Walk for the Weekend: Maximum scenic reward, minimum investment of time

Just off the Great Western Greenway, Mulranny Walk is a perfect way to visit Co Mayo

Mulranny Walk, Co Mayo

Mulranny Walk, Co Mayo

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How I detest the annual charade known as the budget. Recently, it has become a time when our leaders hand out sweets to almost everyone, while claiming the whole vote-gathering exercise is actually in the interests of fiscal rectitude.

Of course, it’s all high theatre, with everyone acting out their assigned role on the great stage of public opinion, but sometimes it gets too much.

Having driven to Mayo in the aftermath of the budget, all the while listening on the radio to people whose favourite words were “entitled” and “missed opportunity”, an immediate escape from the whole overblown pastiche was urgent, but where to go on an abbreviated October evening? Then I remembered a route I had noticed leading off the Great Western Greenway, which appeared to promise maximum scenic reward for minimum investment of time and effort.

Setting out from the Victorian elegance of Mulranny Park Hotel, I descended steps directly opposite and then continued along a 19th-century causeway and bridge leading through an extensive salt marsh. Gaining a storm beach, I ambled right behind the strand and then up a rustic lane to reach a public road, where arrows indicated uphill. Going off-piste soon after, I abandoned the signs and ascended to reach Log na Currane’s summit, which is crowned by a booster station.

This diversion proved worthwhile, for laid out below was the majestic isolation of Bellacragher Bay as it misted north to Blacksod Bay and the sombre outline of the isolated Nephin mountains.

Back on track, I followed the arrows left through scenic Cushlecha Bog before exiting on to a surfaced road. Then it was across the main road and uphill on a meandering forest track to join the Great Western Greenway which, even on an October evening, was busy with walkers and cyclists. I shouldn’t have been surprised, for the Greenway is undoubtedly one of the great innovations of Irish tourism. With about 250,000 user’s annually, it is estimated to have created 200 jobs in the surrounding areas and has now spawned many imitators nationwide.

At this point I could have gone right and returned to Mulranny House, but the gracious cut-stone viaduct crossing the N59 to Bangor drew me like a moth to light.

Here, it was steeply downhill to the road, where soon after the route meandered right and uphill through some steep, unforgiving terrain, where I scrabbled around to find the trail on a couple of occasions. Eventually the trail decanted me at the viewing point of Cruach Gorrach (Lookout Hill) where I was rewarded with a spectacular panorama over the drowned drumlins of Clew Bay to Croagh Patrick’s handsome head, which today was flirting elegantly with puffy white clouds.

Then, with a red-tinted hunter’s moon above in an azure sky and lights reigniting in the valley below, I descended the darkening mountainside to rejoin the Greenway for the short ramble to Mulranny House Hotel. Immediately, political reality intruded: as I drove away in gathering darkness, a political spokesman was on the radio describing the budget as “a slap in the face for the home renters of Ireland”.

Start to finish: From Westport, take the N59 through Newport to Mulranny village, which is signposted Mallaranny. Start your walk from Mulranny Park Hotel.
Suitability: Generally unchallenging outing on reasonably sound tracks. Walking poles are useful, however, on the rough ascent from the N59 to Cruach Gorrach.
Time: Three hours
Map: EastWest Mapping; Wild Nephin

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