There are so many outdoor and adventurous activities to try your hand at in Co Mayo, but one experience you won’t want to miss is walking or cycling the Great Western Greenway.

The most well-known cycle route in Mayo is without a doubt the Great Western Greenway. The 42km route from Westport to Achill (or vice versa) is a stunner! The Greenway follows part of the 19th-century Midlands Great Western Railway route and it is exceptional, off road and with insane views. Walk, bring your own bike or hire one, but do come and experience its magic for yourself.

Distance: 42km

Best section: Achill to Mulranny

Cycle time: A full day for the entire route

Elevation: Gentle gradients

Access points: See map of the Great Western Greenway below

Great Western Greenway

Route Breakdown

Achill to Mulranny

  • Distance: 13 km
  • Start/Trailhead: In Mallaranny an official access point is located to the right just off the N59 travelling to Bangor. An access point is also located to the rear of the Mulranny Park Hotel. On Achill Sound an official access point is located at Óstán Oileán Acla/Achill Island Hotel at the gateway to Achill Island.
  • Estimated Time Cycling: 1-1.5hrs
  • Estimated Time Walking: 2-2.5hrs

The Waterford Greenway: Everything You Need to Know

Mulranny to Newport

  • Distance: 18 km
  • Start/Trailhead  In Newport an official access point is located to the left just off the N59 travelling to Mallaranny. In Mallaranny an official access point is located to the right just off the N59 travelling to Bangor.
  • Estimated Time Cycling: 2-2.5hrs
  • Estimated Time Walking: 5-5.5hrs

Newport to Westport

  • Distance: 11 km
  • Start/Trailhead: In Westport an official access point is located to the right just off the N59 travelling in the direction of Newport approximately 500m from Westport town centre. In Newport an official access point is located to the left just off the N59 travelling in the direction of Westport located approximately 2km from Newport town.
  • Estimated Time Cycling: 1-1.5hrs
  • Estimated Time Walking: 3-3.5hrs
Great Western Greenway
Image: Garret McCormack/Tourism Ireland

Great Western Greenway Bike Hire

There are loads of places to hire a bike from, including the Greenway Bicycle hireClew Bay bike hire and Westport bike hire. The going rate for an adult bike is about €20 and €15 for a child. If you want to include the shuttle bus service then the price is €30 for an adult. Electric bikes are also available.

Great Western Greenway

Top Tips for cycling the Western Greenway

  • Be realistic: If 42km seems a little too ambitious, then you can opt to take on a more manageable section of the route. Covering the section from Mulranny to Achill (or vice versa) is particularly lovely.
  • Packing: Some essentials to pack are a helmet (if you are bringing your own bike), water, snacks, fully charged phone, a light backpack, rain jacket, layers, sunscreen, sunglasses and padded shorts if you are doing the full route.
  • Be safe: Adhere to the rules of the road even though you are off road; cycle on the left, pass on the right and use your bell.
  • Beware: At Newport town users of the Greenway share the street with live traffic for a distance of 1.5km.

Accommodation

You have your pick of great accommodation along the Western Greenway. For hotels, we recommend the Mulranny Park Hotel or Newport House Hotel, but there are plenty more options available here. If you want to camp, there is also a ton of options. In Westport, there’s Westport House and Adventure Park. As for Achill, there’s Keel Sandybanks Caravan & Camping Park. There’s also several airbnb options in both Westport and Achill as well as hostels, our favourite being the Pure Magic Lodge.

Great Western Greenway
Image: Gardiner Mitchell/Tourism Ireland

How to get there

If you are driving from Dublin, take the N5 or M6. From Galway, it’s the N84 and from Belfast, it’s the A4. Trains run to Westport from most of the main train stations around the country. Achill Island is a further hour from Westport on the R319 and N59.

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By Orla O'Muiri

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