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The Longest Off Road Cycling Path in Ireland

by Derek Cullen
Cycling the Great Western Greenway

Here’s another adventure idea in Ireland: Leave the car in Westport, cycle along “The Great Western Greenway” to Achill Island and then return to Westport by taking the ferry back across Clew Bay.

Any takers?

If you don’t fancy cycling the Great Western Greenway, you might spend a couple of days walking the path instead.

But what is the Great Western Greenway exactly?

What is the Great Western Greenway?

The Great Western Greenway is a traffic free, off-road trail that travels from Westport to Achill Island in County Mayo. As part of the National Cycle Network, this route is popular with cyclists but also open to those who wish to walk.

More specifically, the Great Western Greenway has four major intersections: Westport – Newport – Mulranny – Achill.

Just so you know, there is also bike hire in each town which means that you do not need to take your own bike.

Clew Bay Loop and Cycling the Great Western Greenway

The Great Western Greenway

It’s known as the “Clew Bay Loop” and in case you might be asking yourself, this will mean cycling approximately 42km.

12km – Westport – Newport – Cycling from Westport to Newport should take approx 1.5 hours. Walking this same route will take at least 3 hours for most people.

18km – Newport – Mulranny – Cycling from Newport to Mulranny will take approx 2.5 hours. Walking this same route will take closer to 6 hours.

13km – Mulranny – Achill – Cycling from Mulranny to Achill should take approx 1.5hours. Walking this same route will take closer to 4 hours.

Although closed since 1937, this was actually the route for the Great Western Railway. But today, gentle gradients and a well-marked path make this ideal for cycling and walking.

In fact, this is now the longest off-road cycling path in the country.

Best of all…

The Best Thing About Cycling the Great Western Greenway

Walking the Great Western Greenway

There is no traffic and plenty of signage for cycling the Great Western Greenway. As part of the path, you cycle through fields, mountains and working farms with cattle, sheep and horses. What’s more, it’s often possible to see dolphins, seal colonies and seabirds at each end of the loop.

When you reach Achill Island, it’s then possible to take a chartered boat back toward the Westport area. However, this boat can only accommodate up to twelve passengers and needs to be booked ahead of time.

If it was me, I would like to cycle the Great Western Greenway on a Saturday, stay overnight on Achill Island and then take the boat back toward Westport on Sunday.

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