Westport to Achill – an appraisal of the Great Western Greenway

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This is, as we say in Cork (and I believe in Liverpool also) a span new cycleway. It's 44 km long or 26 miles in a Christian measure. It is off-road but on surfaced tracks apart from a 1 mile section near Achill Sound and a perhaps 2 mile section on the Westport side of Newport, both of which are on the main road. It for the most part uses the old railway line between Westport and Achill which was called the Great Western, from what I remember. It starts on a side-road outside Westport which is difficult to find and out of the way and is more sensibly accessed at the bottom of the first hill, on the right, on the road to Newport. That's only about a mile from the centre of Westport and that's what I'd recommend. It was officially opened by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny very recently. It is already a big tourist draw, mostly for very casual cyclists and cycle tourist and on Sunday when I cycled it there were several hundred cyclists using it, but fortunately not all in the same place!!

Westport is a small town near the sea, which is one of Ireland's nicest towns. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery and a lovely place to live. My son Tom lives there with his wife, the lovely Tracy and their two bambinas. The youngest baby was only a week old when we went there for the August weekend, Mary to keep Shonagh, the two year old out of her mother's hair and me to be a man, i.e. largely useless.
I'd brought my racing machine in the boot of the car and had decided to cycle to Achill Sound via Mulrany and the Corraun peninsula and to cycle back on the cycle-track.
On Sunday morning I headed out on a not-unpleasant morning and after a mile or so I could catch glimpses of the cycle-route on my left and later crossing to the right. The road is fairly busy but not awful, and rather up and down, but there were no severe gradients on it at all. Max I would say, about 6%.
The first place you reach is the little town of Newport, a small place on an inlet. You can see the old railway bridge in this.

The route recommences just on the Achill side of this.

The following photos are taken from the road route to Achill and via the coast road from Mulrany via Corraun to Achill Sound.

The island on the left is Clare Island where the pirate queen, Grace O'Malley had her headquarters. The Queen Mother was descended from her among others, I believe.

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7 comments on “Westport to Achill – an appraisal of the Great Western Greenway”

  1. Kern wrote:

    The scenery of Ireland is always special. It makes cycling worthwhile whatever the condition of the road. We travelled through Westport but headed inland towards Sligo rather than taking the coast. I'd pencil in this route for our next trip.

  2. Garry Lee wrote:

    It's well worth doing and in nice weather Achill Island is gorgeous. In bad weather, horrendous!

  3. Hilary wrote:

    Ireland certainly looks beautiful. Its nice to hear about a cycle track that actually has a decent rideable surface, so many seem to be built on the assumption that everyone rides mountain bikes.

  4. Garry Lee wrote:

    It's not all perfect but I rode it on 23c racing tyres and I'm 15st plus and I had no pinch puncture or anything.

  5. Chris wrote:

    I'm all for cycle routes like this one. I think for beginning cyclists it gives them a nudge, a bit of inspiration perhaps to do something they might otherwise not have thought to plan for themselves. In case you hadn't guessed I'm a big fan of the Big Skies Bike Rides near where I live. In fact, I rode one yesterday when I struggled for motivation to get out. I drove there, so not very green of me, but it gave me a push and I really enjoyed the Sledmere Country from Sledmere ride. Without wanting to sound sniffy, I don't think we're the intended audience for these sorts of short rides, but we can enjoy them all the same :smile:

  6. We have a new bicycle hire business in Achill, which is also the location of a National Cycle Hub with three looped trails, as well as several old bog roads and tracks winding around the island. We can also offer bike and passenger transport if necessary. Happy Cycling on Achill Island!

  7. Irish artist wrote:

    Lovely track, I went there few days ago, highly recommended :)

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