There are lots of great walks in Connemara, around every corner there is a beach, a lake shore or a hill just waiting to be explored. Almost anyone can find somewhere to exercise, but the real secret is to be able to reward yourself for all the effort after you have had your walk. Here are five of my favourite lunchtime walks, all quite civilised, requiring nothing more than wellies and a coat suitable for whatever weather the day holds for you.
Ballynahinch Castle is a rather elegant Country House that has had an interesting history, and recently has been extensively refurbished and the gardens restored to their former glory. Visitors are welcome to walk in the gardens, and there are many clearly marked routes. If you wish to go a little further the Connemara Greenway starts here and you can walk about four or five miles out toward Recess and back. The newly restored walled garden and its glasshouse are very interesting.
The reward for this walk is to go into the hotel bar and have tea, sandwiches and cake in front of the huge fireplace, admiring the paintings and soaking up the old world atmosphere. Take the N59 Galway road out of Clifden and keep an eye out for a right turn signposted after you pass the tiny church in Recess.
Diamond Hill and the Connemara National Park
Situated in the village of Letterfrack the Connemara National Park is
well worth a visit, and has a number of well-marked walks which vary from easy to tough. The longer walks are great to learn about what to expect when walking the Connemara hills. The shorter walks are great for running the children about and there is a nicely laid out nature trail. The reward for this walk is to stroll across the road to Veldons Seafarer bar for lunch, great to sit outside on a fine day. https://www.connemaranationalpark.ie/
Clifden Boat Club Boardwalk Café.
If you are in Clifden doing some shopping and want a change from your normal routine there is a great walk down to Clifden Bay. Park the car in the town, and take the Beach Road down to the sea, passing Super Value supermarket on your left. There is a very pleasant walk along the Beach Road, and at the end you will find Clifden Boat Club with its Boardwalk Café, so stop there for a cup of something and a bite to eat, and admire Clifden bay from the Comfort of the Café. Don’t eat too much though as you have to walk back! Sail training and other activities take place here and you can sign up for them in the Clubhouse or through the website. http://www.clifdenboatclub.com/
Kylemore Abbey is one of the most visited places in the West of Ireland, and with good reason, the walled gardens are stunning all year and especially in early summer, there is a charge for entry, but it is a must if you have never seen it. The best time to visit is June when it is not so busy and the gardens are at their best. There is a great deal of really interesting history tied up with the Abbey, and the little Gothic Church is uniquely beautiful. In the refectory they serve an Irish staple favourite cake called Rocky Road made in true Irish Mother Style. Simply a must. https://www.kylemoreabbey.com/
Dogs Bay and Gurteen
If you travel to Roundstone on the Ballyconneely road about two and a half miles outside of the village you will see Dogs Bay and Gurteen Beaches signposted. You can drive down to the car-park and walk along one beach, around the end of the peninsula and back down the other beach. A great bracing walk on a breezy day, and a spot for sandcastle building in Summer. These two beaches, which lie back to back are amongst the top beaches in Ireland, with white sand and an elegant curve of the bays.
The reward for this walk is to drive in to Roundstone village and find one of the pubs for a bite to eat, O’Dowds Bar serves a legendary bowl of chowder which is highly recommended.