7 Day Connemara and Aran Islands
Connemara and Islands – Walking and Soft Adventure Holiday
Dates: 2020 – Jun 15th, Jul 13th, Aug 3rd, Sep 7th
Connemara is in County Galway on the very west of Ireland and takes in a long stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is known for its wild landscape, rugged hills and sandy coastlines. In the small towns and fishing ports around Connemara there are wonderful small pubs, restaurants and cafes.
It is also known for being a wonderful part of Ireland to explore on foot, bike and sea and that is what this tour is all about. Showing you the best trails and parts of Connemara as well as bringing you out onto some of its small inhabited Islands of its coast. Some of the areas in the west of Ireland are called “Gaeltachts” where the Irish language is traditionally spoken.The Aran Islands are one of these areas and Irish music, dance and folklore are also of great importance here.
Highlights: Inis Mor island (Aran Islands) , Clifden , cycling The Wild Atlantic Way, Roundstone bog, Gurteen Bay, Dogs Bay, Roundstone, Ballyconeely, Inishboffin island, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, Bundouglas and Ballinakill harbour.
Whats Included: 7 Full Days exploring Ireland’s hidden treasures, Great Guides to inform and assist you, Transport for 7 Days, Breakfasts each morning, ferry crossing to both Inis Mor and Inishboffin, 6 Nights of Great Quality Accommodation, Get to see the real west of Ireland up close, Some great Irish traditional music.
Whats Not Included: Lunches & Evening Meals, Optional Entry Fees & Activity Options.
Accommodation: Tourism Ireland Approved Guesthouses and Hotels.
Group Size: Small (Max 16)
Your adventure starts: 09:30am Pick up the city center Dublin – Molly Malone Statue on Suffolk St.
Day 1: Pick up and travel to Galway for onward travel by ferry from Rossaveal to Inish Mor.
Morning: Your adventure starts with a pickup in Dublin where you will meet your guide. Then it’s off to County Galway, where you will catch the ferry to Inis Mor.
Afternoon; A short journey by sea and after settling into your accommodation we will take a walk from Kilronan to see a few of the many sites on the islands, such as Lub an Currach and Teampaill Chiarain.
Evening: After a long day of travelling and walking, we will all have dinner and relax in one of the local pubs or restaurants. Traditional music is available most evenings on the island and Inis Mor is famous for it.
Day 2: Full day walking Inish Mor; Lub an Cill Mhuirbhigh , Dún Aonghasa and Poll na bPeist.
Walk: Easy – moderate Distance 16km, Ascent 180m
Overnight Inish Mor (Aran Island)
Morning & Afternoon; Inish Mor is well known for its monuments dating to Christian, pre Christian and Celtic times. You won’t go far without seeing something of historical interest.
Today after breakfast, we will start from Kilronan village, in the direction of Teampaill Chiarain, in the village of Mainistir (meaning monastery). It is said to have been founded by St Ciarán of Clonmacnoise in the 12th century, on the old site of Mainistir Chonnacht. Several cross-decorated slabs stand near the church.
We will pass a viewing point for the seal colony on our way and Cill Mhuirbhigh Beach, a sandy beach located on the northern coast of Inishmore Island. This whole area is rich in habitats. Several rare plant species listed as endangered are found here and the birdlife is considered of international significance.
You will see many ancient monuments today, the most impressive of which is to Dún Aonghasa, located at the top of 300ft cliffs. The fort covers 14 acres and has a tri-vallate structure, meaning three concentric walls. The fort was inhabited as far back as approx 1,500.
We take a slight detour on our return journey to Kilronan via The Worm Hole or Poll na peist, a really impressive structure cut out of the limestone slabs at the base of the cliffs.
Evening: Once back to our accommodation you will have some free time to possibly explore the craft shops and see the knitwear the Aran islands are famous for. Dinner and some music will end a fantastic day on Inis Mor.
Day 3: Morning ferry from Inish Mor to Rossaveal, Cycle in Connemara – Clifden
Morning; After the journey by ferry from Inis Mor to Rossaveal we will travel to Clifden, where we will settle into our accommodation and have something light to eat. The journey from Rossaveal , is something to be savoured, taking in parts of the Wild atlantic Way and passing under the spectacular twelve bens Mountains.
Afternoon; After settling in and having a snack to keep you going, our cycle route from Clifden takes us across Roundstone bog, an area scoured by glaciers with hundreds of tiny lakes, and into Roundstone village. Roundstone village has the rugged, glacially sculpted backdrop of Errisbeg Mountain, and a visit to Connemara would not be complete without a visit to the harbour village of Roundstone.
South of the village the crescent-shaped beaches of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay and the beautiful headland between them, reminiscent of the Burren landscape, is a perfect place to stop and have a picnic lunch.
After a well deserved rest and picnic at Dogs bay, the route leads us back to Clifden through Ballconeely, along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Evening; Clifden is a lively, traditional west of Ireland town. There are many options here for food, drink, miusic and dance. The town has a huge variety of craft shops also with many local traditional crafts for sale.
Day 4: Kayaking, SUP or Coasteering – Ballynakill Bay
Morning; After a hearty Irish breakfast you will get to spend a half day Kayaking, stand up paddle boarding or coasteering from Bundouglas, a tiny golden beach on Ballynakill Bay. This headland is carved out with tiny inlets, rich in sea caves and sea stacks .This section of coast will give you the chance to explore them all, up close.
Afternoon / evening; Back on dry land again, we will make our way back to Clifden, along the edge of Streamstown Bay, along the Wild Atlantic Way, for a well deserved rest. A late lunch, and maybe even a few pints. Clifden is famous for its seafood, so maybe some mussels or oysters and a pint of the black stuff would end a seafaring day on the right note.
Day 5: Inishboffin Island – Walk on white beaches
Morning; A short drive to Cleggan from Leenane and we will catch the 11am ferry to Inishboffin.
Afternoon; After the short twenty minute ferry journey and settling into your accommodation on Inishboffin , we will do a walk of the Westquarter loop , which takes us along ancient bogroads and white gold beaches. This trail provides spectacular views south to Inishark and the Galway mainland and eventually joins the ‘Low’ road along Bofin Harbour. Along this trail you will have views of the Island’s blow holes and sea arch, sea stags where the Island seal colony can be seen, the Dún More Cliffs and Iron Age promontory fort ruins, picturesque Trá Gheal beach and famine road.
Walk: easy Distance 8km, ascent 80 m
Evening; Inishboffin is world renowned for its traditional Irish music and there will be a choice of pubs to listen to music and possibly even dance.
Day 6: Full day walking Inishboffin; Cloonamore & Middlequarter Loop
Walk easy – moderate Distance 12km, Ascent 200m
Morning & Afternoon; The Cloonamore Loop follows bog roads and along the beautiful East End Beach, visiting St Colman’s 14th Century Chapel and Church Lough. This is a very fertile valley sitable for reed beds and other vegetation, which in turn provide cover, food and nest sites for a huge variety of birds.
Todays walk also goes over Inishbofin’s second highest point, which on a clear day offers panoramic views of Achill Island , Inishturk Island and Clare Island, the Twelve Bens, the Maumturk Mountains and Croagh Patrick, the trail visits some of Inishbofin’s historic sites from the Iron and Bronze Age.
The Blueway is a network of water trails at which you can to experience a variety of water based activities, including kayaking and snorkelling, in a safe controlled environment. These activities are not included in your tour but can be organised for the afternoon of your full day on Innishboffin.
The rocky coastline hosts a large variety of sea life including beadlet, anemones, starfish, limpet, mussels, barnacles, starfish, spider crabs and hermit crabs.
Inishbofin harbour is sheltered from most winds other those from the south west, however the inner harbour beyond the old pier remains sheltered at all times. It is possible to land on the beaches to the east of the fort and also to loop back across the harbour, paying attention to boat movements in the area. This round trip is approx. 2 km in length.
Your guide will be able to advise you on providers and perhaps even help you price and book activities.
Day 7: Ferry Inishboffin to Cleggan; 8.15am or 9am depending on day of week.
Depart for Dublin
Today unfortunately is our last day in the west of Ireland on this trip and we will make a stop as we make our way back to Dublin.
Slan agus beannacht (Goodbye and blessings)
Here is a short list of extras you will need to bring along for this walking holiday.
N.B. Ireland’s climate is of a moderate type and suited to walking all year round. Although it is quite changeable so starting a walk on a fine clear morning may not be the case for the afternoon.
- Hill walking Boots
- Rucksack for walks (25L)
- Walking Trousers (Not Jeans)
- Waterproofs (Just in Case)
- Walking Socks
- Thermal top / T-shirt (Not Cotton)
- Sun Cream
About the walks, activities and fitness levels:
The walks on this tour are of a mixed level with the option on some days for an easier type walk.
All the walks are taken at a pace to suit the group.
The cycling and SUP (Stand Up Paddle boarding) are completely optional and are of an easy type level of activity.
The groups can range from 6 to 16 in size with a mixed level of fitness and age usually.
If the weather is to bad on a certain day to do the suggested walk, then the guide will suggest an alternative one.
The Guide will have the final say on the day of the chosen walk for the safety of the group.
We choose our accommodation very carefully and use a mix of quality Guest houses and hotels.
The accommodation we use are well used to us bringing them guests after a days walk or activity and know that they somewhere comfortable to relax and freshen up.
Breakfasts are included and there is a wide selection to choose from including a Full Irish, fruit, cereals etc.
Lunches for the walks: We will stop in the mornings at Delis or shops to get these.
Evening Meals A known restaurant or Pub will be suggested for evening meals in the places and towns you visit.