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County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Galway, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Connemara, The Burren, Galway, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
3,896 posts
102 reviews
County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

It's a seldom-visited area of County Mayo, yet it boasts some of the most impressive coastal clifftop scenery in the entire country. After spending five years covering and exploring the landscape of the entire country, Robert Lloyd Praeger in his seminal book, The Way That I Went (1937) noted the spectacular nature of the landscape. Thousands of years of Atlantic erosion have created a series of sea stacks, sea arches and vertical cliff drops all haphazardly combining to create a breathtaking coastal landscape.

It's surprisingly well marked out, watch out for the Purple Arrows leading the way. If you wish to see the most dramatic parts you will have to veer slightly away from the main trail. There is a low-lying sheep fence running up the length of Benwee Head. The fence ends near summit area of Benwee Head overlooking Kid Island on your left. On a clear day, you can see both Sliabh Liag and Croaghaun in the far distance. The second highest and highest sea cliffs in Ireland. The trail heads back inland, but personally, I wouldn't do this. Turn right around and head back in the same direction to see this astounding scenery for the second time. It's not a difficult trek but do allow about 3-4 hours in total.

https://goo.gl/p5B2i1 ----- This is the route from Westport, County Mayo up to Portacloy. Park at the wooden fence overlooking the beach, which will be on your right and start walking straight ahead. Make sure you go all the way out to the "EIRE" sign embedded into the ground, (the views here are staggering). The sign, a leftover from WW2 signifying Ireland's neutrality to air bombers overhead, both Allied and German.

https://flic.kr/s/aHskKM7AHy ---- Some images and videos showing some of the highlights.

Enjoy County Mayo

13 replies to this topic
Dublin, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Sligo, Dublin
Level Contributor
11,174 posts
230 reviews
1. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Damian you're a national treasure! Fabulous photos and info again - you've some head for heights!

Galway, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Connemara, The Burren, Galway, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
3,896 posts
102 reviews
2. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Dubfam,

Thanks for the kind words, but I guess the hardest thing is getting the time and coinciding that with a good day usually outside the norm here in west of Ireland.

Combing the two is usually a matter of luck. But it's a truly spectacular location and virtually anyone can get up there and do the walk. It's scenery on another scale without the tour buses. I noticed there was a bnb close enough to the beach. Not that's heaven on earth.

The heights issue is the easy part, once worked on the skyscrapers in New York. lol

Edited: 8:51 am, October 19, 2018
NJ
Level Contributor
360 posts
29 reviews
3. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Oh wow, Damian, your photos are once again beautiful beyond words! Thank you for being so generous with your insights and photography.

I have added Benwee Coast to our places to visit on a future trip. Hopefully someday soon....

Thanks for letting us travel there virtually for the time being.

Whitney, Texas
Destination Expert
for Ireland
Level Contributor
16,992 posts
27 reviews
4. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

wow, beautiful pics and videos......thanks for a wonderful share....

Galway, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Connemara, The Burren, Galway, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
3,896 posts
102 reviews
5. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Spectacular location Oma, County Mayo has it all. We currently have a total of 5 Western Ireland Destination Experts on the forum and I'm the only one that actually lives in Ireland. So it's nice to be able to share some local knowledge and insight.

Irelandherewecome,

The cliffs are higher than the Cliffs of Moher. There are Bronze Age remains on one of the large promontories. I have no idea how they built a fort there. But the entire coastal scenery is off-the-scale!!!

Bishop Auckland...
Destination Expert
for Dover, Rye
Level Contributor
7,287 posts
82 reviews
6. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Thats stunning x

Western Ireland...
Level Contributor
431 posts
18 reviews
7. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Damian, you make me want to dust off my walking gear!

Galway, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Connemara, The Burren, Galway, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
3,896 posts
102 reviews
8. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Bríd,

Go for it, get up around County Mayo if you can. The area around Portacloy is astounding. The deserted islands are something else. Inishkea North Island is just amazing.

https://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowTopic-g186625…

https://binged.it/2PRvWW9 ---- Opposite the "Eire" sign is the large promontory jutting out into the sea. It's gradually detaching from the mainland. There are the remains of an Iron Age fort at the top. It's all but impossible to reach now and below that is a storm beach.

Edited: 3:40 am, October 24, 2018
Western Ireland...
Level Contributor
431 posts
18 reviews
9. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Tried to get to Iniskea the last time we were up in Belmullet but the seas changed . I’d say it’s fascinating - I’m a bit of an island nerd !

Galway, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Connemara, The Burren, Galway, Western Ireland
Level Contributor
3,896 posts
102 reviews
10. Re: County Mayo - Benwee Head Coastal Hike

Inishkea South Island is certainly easier to reach as it has the pier. The North Island is devoid of a pier which makes landing a rare occurrence. It was amazing to explore it last June during the heatwave. It's littered with historical sites, with some going back 4000-years.

Hard to believe but there's a "hermit" currently living on the North Island. He's been there for a several years now and has somehow managed to survive in one of the old houses that's been made more habitable. The view and general scenery he has from the front window of the place is really beyond words. It's incredible.

We briefly encountered him heading back to the beach and he chatted for a short while. He described the harsh winter conditions when the island can be almost submerged with water and being cut off for weeks on end. We were left speechless.

It's definitely the closest I've ever come to meeting a modern day Robinson Crusoe.

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