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Mayo is Ireland’s foremost destination for cycle tourists and it has worked hard to achieve that accolade. A variety of trails are available from dedicated cycle hubs, as well as Ireland's longest designated cycling and walking trail.
The multi-award-winning Great Western Greenway was named as one of the New York Times’ three favourite cycle trails in the world in 2013. Running 43.5km around the eastern and Northern stretches of Clew Bay, it is one of Ireland’s fastest growing and most sought-after tourist attractions and the longest designated cycling and walking trail in the country.
The Greenway begins in the popular seaside town of Westport and winds through the quaint villages of Newport and Mulranny before coming to a gentle finish at Achill Sound. Formerly a railway line, it has a gentle gradient ensuring you can enjoy the magnificent landscape backdrops of Clew Bay, Clare Island, the mythical holy mountain Croagh Patrick, and the Nephin Beg Mountains. You travel through bogs, woodlands and active farmland, and there are lots of opportunities to spot wildlife and flora.
The Greenway Railway
A narrow-gauge rail line was built from Westport to Achill in 1895. In an era where road travel was appalling and difficult this example of a ‘Balfour Line’ was initially very successful.
But while the rail line was of great economic and social benefit to Mayo, passenger levels fell short of expectations. With the improvement of the road network and the increase in motor vehicles passenger numbers continued to fall until in 1934 the line closed to passengers. It remained open to freight until 1937 when this too was closed.
Iris Galloway’s pocket guide and history, The Great Western Greenway, is available for purchase from local bike hire providers and local book stores, or from mayobooks.ie
In addition to the Greenway, Mayo has an abundance of marked on-road cycling trails, some of which can take you across mountain tops, through dense forest and along remote sea coves. Every few kilometres you will come across an ancient castle, sacred site, rustic village or tempting café.
Mayo has a number of dedicated cycle hub locations, including the popular destinations of Achill Island and Westport
Achill is as close to cycling paradise as you’ll find. The island has narrow lanes – so you will encounter few cars – and its roads lead to soaring cliffs, rolling tracts of mountain bog, megalithic tombs, 5,000 year-old forts, a 15th century tower house, 19th century chapels, deserted villages and glorious beaches – all on a 40km loop.
Find out more about why Achill is one of Ireland’s most popular cycling destinations.
Westport’s layout and location makes it unique. Nestling safe at the foot of towering Croagh Patrick, overlooking Clew Bay and its enchanting islands, the town weaves its spell on everyone who visits. The Westport cycle hub offers three routes varying in distance from 8km to 24km.
The remote back roads will take you through a wide variety of glorious landscapes:
Then there is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets – experience soaring cliffs from Ballycastle past Céide Fields to Belderg and all the way across to Carrowteige through an area so remote you might believe that wolves and dragons still exist there.
Cycle Ireland has a great app which highlights some fantastic Mayo routes - such as
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