Published: August 13th 2007August 13th 2007
I had originally planned to join Dirty Boots Treks for a three day hike in Connemara National Park but it was sadly cancelled due to lack of numbers. I didn’t want to miss out on the whole area though, so I headed to Clifden from Galway to spend a few days in the Connemara countryside. I didn’t do any wild hiking but it was still beautiful.
On the bus from Galway I met a French girl called Benedicte who was planning to stay at the same hostel. When we got to Clifden we left our packs at the hostel and set off on foot along the Sky Road, a 15km loop track that takes in the coastline north-west of Clifden and includes Connemara Castle. It was a lovely walk and we were accompanied the whole way by a local hound. I think she must make a practice of following tourists on this walk, as it led right past her house. I got a bit sunburned on the walk and we also met a kiwi lady from Rotorua who’d sold up everything she owned, quit her office job, and was traveling around the world, indefinitely. She must have been
in her late 40s, early 50s and had either just been left by her husband or he’d just died. I didn’t want to pry.
Clifden is a gorgeous town. It’s nestled in some wooded hills and looked over by a small church complete with steeples. Unfortunately, it’s also expanding (like all of Ireland), so photographs of the townscape were hopelessly marred by cranes and construction. Still, it was pretty.
I spent a day riding out to the north of Clifden. I had a more willing horse than I’d had in Killarney, so I had much more fun for less effort. It was a coastal ride so we had fun galloping up the beaches.
I also spent a day out on Inishboffin - the Isle of the White Cow (Inis Bo Fionn). It was a very empty island, with a little township at one end and a small sheltered harbour. There were no trees at all on the whole island and it was small enough to walk right around. From the high point there were fantastic views back to the mountains of Connemara in the distance. The whole island was mostly bogland where I saw my first old-style
peat cuttings. It’s protected so the industry is very small and restricted to traditional methods. I spent the day walking across the bogs which often felt like walking on clouds. I think that because it was such a dry summer, the moss of the bogs - usually 20 or 30 cm deep - was full of air and far firmer than it is when waterlogged. It would have been very difficult to walk on if it was wet.
There are more photos below