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.

County Galway
12 reviews
Grade Moderate
Length 55 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. 52.428547, -9.319512 / 53.613274, -9.667906

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
Web: www.thewesternway.ie


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

Slí an Iarthair or The Western Way in Connemara - Folding Landscapes

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.

12 trail reviews
Write your own review of this trail

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

Dave from Galway

I hiked the trail from Mam Ean to Lennane and back over 2 days this week - approximately 20k each day - with my 10 year old son and took around 5 hours each way. It was a great hike divided into 4 main sections. The first piece leaves the car park at Mam Ean and descends towards Lough Inagh. Most of this section is on a gravel road - we didn't see anyone or any car on either day. The scenery looking down into the lake is breathtaking. The second section cuts through bog land between the 12 Bens on the left and the Mamturks on the right - it is very barren and open but equally as breathtaking. After 2.5 hours, we left the bog and entered into forest for the next section. This piece takes you through a combination of sparse and then dense forestry complete with small waterfalls...it is incredibly peaceful. The final section, for the last hour, leaves the forest and ascends to a point overlooking Killary Harbour. The trail then swings down into the village of Lennane (the final 1/2K is on the main road).

The 4 sections offer completely different experiences and scenery and are all well worth the effort.

We returned the same route the folowing morning and enjoyed the experience just as much. I would highly recommend as 2 5 hour hikes split with overnight in Lennane.

sile kilduff from Dublin

I really enjoyed this trail - great mix - from wild exposed remoteness to gentle country lanes. I started in Oughterard (great bakery / cafe by the bus stop), I took the Glann road to be close to the Corrib, wonderful gentle winding quiet roads, lots of streams, after about 12 miles it goes into track and woodland and board walk over the bog to Maam Cross.

From Maam Bridge to Inagh is also wonderful...starts off on quiet roads and is more hilly than the day before. Lots of stone walled sheep filled fields. Then it gets very wild and remote as you head up to the pilgrim church at Mamean. Very peaceful and lovely trail walking as you climb up. Over the top and you get a wonderful view of the Inagh valley. Stop off at Inagh Lodge for a warm welcome from Maura and crab claws and french apple tart!

The last section goes from Inagh to Leenane. The track is rocky and can be very boggy. But nothing beats the last five km into Leenane, descending on great trail with the fjord and Mweelrea on the left, guaranteed a bit of sunshine and a bit of rain!

In Leenane have a pint with Tony in Hamiltons, a chat to Shane in the Blackberry over Irish stew or Chris in the Village Grill. Leenane Hotel is great for food and seaweed baths. Also wonderful about 15k further is the Delphi Lodge.

Lilian from Germany

Great trail!

First part of the first section a bit boring and hard on the joints: From Oughterard you have to walk about 10km (or is it more?) on the road, before you can enjoy the beautiful scenery on planks, that lead you all the way to the Road to Maum, where to you have to walk on the road again.

The second section leads you through the Mountains to Leenane, this is the most diversified section, more hills. It starts in Maum, where you ascent to a pass in between the mountains on the footsteps of St. Patrick to a Holly Well. Descending on the other side you will reach another road to follow north, which later leads you back on the trail around and then through the mountains to Leenane, where you can see shepards at work if you're lucky.

All in all a great walk and pretty doable in two days.

Have you done this trail?
Tell us what you think