Going Green in Westport on a great bike ride
It was voted Best Place to Live in Ireland and last year was named as Ireland’s Top Tourism Town by Fáilte Ireland.
Tell anyone you are going to Westport for the weekend and they will inevitably reply: “Oh, you lucky thing!”
Everyone loves this Co. Mayo town near the shores of Clew Bay.
Even back in the 1840s tourists were raving about it, with English novelist William Thackeray calling it “the most beautiful view I ever saw in the world”.
Today it has a reputation for being the outdoor capital of Ireland and draws in thousands of visitors keen to sample its many activities.
Croagh Patrick, which stands majestically over the town, was once the top draw for hikers and outdoor lovers, but now it has a major rival in the 42km Great Western Greenway, the country’s longest dedicated cycling and walking route.
This was the reason for my recent visit and on the morning I called into Clew Bay Bike Hire in the town, a group of no less than 60 cyclists of all ages arrived in the shop just after me.
The Greenway has been a massive boost to tourism all the way from Westport to Achill, including the towns of Newport and Mulranny.
Bike hire costs just €22.50 for the whole day from this company, but this includes a minibus ride all the way to Achill so you can ride back to Westport with the wind behind you. Visitors are, of course, free to bring their own bikes.
Rain was predicted for the day I took the Greenway, which runs along a former railway line at the foot of the Nephin Mountains, but the clouds disappeared on the way to Achill and the sun shone for the rest of the day.
The stunning bike ride took me just over four hours with a couple of stops along the way. The route is well provided for with cafes, pubs and hotels.
It was a fabulous day, tiring but exhilarating. I was able to relax in the lovely Clew Bay Hotel on James Street in Westport town centre, where my batteries were recharged with a couple of pints and excellent dinners on the two nights I stayed. I would recommend the goat’s cheese tart or crispy beef spring rolls as starters and the delicious sea trout special.
The following day saw me take to the water with Clew Bay Kayaking, another fun adventure fast growing in popularity.
An expert guide takes you out to sea to explore the wild and rugged coastline and some of the 365 islands in the bay.
If you are a confirmed landlubber you could try Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park for the family or even try your hand at zip-wiring or zorbing in the grounds.
Westport itself is a gorgeous town with its tree-lined mall along the Carrowbeg River and its famous Octagon, the setting for several of the town’s multitude of pubs, cafes and restaurants.
You never tire of this town, especially if the sun is shining. :
This is the most beautiful view I have ever seen
For information on the town, contact Destination Westport (www.destinationwestport.com), a group of accommodation providers, restaurants and tourist attractions who have come together to promote the town.