Scrumptious food, epic views, a hidden beach and buckets of fresh sea air on Achill island – seriously what are you waiting for?!
It is easy to see why Achill Island has inspired the work of so many artists and writers. When the sun shines, it is a tropical paradise, while in stormy conditions, there are few places that will leave you feeling more invigorated.
Crystal clear waters lap the shores of Ireland’s biggest island while piercing green peaks loom high above. Thanks to the Great Western Greenway, which will deliver you on two wheels to its doorstep, it is an area that is firmly on the map for lots of us.
No matter how many times we visit, we will continue to be blown away by the beauty of Keem Bay, stand with our mouths hanging open in awe as we take in the stunning panorama laid out before us when we reach the top of Croaghaun (which, incidentally, are amongst the highest sea cliffs in Europe) and gorge ourselves on freshly caught seafood in one of the island’s cosy pubs. What can we say? Achill rocks!
Tucked away on the north side of the island, the only ways to access Annagh Bay are on foot or by boat (on a fine day), which means that even on a warm summer’s day, this place is blissfully quiet.
You will be wowed from the word go on this hike which starts when you park your car (or your bike!) at Lough Acorrymore. Before you don your hiking boots to head off, soak up the magnificence of the rugged cliffs that back the lake. Then head north over the small bridge across the corry lake and onto one of the myriad sheep tracks that meander towards the saddle. Make sure and turn around once in a while to take in the sweeping views across to Keel Strand and the south side of the island. Nothing will quite prepare you for what lies on the north side of the island though. Down below the steep bank of ferns and heather, the Atlantic stretches out before your eyes.
On a sunny day, you’ll be wowed by the light show as the water morphs and changes from vibrant blue to a tropical green and then turquoise blue as it reaches the shores of a crisp, white sandy beach. Set a couple of metres back from the beach, divided by a thin stretch of electric green lies Lough Nakeeroge, the lowest corry in Ireland. Your only decision now is whether to take a wild swim in the corry or the sea!
Despite the fact that it feels so remote, Annagh Bay is very easy to access. If you are heading along the road to Keem, take the right turn signposted Reservoir and follow the road until it goes no further. You need to cross the small bridge over Lough Acorrymore, following the sheep tracks up the side of the hill, right up to the saddle which you will clearly see up ahead if the weather is fine. Once at the saddle you need to head down the other side, taking the path around the left side of Lough Nakeeroge towards the small beach. When the weather plays ball, the beach makes a fantastic wild camping spot! The walk to the beach takes about an hour and a half over rough terrain. On a fine day, it’s very easy to find but bring your compass and OSI Discovery Series Map 30 to be on the safe side.
Where to stay:
Pure Magic on Achill offers rustic charm, a comfortable bed, good food and a bit of craic to boot. Late night sing songs are a definite possibility and owner Francois might well treat you to one of his famous renditions of a local song on his accordion – we promise you will never meet a more Irish Frenchman! In addition to accommodation and food, Pure Magic also offers kite-surfing and stand-up paddling boarding. Also be sure and ask for hints and tips from the manager and local woman Teresa. She’s the one who set us on our way to Annagh Bay, and to the fantastic little wagon her sister Catherine runs beside Keem beach selling yummy boxty and waffles. The perfect post swim treat!
B&B at the Pure Magic Lodge costs €35; a one hour
SUP lesson costs €30 and a one-hour private kitesurfing lesson costs €75.
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