Western Way - Galway

There is an additional 3km between Leenaun and the County Mayo border for those walking both the Galway and Mayo Sections of the Western Way.
Closure Notices:
- Due to the dangerous condition of the boardwalk between Curran Beag and Maam Cross, this section of the Western Way is currently closed.
- The footbridge at Tullyconor (close to Killary Adventure centre), in the Lettershanbally Coillte forest, is currently closed until further notice due to safety issues. GPS Location: 53.580863, -9.766917

County Galway
15 reviews
Grade Moderate
Length 59.3 km
Time 2 days
Format Linear
Ascent 533 m
Dogs Allowed No
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
Finish Point
Nearest Town to Start Oughterard
Grid Ref. M 123 428 / L 879 620
Lat. and Long. 53.428599, -9.319421 / 53.613532, -9.668461

This 55 km linear walking route provides an excellent introduction for walkers to the beautiful and scenic wildernesses of Connemara in County Galway in the west of Ireland. Starting in the famous angler's town of Oughterard on Lough Corrib, it follows the western edge of the lake, one of the longest, and the second largest lake in Ireland, northwards into a magnificent wilderness of mountain and bog to reach civilisation again at the village of Maam Bridge. It was from here that the Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo planned the modern roads of Connemara in the early 19th century. From Maam Bridge the route crosses the rugged Maumturk Mountains by a pass, at the top of which is Maum Ean, a holy place that has attracted pilgrims since the early Christian period. Descending again into the beautiful Inagh Valley the route passes between the Twelve Bens and the Maumturks, and through a sad landscape that was, before the Great Famine, well populated by cottiers, to reach the shores of Killary Harbour and the picturesque village of Leenane, one of the locations for the movie The Field. Overnight accommodation is limited along the route, so careful planning is necessary. The terrain consists of quiet roads, bog roads, open moorland, forestry tracks, mountain paths and about 3km of timber bog bridge: some parts of the route can be very wet and boggy, particularly after a rainy period, when there is a fast run-off from the Connemara mountains. The total aggregate ascent over the route is about 533m.

Trail Management

Brendan O'Malley, Rural Recreational Officer, Forum Connemara CLG, Letterfrack, Co. Galway. Tel: 00353(0) 95-41116


Car parking
At Start - on street in Oughterard
At End - on street in Leenaun

Dogs are not allowed on off-road sections of the trail
30 kms or 54% of the Way follows local roads.

Map Guides

Map Guides

The Western Way Oughterard to Westport - EastWest Mapping

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheets 37, 38, 44* (*ca 1.8km), 45
Public Transportation

Public Transportation

At Start: None At End: Very limited bus service Check with Bus Eireann.

15 trail reviews
Write your own review of this trail

John Pucknell from United Kingdom

I found the Galway section of the Western Way full of beauty whether looking down on Lough Corrib and Killary harbour, views from the Mam Ean pass, or walking up the broad valley between the Maumturk mountains and the Twelve Bens, discussing the weather with a shepherd on the way. St Patrick's Chapel adds extra interest, and Keane's foodstore at Maum provided sustenance on route. At the end of my walk, camping on the way, I was glad of a coffee and cake in the cafe in Leenane, a meal at the local bar and a bed at B&B.
More about my trip at https://johnpone2.blogspot.com/search/label/Western%20Way .

Conor from Dublin

I walked a section of the Western Way in August 2021 from Bellacorick, Mayo to Oughterard, Galway. The hike took me 7 days of walking in total with the Galway section of the trail taking me 3 days.

The trail is mostly road, bog road, or forestry tracks with some lovely but infrequent sections of grassy farm road and bog bridge. The views are spectacular but the weather plays a big role in this. I had foggy weather which spoiled the views a lot so be aware that this hike is substantially different depending on the visibility.

There are some brilliant sections on this trail which include the hike out of Leenane, the hike over Maumeen (including a little chapel), and the longest section of bog bridge (boardwalk) I've ever seen in Lackavrea forest.

The walk down the Lough Inagh valley (while on road) was spectacular. I walked with a setting sun behind me which illuminated the valley and the nearby Twelve Bens. It goes to show how the weather plays such a big role. I was walking on very long road which would normally be discouraging but the views were spectacular.

I think overall this trail just spends so much time on road and forestry access trail that I can't give it much more than 3 stars. It's close to 4 but I have to stick with 3.


Dave from Galway from Galway

This is a review of the section we did Map1&2: Oughterard to Maumwee Lough/R336 car park. I'm an experienced hillwalker but I've been itching to do a waymarked trail; which Ireland has in abundance. The only thing that had stopped me in the past was logistics as these trails are poorly or not served by public transport.

The solution was 2 cars; one parked at Oughterard and the other at the car park opposite Maumwee Lough on the R336. This meant a late start (12.20pm) but we had the comfort of not needing to rush to make a potential bus and overall we weren't comfortable with taking a bus during this pandemic.

Map 1 is completely on uninspiring tarmac bohreens which do, however, offer glimpses of Lough Corrib every once in a while. The bohreens were generally quiet but we did need to stand in from time to time as traffic passed. We were the only walkers on this section of the trail except for a lady who passed us and was frantically looking for someone's house; she reminded me of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland especially as there was not a house in sight. We stopped to boil some water for tea at a small shore on Lough Corrib which offered lovely views of Mount Gable and Lackavrea.

We eventually got to the Hill of Doon carpark which again provided an expansive view of Lough Corrib and particularly a large island with "tropical" vegetation that made it look like it would be more at home in the Indian Ocean.

On Map 2 now the tarmac ended and we got into a green road. We met an elderly couple that had gone wrong when attempting to hike up Lackavrea whilst following Paul Phelan's Connemara & Mayo guidebook. I explained to them how they had gone wrong but told them that they might as well visit the Hill of Doon and then return the way they came.

We passed over a stile and entered Lackavrea forest. Eventually we got onto bog bridge which was a pleasant alternative to the hard surfaces previously encountered. The forest walk with great views of Lackavrea and Corkogemore was the highlight of this stage. The peace and tranquility under the gentle autumn sunshine was incredibly rewarding. Not having to rush meant we could thoroughly enjoy the bench by the waterfall. We continued back on the bog bridge and crossed over a stile onto the R336 before being reunited with the car at 6.45pm. 6.5hrs hiking and approximately 20km. We are looking forward to doing the more scenic Maps 3-6 soon by using a similar 2-car method.

jason from Dublin

Did the section from leenane to lough Inagh lodge today . Stunning scenery and there has been alot of work put into this section of the trail, lovely variation of woods to wide open spaces , with trail very well maintained , last section towards lough Inagh is lovely.

Marie from Mayo

I have walked about half of the leenane to Oughterard route. My favourite section is the last section coming from Glencroft into killary just about an hour walk. There is a hop on hop off bus at leenane to bring you back to Letterfrack .

Alan from Dublin

I walked from Leenane to Oughterard in late September 2015 (the opposite direction to most descriptions). I found the trail in good condition, with good waymarking and plenty of boardwalks and bridges crossing the parts that might otherwise be rather watery. Considering the isolated and dramatic scenery it passes through, the trail itself is not especially difficult so you can concentrate on enjoying the views.

The section from Leenane to Maum Bridge is a wonderful walk - even if you are not doing the full Way this would make a great one-day outing. Once you start ascending near Leenane it is all off-road or on very quiet back roads, and there are great views at almost every point, especially above Killary Harbour and from Maum Ean.

There is a short section on the fairly busy R336 road south of Maum Bridge that I didn't particularly like, followed by another enjoyable section through remote bog and forest to the Hill of Doon viewpoint on Lough Corrib - top marks to whoever put a bench overlooking a waterfall in Lackavrea Forest, it makes a great place to stop for lunch! The last section to Oughterard is a long stretch on roads - there is very little traffic but it is a little dull compared with the rest of the trail. If you arranged transport to or from the carpark at Hill of Doon you wouldn't miss much by skipping this bit. I have given 4 stars to the two-day trail, but Leenane to Maum Bridge considered as a one-day walk would definitely deserve 5 stars.

In case it is of interest to anyone my photos of the trail are at http://www.pbase.com/alangrant/ireland_western_way

Peter from Belgium

We did the trail in 2 days.

First day a bit too much tarmac, from Oughterard to Lackavrea Forest (Doirin an Aonchrainn). A great walk by Lough Corrib, and from Maumwee Lough to Knocknagur.

The trail through the Lackavrea forest is a 4km path over two wooden beams.

Don't count on shops nor pubs, except one pub at Maum Bridge.

We stayed at Tiernakill Farmhouse B&B, we got a great welcome.

With the exception of the Mam Ean crossing, this trail is easy, but the weather makes it sometimes though. The Mam Ean crossing is of moderate difficulty.

John from Limerick

We did most of this (and the Mayo) trail recently, during a few dry days in a rather wet July. The Western Way, Galway is quite short (Oughterard to Leenaun) and would be a two-day walk, but there is little or no accommodation half-way, so we started at Maam Cross to make it a (long) one-day trip. The way is low-level and quite varied: some tarmac - quiet enough, some rough track and some forestry trails. The most scenic bits are probably around St Patrick's Chapel and the last bit, coming down to Leenaun, which is itself well worth a visit. It would be interesting to combine this route with some of the surrounding peaks, to make it more of a mountaineering trek.

Jim from Dublin

Did this in a long day, hitching back to my car the following day. Beautiful scenery especially in the Inagh Valley (but also Maum). For some, too much will be on roads but at least they are quiet. Very good option if hills are fogged out. I stayed in a hostel near Leenane but plenty of options. Left GPS route on MountainViews and wikiloc but well signposted.

Breandán from Tipperary

Hiked this trail St. Patrick's weekend all in all a lovely trail and I had no problems camping along the way. I took the Glaan road from Uachtar Ard I would recommend this route over the one on the map as you get some nice views of the lake. The trail could benefit from incorporating a few mountain hikes considering how many peaks you pass along the way also an alternative route which ends in Kylemore would be nice. I turned off at the start of the last stage to head to Kylemore, not only because I wanted to see Kylemore put also because there is a much more regular bus service from Leitir Fraic back to Galway City.

In conclusion a very good trail which is doable, would be better if the option to do some mountain hikes was included as well as developing a route towards Leitir Fraic

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