Erris Head Loop Walk, located on the northern tip of the magnificent Mullet peninsula, is one of my favourite looped walks in County Mayo.
The walk is 5km and can be completed at a leisurely pace in under 2 hours. At any rate, the scenery is so beautiful you are likely to linger and enjoy the views.
The trail is along a spectacular coastal loop where walkers wind their way around the headland, taking in magnificent views of rocky islands, sea cliffs and the wide expanse of the North Atlantic. The walk is mainly along an earth bank and you will also cross a number of stiles and a wooden footbridge. It is a relatively easy walk with only two slight climbs and the entire trek should take less than 2 hours.
To reach the start of the trailhead, take the R313 from Belmullet and after approximately 4 km you turn left off the road at the sign for Ceann Iorrais.
From Danish Cellar to Eagle Island
You arrive at a small car park, at the end of a narrow road, which is the start of the walk, overlooking a pretty sheltered harbour, with the colourful name, the Danish Cellar.
It makes you wonder where this Erris Head inlet got its name? Did the Vikings moor their longboats here on a long-forgotten visit to North Mayo?
If you have any insights about the origins of the inlet’s name feel free to comment below.
The walk is not too difficult although, during a wet summer, the return leg can bring you over some pretty boggy ground. So you need to wear good sturdy walking boots – essential footwear for walking.
Crashing waves and mysterious signs
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Erris Head walk is the rich biodiversity of the flora and fauna you will see, including lots of nesting seabirds in the rocky crevices of the sea cliffs.
Conveniently, at about the halfway point of the walk, there is also a good view of Eagle Island and its lighthouse standing alone against the might of the Atlantic waves.
If you want to have a rest to enjoy a flask of tea and a sandwich then this is the best place to stop where you can sit back and watch the waves crashing against the rocks.
EIRE Sign World War 11
The return leg of your walk begins with a gentle climb. Set into the side of the hill is a mysterious stone construction of the word EIRE.
The Erris Head EIRE sign was one of 84 signs that were put in place all around the Irish coast during World War 11 to alert foreign warplanes that they were flying over neutral Ireland. There is another EIRE sign at Downpatrick Head.
Folklore has it that the signs were to warn German pilots not to bomb neutral Ireland, but the signs were more likely intended as a navigational aid for aircraft.
As you make your way back to the trailhead, you pass by Ooghwee inlet, a long and sheltered inlet with steep sides. It is well worth getting up close for a view – but not too close – and certainly, no children should be allowed near the steep and dangerous cliff edge.
From the start to the finish of the Erris Head Loop Walk, you will be impressed by the many spectacular views, including Illandavuck Island, Pigeon Rock and a number of sea arches, which will draw you back to this lovely location.