Do you cycle much?

Eh no – not really.

You won’t cycle tomorrow so!

A comedian – hilarious….

He introduces me to my trusty steed.

A thing of beauty – NOT!

But it looks strong and reliable – and what do you expect for €20 per day!

So we’ll phone you when we’re finished with the bikes then?

No need – just leave them against the wall here – I’ll be passing by later anyway....

It seems a tad ‘city slicker’ to inquire about locks…. but if he’s not worried then….

So where are ye headed?

We’re just going as far as Achill Sound and back...

That’s grand – it’ll take you about an hour to get to Achill…..

maybe an hour and a half nodding at me!

The nerve of him!

We politely wait until he pulls off in his van before giving the interior of the helmets a onceover with antibacterial wipes. There’s a bit of undignified wobbling as I find my cycling legs – (last time on a bike was cycling tour of Malaga Oct, 2019 – not too bad really) and we try to leave the hotel car park with style.

We are heading out on what is probably the most well known cycle route in the country – the Great Western Greenway. The 3 stage route totals 43kms and can be enjoyed as one long cycle or in individual stages – the most popular option for non-frequent bikers is to cycle the course in one direction and arrange a shuttle bus for the other.

Having being blessed with a run of bad weather and now tight on time, we are compromising by cycling one stage in both directions – the 13km from our hotel in Mallaranny to Achill and back. This means we are not restricted by shuttle times and the best views are supposedly on this part of the route anyway.

The gradient is ‘gentle’ with a firm track – so even I should manage it!

And we’re off….

A few of the locals see us on our way….

The first part takes us through woodland.

Love the bench – definitely using that for a photo challenge or two!!!

You’re never far from water around here…

The Greenway mainly follows the line of the Great Western Midlands Railway which closed in 1937. Originally built in the 1800s, the tracks are gone but there’s still evidence and a sense of a railway past all along the route.

Local landowners have allowed access through their land where necessary. There are a few gates and cattle grids along the way……

….as well as the odd stray!

At least the views around me are worth looking at!

The sheltered bays are perfect for aquaculture production.

Mountain. moorland and coastline – the wild landscape is stunning.

But we’re not in the wilderness here – the road is close by. Now and again there are glimpses and sounds of traffic – but they don’t intrude…

The occasional break in the clouds teases but doesn’t linger alas!

The Mullaranny / Achill stage only runs along the main road for a very short distance. Refreshment opportunities on the route will hopefully reopen soon….

Making progress – over half way

Rhododendron is invasive in the west of Ireland but the trail must be stunning in the flowering season.

Completed in 2011, over a quarter of a million people use the trail annually….

Achill island ahead – but this is where we turn back…

Thanks to covid there’s not a lot of refreshment options so we settle for SuperValu coffees and pastries just over the bridge..

The journey back was always going to be easier – and faster of course as there was less inclination to stop for photos (although things do look different from the other point of view).

Back at the hotel, we park our bikes against the aforementioned wall and treat ourselves to a well earned chowder!

Ps – he was right on both counts of course – it took me nearly the 90 minutes to cycle (although in my defence I did keep stopping for photos) and there’s NO way I could have faced a saddle the following day!!!

Small Stuff

The Route:

Westport – Newport 11km Estimated Cycling Time: 1 to 1.5 Hours

Newport – Mallaranny 18km Estimated Cycling Time: 2 to 2.5 Hours

Mallaranny – Achill 13km Estimated Cycling Time: 1 to 1.5 Hours

To Suit – moderate level of fitness

You NeedHelmet, Bike, Lock, Mobile Phone, Snacks, Fluid and Waterproofs.

Bike Hire – there are several companies offering services in the three towns. You can rent bikes, baby trailers, child seats, helmets and locks. Many provide shuttle services to bring you back to base. Expect to pay €20-€25 for a bike /€45 ish for an electric bike. The shuttle can cost around €15 PP.


  1. Your a brave woman yourself Marie, to take a 90 minute bike ride, but I’m not surprised. Your daring-do will see you through anything life throws at you. Besides, 2019 in Malaga isn’t that long ago. My last bike tour was in Cuba where we had a tandem but it wasn’t successful as I was constantly being accused of not doing my bit to keep the pedals spinning. I thought I was. Then I attempted another in the New Forest about 14 years ago but that was disastrous as they couldn’t get a bike that enabled me to reach the pedals in comfort (I’m on the short side!) After I came off a couple of times I had to give up and I haven’t tried since. Your pix are, as always, illuminating and they bring Mayo right into our homes. Thanks.

    1. Oh – and to make absolutely sure that I get every drop of appreciation and acclaim that’s out there – that cycle was 90 minutes each way!!!😇😇😅 😂

      1. Alas yes!!! A lot of grey skies – that’s why we go absolutely mad when the sun comes out!!!😅 😂 🤣

  2. Good on your for taking advantage of this cycle path. It looks like a great place to ride. Nothing beats a good ride in the country. Thanks for sharing Marie. Allan

  3. What an idyllic bike ride!! I think biking is a fun way to explore, but I love taking pictures and Jon doesn’t realize I have stopped so he ends up a few miles ahead of me ha!

    1. Same here!!!! Except he KNOWS I’ve stopped! But that’s 37 years of marriage compared to your few months Lissy!!!😅 😂 🤣

      1. 😂😂😂 that cracked me up! I am also very quiet so even if I yelled I’m stopping he wouldn’t hear me most likely 🤦🏻‍♀️

  4. Beautiful scenery despite the dull weather 🙂 Good on you taking on the bike ride, and it seems you rose to the challenge! I have never ridden a bike, perhaps amazingly 😆 I never had one as a child and when my husband tried to teach me soon after we got together he gave up as my appalling sense of balance meant I could never get more than a few yards!

  5. Great write-up, nasty but familiar looking weather, in this oddly disappointing British/Irish summer. And my eyebrows just raised at Sarah not being able to ride a bike. I (Phil) can’t either, and I thought I was the only adult on Earth who’d never learnt!!

  6. Great post and so many beautiful photos, Marie. Looks like you head heaps of fun exploring Mayo on two wheels. We are planning, weather permitted, to cycle the Great Western Greenway next week. Ericeira can just about fit into a toddler bike trailer buggy, and we want to use the opportunity to at least manage the third and the most scenic part of the greenway which is from Mulranny to the beautiful Achill Islands. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xxx

    1. Brilliant…. it’s a lovely route. I know of many who have done one stage and then returned to do it all…. I’m not in the least bit inclined – not for now anyway. I enjoyed the bit we did. Lots of the toddler buggies about… and a fair few kids – a bit older- struggling on their own bikes after a few kms… just fed up and not exactly appreciative of the surrounding landscape! Families with teens were fine.. Hope you get a good day….

  7. The greenways have certainly opened up Ireland, away from the roads, in recent times. I wonder if you’ll return to Achill in this blog series…

    1. I will indeed – we were on Achill a few days beforehand – a bad day so photos will be dismal but I’ll hopefully be able to cobble something together…

    1. I’m not sure what state I’d be in if I did the whole thing! The nice thing about it is it’s accessibility from 3 popular hubs so visitors can dip in and out as much as they wish. Also, I felt the bike hire wasn’t too expensive considering the location – our guy charged €20 per bike per day – so I didn’t feel I had to do the whole thing to justify the expense….

    1. We reckoned the rain would hold off for a few hours at least… the weather the previous day had been dreadful and we were moving on from that part of the county that very day so it was our last chance … glad we went for it… it was lovely despite the grey skies…

  8. Thanks for sharing this series, Marie. There are so many historical, artistic, and natural sights to see in that area! Lots of wide open spaces too.

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