Cycling the Entire Greenway on the Summer Solstice
Before moving to Westport, I had, of course, heard about the Westport Greenway. With the growing success of the Wild Atlantic Way cycling lanes and offroad trails were being built all along the Western coast of Ireland; as well as railway lines all around Ireland being transformed into beautiful cycle lanes.
The above video is actually when I cycled The Greenway, but stopped off at the
6 Gourmet Food Producers located along the Trail
So I assumed the Greenway in Co. Mayo was similar to the other cycling trails I had cycled in Ireland; I was wrong.
Little did I know that the Greenway in Co. Mayo had been established long before many of the other cycling lanes that were being developed of late.
Because of this headstart, the Greenway in Co. Mayo is of an incredible standard. Bike companies, tour operators, cafes, signs, pavements, greenery, have all had decades to grow and establish, organise and refine.
There are endless trails all around Co. Mayo bringing you leisurely through some of Ireland’s most scenic beauty. Because of Co. Mayo’s unique location and history, the Greenway brings you past cliffs and mountains, castles and forts, forests, rivers and more.
During the summer of moving to Westport (to develop the Bodhi Co-Working Space and Investment Centre in conjunction with the Middle Way Hostel), I had cycled some small sections of the Greenway but had not tackled the entire length from Westport to Achill Island. This was something that had to be done.
Cycling the Greenway
On the year I moved to Westport (2019) the Summer Solstice fell on a Friday. With the sun staying high in the sky for most of Ireland’s summer evenings till 10pm anyway, I knew this day would afford me that little bit of extra sunlight to ensure I could cycle the entirety of The Greenway.
Clew Bay Bike Hire
I popped into Clew Bay Bike Hire to see what my options were. I decided I was going to get the bus from Westport to Mulranny Hotel and then cycle from Mulranny Hotel to Keem Bay and back to Westport.
I hopped on a bus with tourists from all over the world and was driven to Mulranny Hotel. I grabbed a quick coffee, enjoying the view from the hotel.
Before I started my day of cycling I had a quick stroll along Mulranny Beach which is located right in front of Mulranny Hotel.
Cycling from Mulranny Hotel to Achill Island
The first-hour cycling into Achill Island was delightful as so many tourists were gathered together. We were all chatting to each other as we made our way slowly in the morning sun towards the Island.
Once we arrived at the entrance of the Island I knew I had to say my goodbyes as with a long day of cycling ahead of me and I knew had to up my pace. I stocked up on water, dropped the gears and hit the road.
Cycling Achill Island to Keel
During the next 45 minutes, I almost got nervous. After cycling past the first Island village, you come into a vast land of open bog and mountain with nothing around you.
Cycling up a slow gradient with the morning sun above me, I was fairly pushing myself. I could hardly see a house around me, nevermind a village. Of course, this is the beauty of the Greenway. With nothing but you, the road and fresh air it forces you to face your thoughts.
It is very rare in our busy lives where we have alone time with our thoughts and when these moments come, I feel it is best to be in the fresh air, outdoors and pushing yourself physically.
Finally, you come over a hill and Keel Bay comes into view. The upward slope finally gives in and offers you an incredibly long roll all the live long way into the village. It was the first of many beautiful experiences I had that day.
From reading about the Gourmet Greenway, I spotted Calvey’s butchers. I decided to pop in and say hello and ask why their meat was so “gourmet”. The lady of a shop was great fun and delightfully explained why her Achill Mountain lamb was the most delicious lamb you will ever taste.
She also told me she sells disposable BBQ’s so buying some lamb and heading to Keel Bay has now been added to my Westport Bucket List.
In need of a good feed, I stopped off at the Beehive Cafe, (another food producer and best stop on the Gourmet Greenway). With the sun shining and birds chirping it was one of the nicest lunches I’d ever had.
The Beehive Cafe
It is not often I can enjoy a lunch on my own, but on this day breathing fresh sea air and body pumping endorphins, I could have sat there happily for hours. However, I had a lot more exploring to do 🙂
Cycling Keel Bay to Keem Bay
Fed, watered and coffeed up I cycled off along the coastal roads of Achill Island to Keem Bay. It’s funny how on a cycling journey of this kind you almost glimpse the power of meditation. On paper, I should not have been physically fit enough to cycle this amount of time. However, I feel your mind is so distracted by the sensory overload of air, coast, scenery and more, that your body goes into a physical autopilot of sorts allowing your mind to take in the beauty of your surroundings.
The tough cycle from Keel to Keem didn’t seem to bother me and with music banging in my AirPods, I found a new gear as I raced along the Wild Atlantic Coast of the Island.
An hour later, exhausted and exhilarated, I came to the vantage point overlooking Keem Bay. With the afternoon closing in I knew I had to begin making my way back to Westport.
Cycling Achill Island to Newport
The off-road routes of Achill and The Greenway are simply spectacular, bringing you over a multitude of terrain. Rolling under greenery, crossing bridges, my body moved into a new high as I made my way from Achill to Newport.
Blue Bicycle Tea Room
When I finally made it to Newport, I was starving, so popped into the Blue Bicycle Tea Room. There I got to know the owner of the cafe who gave me a tour of her house upstairs, which had been in her family for over a hundred years! The standard of her food, coffee and service, was impeccable.
Kelly's Kitchen Corner
Having been cycling for hours, I still had space for more and decided to try a cake across the road in another gourmet spot along the Greenway, Kelly’s Kitchen Corner.
The Grainne Uaile
Leaving Newport to make the final stretch home to Westport I crossed the Newport bridge and spotted the famous pub, The Grainne Uaile. I had heard about this pub and was curious. I decided I had to pop inside for something. I decided to enjoy one last espresso.
Cycling from Newport to Westport
With the evening closing in, temperatures slightly dropping, and the beauty of off-road trails in nature changing to off-road trails beside roads, the last few hours was getting tough on the legs. I was never as happy when Croagh Patrick finally came into view and I knew I was in the home stretch.
Knowing I was in the last 45 minutes before reaching Westport, I found another gear and the cycle once again became delightful. My mind removed itself from my body and paining legs and I had adjusted to the temperature. I could feel the food and coffee finally kick in, while the evening air became warm and I began to appreciate the dark reds and oranges of the evening sky all around me.
With the evening clinging to its last sliver of light, I rolled into Westport town just before midnight. I had been cycling, taking photos, eating and drinking for over 12 hours. Maybe next time I’ll try an electric bike 😉
Cycling the Greenway offers a perfect balance of Inner Peace and Outdoor Adventure and I can’t recommend it enough 🙂
About the Author
- Welcome to the West! Episode 04, Thais from France! - March 5, 2020
- Welcome to the West! Episode 03. Lüt from Germany! - March 4, 2020
- Welcome to the West! Episode 2: Gigi from Mexico! - March 4, 2020