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Beaches Erris History Mayo Walks

Cross Loop Walk where scenery and legend meet

There are very few looped walks that can rival The Cross Loop Walks on The Mullet in Co Mayo for such varied and magnificent seaside scenery.  From the moment you set foot on Cross beach, which stretches from Cross Point to Corraun Point, you will know you are in a place of great beauty that has inspired storytellers, poets, and artists for centuries.

The trail, which is best walked at low tide, is an easy walk along the seashore, through sand dunes, and around by a lake in a beautiful, remote and unspoiled part of Co Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way.

As you walk along the expansive beach, you have lovely views of Co Mayo’s most fabled island, Inishglora, of Children of Lir fame. You can also see the Inishkea Islands and to their north the small islands of Carrickmoylenacurhoga and Carrigee.

The Cross Loop Walks, near Binghamstown (An Geata Mor) offer a choice of two loops – The Green Loop is 5.7km, which takes about 1.5hours, and the Blue Loop at 7.6km can be completed in about 2.5 hours.

Burial place of Riocaird Bairéad and Dean Lyons

A beautiful sunset on Cross Beach, Co Mayo, looking towards the small islands of Carrickmoylenacurhoga and Carrigee. Photo: Anthony Hickey
A beautiful sunset on Cross Beach, Co Mayo, looking towards the small islands of Carrickmoylenacurhoga and Carrigee. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The trailhead starts at Cross Abbey and its ancient burial ground which contains the graves of two famous 19th century Erris figures – Dean Lyons, a controversial cleric, and Riocaird Bairéad, a Gaelic poet.

Riocaird Bairéad, who lived on The Mullet, wrote the well-known poem Eoghan Cóir, a satire on landlordism in Erris with particular reference to Bingham’s Baliff who terrorised the local population.

Dean John Patrick Lyons was Parish Priest of Kilmore Erris in the mid-19th century at a time when poverty and starvation hung over the barony.

He is remembered as a religious and social reformer, who stood up against the reactionary elements of the RC Church and a man of action who established schools throughout his parish and provided relief for the destitute.

Inishglora is steeped in Celtic mythology

The Cross Loop Walks on The Mullet in Co Mayo take you around Cross Lough. Photo: Anthony Hickey
The Cross Loop Walks on The Mullet in Co Mayo take you through rolling sand dunes and around Cross Lough. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The well-signposted walk along Cross beach takes about 35 minutes, but you are unlikely to be in a hurry!

As you walk along the beach that stretches as far as the eye can see, you are within shouting distance of the lovely islands of Inishglora and Inishkeeragh, and the Carricknaronty Rocks.

Inishglora is steeped in Celtic mythology. Legend has it that the four Children of Lír (Clann Lír) are buried on the Island of Inisglora. The three children were turned into swans by their jealous stepmother and cursed to spend 900 years on the bleak waters of Ireland before they finally reclaimed their human form and were buried on Inishglora.

Green trail is more enjoyable

Cross beach, part of The Cross Loop Walks on The Mullet in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Cross beach, part of The Cross Loop Walks on The Mullet Peninsula in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

After about 3km, you turn off the beach along tarred road. Turn left to follow the Green trail or right for the longer walk.

The green trail is the more enjoyable taking the walker through gentle and rolling sand dunes. One of the highlights of the walk is the view of the islands from the hilltop, Radharc na Oilean.

Swan Lake: Swans on Cross Lough, with Slievemore, Achill, in the background, January 4, 2016. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Swan Lake: Swans on Cross Lough with Slievemore, Achill, in the background, January 4, 2016. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The trail continues around by Cross Lough and brings you back along a tarred road through farmland to the trailhead at Cross graveyard.

Kite-surfing on Cross Lough, near Binghamstown, Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Kite-surfing on Cross Lough, near Binghamstown, Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Cross Lough is shallow and as a result is popular with kite surfers especially those learning the sport. When conditions are right, kite surfers from many parts of Ireland come to the lake to enjoy this exciting watersport.

As you drive homewards, you will come to Belderra beach where you can pull up in the car park and enjoy some refreshments at the picnic table, overlooking a beautiful sandy cove.

Or just sit a while and enjoy the lovely views across the water to Carne beach and Annagh Head.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

2 replies on “Cross Loop Walk where scenery and legend meet”

Beautiful! I lived in Binghamstown area once but am now in Cleveland, Ohio. I will never forget the beaches of that area from Belmullet to Blacksod. Great information in your article. Thanks for bringing us the latest improvements over there.

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