It was a miserable morning when I got up and I wasn’t going to finish the trail just for the sake of it so we had a leisurely breakfast and pottered about for a couple of hours. By then it had cleared up enough that the walk would be a pleasure rather than a chore so I sorted myself out and set off.
The old station is at the back of the hotel and while the station building itself is in poor shape, this water tower has survived in a reasonable state. You can see the bike rack used by hotel guests here.
There is also a bit of the platform visible here.
I set off at a reasonable pace but not too hectic as I had a few aches and pains from yesterday. I quickly left the village behind and this section was properly set up on the old rail alignment so there were a few deep cuttings and over-bridges along the way.
There were some spectacular views of the countryside as we emerged from the cutting just outside Mulranny.
This bit of countryside is almost an island with only a kilometer or so attaching it to the mainland so the coastline comes in a long way. At this point we are about 8 kilometers from the open sea.
At this stage I was settling into the walk and making good progress. It was very enjoyable with a proper off-road track and interesting scenery. There were quite a few cyclists about – it being a Saturday on a bank holiday weekend, but I wasn’t seeing any walkers at all aside from one or two strolling a kilometer or two out of Mulranny. The going stayed good.
The heather was in fine form.
After about 4 km we headed inland for a bit with a trek across fairly desolate moorland and then came back to the sea.
At this point it all came kind of crashing to end. At about the 7km point, the route joined the main road into the Achill and it was a nasty kilometer or so right on the edge of the Achill road with no footpath. At one stage my hat was blown off by a truck thundering by about three feet away from me but I did recover it. The good news is that they are widening the road here so there will probably be a proper path in place by the end of the summer but that didn’t do me much good.
When that was over, I decided to take a short break to eat a sandwich. Although it was’t a long walk, it was lunchtime and I was getting a bit hungry. Shortly after getting started again, we left the main road behind and headed along the old route again.
For the next couple of kilometers it was sections like this alternated with short stretches of minor roads. At about the 10 km point we left the off-road sections altogether and the reset of the walk was on minor roads. There wasn’t any traffic though so it wasn’t really an imposition.
It was getting a bit of a trudge at this stage and I was counting down the kilometers. I started meeting a few walkers so it couldn’t be a lot longer. The path took a sharp turn to the left at about 13 km and we rejoined the main road. As I had somebody waiting for me in Achill and I didn’t really fancy trudging the 500m or so into Achill along the side of a main road, I bailed out at this stage as I had had enough of main roads.
My conclusions on the greenway were a bit mixed. It is a bit over-hyped and it would certainly not be worth making the journey to walk it. For the non-serious cyclist, it makes a lovely outing with relatively little interaction with traffic. The section between Newport and Mulranny is the best followed by Mulranny to Achill but I really wouldn’t be bothered with Westport to Newport again unless I determined to complete the whole route.
The canal route is a far preferable journey for walkers and I’ll be returning to that next month with the long section from Mullingar to Enfield although I may need to review my footwear situation before then.