Mayo’s Great Western Greenway is fast becoming one of the most successful tourism attractions in Ireland.
And I found out why when I finally got around to cycling the Greenway last week. I loved every minute of my trip along the former railway line that has been transformed into Ireland’s longest off-road walking and cycling trail.
The trail runs all the way from Westport to to Achill – a distance of 42km – but unless you are very fit and used to cycling it is best to limit yourself to one section at a time.
That was how my travelling companies and I decided to introduce ourselves to the experience and I would recommend the 18km section of Greenway from Newport to Mulranny as a first step before taking on the entire trail.
We hired our bikes from Greenway Bicycle Hire who have a bicycle garage at the corner of Main Street and the Castlebar Road in lovely Newport.
I can highly recommend their service. The sturdy bikes cost us €12 each and the friendly and warm Mayo welcome we received from the staff got our day off to the perfect start. The hire bike company will also collect you in Mulranny for a small fee if you don’t feel like cycling back to Newport.
The trail starts in Newport town, and after a short cycle along the main road, you are on the Greenway and from there on you will find yourself cycling or walking through a Mayo paradise, surrounded by bog, gushing streams, mountains and spectacular views of Clew Bay and Clare Island as you approach Mulranny.
The number of families using this section of the Greenway is quite remarkable and you quickly forget about your tired legs when you notice all the small children cycling along the family friendly trail with their parents in tow!
The magnificent scenery will ensure you take the occasional break from the cyling to admire the unspoiled beauty of the wild and wonderful Mayo countryside – and the only sound we could hear was the call of the Cuckoo which was a real treat.
From Mulranny the trail continues for 11km to Achill which we intend to cycle before the summer is over.
However, on this occasion, we stopped in Mulranny and like many of the other cyclists enjoyed some refreshments in the Mulranny Park Hotel before setting off on the return journey.
The 18km return leg seemed like a daunting prospect as we steered our bikes up the hill at the rear of the hotel, but once you’re back peddling along the smooth surfaced Greenway you quickly forget all your-day to-day worries and before you know it you are back in Newport.
Some of us were a little saddle sore, but delighted, nonetheless, to have cycled Mayo’s Great Western Greenway and looking forward to a return visit when we will walk the Greenway for a different experience of this beautiful part of Mayo.