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!!!
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 Need – Helmet, 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.