fishing spot.

Newport to Mulranny (18km)
The next section takes you on to Mulranny and you’ll get to see impressive views of Clew Bay, Clare Island and the rugged Nephin Beg mountain range. One unique feature on this section is the eye-catching Mulranny causeway, a narrow bridge that crosses Trawoughter Bay and links the village to Mulranny’s blue flag beach. This serene beach is a great spot for a dip on a good day. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the town’s famous old Irish goats. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of these rare, big-horned locals as you pass through these parts.

Mulranny to Achill Sound (13km)
This section will take you from Mulranny to Achill Sound, the first village you encounter when you cross on to the beautiful Achill Island from the mainland. Prepare to enjoy some spectacular island sights and some of the country’s most dramatic coastal scenery when you get there. Make sure your phone is charged as you’ll definitely want to grab some photos along the way. Soaring sea cliffs, breathtaking views and a friendly island welcome await you when you complete your trip. Celebrate with a pint or a coffee or just relax and soak up some of the island’s natural charms. This is a chance to get away from it all and explore the old railway route under your own steam and at your own pace. (Aided by: Mayo Walks and Greenway.ie)

ONE HIKE

Hike name Croaghaun Mountain
Distance 8.4km
Elevation gain 765m
Approximate duration 3-3.5 hours
Difficulty Difficult
Route type Out and back
Starting point See AllTrails Croaghaun SW Top
Amenities Parking
Dog friendly No
Tips You can hike from the Keem Bay side also: it’s just a little longer. Once you get to the summit, head down to the right for the best view looking out towards Belmullet, and don’t forget to take a dip at Keem Bay afterwards

Croaghaun.
Croaghaun

ONE SWIM

Name: Belmullet Tidal Pool
Location: Google Map: Shore Road, Belmullet
Description:
18m long main pool. Has a baby pool
Amenities: Parking and Portaloo toilets during summer
Lifeguard: Summer months
Water quality: Sea water. No chemicals. Water is kept fresh by the high tides
Tips: Open all hours. Can get busy in the afternoon in summer as there are swimming lessons though a section will always be left open. At sunset it’s something special

ONE CYCLE

Name: The Great Western Greenway
Start location: Westport
Route:
One of the original and still best designated greenways, the mostly coastal and magnificently scenic old railway line tracks its way through Newport and Mulranny finishes on the rugged Achill Island, still suitable for cyclists of all abilities.
Distance: 43.5km one-way, 87km return
Time: 3-6 hours.
Highlights: The first sweeping views of Clew Bay with Croagh Patrick in the background.
Look out for: A free shuttle service at different locations along the greenway (so you don’t have to commit to doing the whole trip in one go).
Tips: Once safely landed on Achill Island, the cool clear waters of Keem Bay present the prefect cold recovery dip for tired legs.

The Great Western Greenway.

ONE PARK

Park name: Westport House and Gardens, Westport
Amenities: A pirates’ adventure park with slides, swinging ships, swan pedalos and a miniature train. Extensive parklands and woodland walks and cycles.
Special features: a 3.5 km looped walk
Access: On-site parking reopening in June, multiple pedestrian entrances from Westport town. Google Map “Westport House”.
Dogs: Dogs on leads only.
Tip: Consider staying over at the camping and caravan site in the farmyard.

Westport House in Mayo. Photograph: Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Westport House

ONE OUTDOOR GYM

Name: Kilmaine Outdoor Gym
Equipment: Cross trainer, rower, ab-curl, lat pull-down, chest press, stepper, dip bars, chin-up bars.
Location: Google Maps
Information: This outdoor facility is a new addition to the walkway around the Kilmaine Community Grounds. 

Get Active Series
32 great walking routes in Ireland – one in each county
32 great hikes in Ireland
32 great running routes
32 great outdoor swim locations
32 great cycling routes
32 great parks
32 great outdoor gyms

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