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Walking in Connemara

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Connemara offers a fantastic variety of walking, including mountains over 700 metres – though remember the nearest rescue team is in Galway. A good map and guidebook for serious walkers is The Mountains of Connemara, available from local bookshops and tourist offices, with a 1:50,000 scale map derived from aerial photography and fieldwork by Tim Robinson, and an excellent guide to eighteen walks of varying length and difficulty by Joss Lynam. The Ordnance Survey has recently resurveyed the area, producing their own maps at 1:50,000.

A good introduction to the Maam Turks, with fantastic views of the Twelve Bens across Lough Inagh, would be the ascent of Cnoc na hUilleann and Binn Bhriocáin from the Inagh Valley back road north of Recess, on a three- to four-hour circuit described in The Mountains of Connemara (part of it on the Western Way). Also described are the classic Twelve Bens walk, the seven-hour Gleann Chóchan Horseshoe, starting from the Ben Lettery youth hostel and bagging six of the peaks; and the tough, high-level Maam Turks Walk, which traverses the range from north of Maam Cross to Leenane – it can be done in one very long day, but most people will want to do it in two, staying down in the Inagh Valley.

Mountains of Connemara also covers the waymarked Western Way, which runs for 50km from Oughterard to Leenane. This varied, low-level trail starts as a pleasant, sometimes boggy walk beside Lough Corrib, before crossing over from the village of Maam into the dramatic Inagh Valley, which runs between the Bens and the Turks. The walk can be done in two long days, with an overnight near Maam, or in the Inagh Valley.

Worthy short walks include the ascent of Errisbeg and other routes near Roundstone as described, the sky road from Clifden, a circuit of Inishbofin, the excellent trails at Connemara National Park and the climb up Tully Hill.

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