Western Way - Mayo

The Letterkeen to Derry and Derry to Bellacorick sections of this trail are now open.
Bellacorick to Ballycastle remains closed but is expected to reopen shortly.

County Mayo
3 reviews
Grade Moderate
Length 130.2 km
Time 5 days
Format Linear
Ascent 1350 m
Dogs Allowed No
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
Aasleagh near Leenaun
Finish Point
Nearest Town to Start Leenaun
Grid Ref. L 895 644 / G 105 377
Lat. and Long. 53.613532, -9.668461 / 54.28017, -9.37425

County Mayo is a rugged landscape of which thirty six percent consists of mountain, bog and lake. The county experienced the greatest depopulation of any county in Ireland during and after the Great Famine: the 388,000 inhabitants in 1841 had reduced to just over 100,000 by the late 20th century, and it is hard not to sense this flight from the land as you walk through the county's magnificent mountain and moorland landscapes. The route of the Mayo section of the Western Way is a linear 150 km walking route from Leenaun to the village of Ballycastle. It includes long sections on tarmac roads, including 8km on the N59 main road, but the views of the looming holy mountain of Croagh Patrick and the spectacular vista to the north over the many islands of Clew Bay makes up for it. Again north of Westport much of the route is on tarmac side roads, but once past the beautiful mountain-framed Lough Feeagh there is a tangible sense of moving away from €˜civilisation'. Soon the route enters one of Ireland's last wildernesses, the barony of Tirawley and the largest expanse of peatland area in the country, bordered on the west by the Nephin Beg mountain range. After a brief interruption at Bellacorick where a public road is crossed, the wilderness of Sheskin, heavily forested, is crossed before descending towards the town of Ballycastle with the Atlantic Ocean filling the northern horizon. Much of the route is on forestry tracks or moorland paths, and walkers should expect some very wet sections. The aggregate ascent is nearly 1700m, but there are no significant climbs.

Trail Management


Car parking
At Aasleagh Falls
At End - on street in Ballycastle

60 kms or 49% of the Way follows local roads. There may be issues with waymarking at some points along the trail.
***No dogs allowed along the Erriff River or on the off-road section between Sheeffry Bridge and Drummin*** .

Map Guides

Map Guides

A West of Ireland Walk Guide County Mayo The Western Way Slí an Iarthair - Mayo County Council
The Western Way Oughterard to Westport - EastWest Mapping

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheets 23, 31, 37 and 38
3 trail reviews
Write your own review of this trail

Conor from Dublin

I hiked a section of the Western Way (from Bellacorick, Mayo to Oughterard, Galway) in August 2021. The Sheskin bog section of the trail (between Bellacorick and Ballycastle) was closed when I went to hike it and the Ballina to Ballycastle section doesn't appeal to me anyway.

I spent four days hiking the Mayo section of this trail from Bellacorick to Leenane.

The trail surface is predominantly forestry access trail and road between Bellacorick and Westport. From Westport to Leenane the surfaces improve with the addition of some bog sections and a lovely climb over a mountain pass via Lugacollwee lake.

The best section of this trail was the two days between Westport and Leenane with stunning views of Croagh Patrick & Clew Bay. Leenane is also a wonderful town.

There is wild camping available in the Nephin Beg National Park at the Letterkeen Bothy. The Bothy itself is free to use and there is a dedicated wild camping spot 2km north along the Western Way.

I suspect your enjoyment of the trail is heavily dependent on the weather as the views are fantastic in good weather. If the clouds are down, you're just walking along roads & forestry track all day.


Peter from Belgium

We did the first part of this trail in two days, from Leenane to Westport, which concluded our 4 day hiking trail from Oughterard to Westport.

We were very lucky to have good weather.

Starting at Aasleagh Falls we followed the Erriff River till Houston Bridge, a very nice walk. After passing Tawnyard Forest you cross Barnaderg Mountain where you have great views.

After Sheefry Bridge you have the choice: continuing the road to Drummin, or take the path passing by Lugacolliwee Lough. We took the latter. However beware, this is the most difficult part of the trail. You need to be in shape, serious climbing ahead, and the weather needs to be good, otherwise you will not see the path. A magnificent trail and worth all the effort...

Next highlight is the hike from the road to Lough Nacorra, also a bit more difficult.

After passing Croagh Patrick, you start the very nice descent to Westport.


John from Limerick

We did the southern part of the Western Way, Mayo (northbound) - as far as Newport, combining it with the Western Way, Galway (northbound). The Galway section ends in the charming village of Leenaun and the Mayo section begins (officially) at Aasleagh Falls, a few km further along the N59. This is a narrow, winding and moderately busy road so an alternative route would be ideal; failing that, some signs on the road indicating to motorists to beware of walkers would be very desirable. Plan to walk this section as early in the morning as possible, before the tourist traffic builds up. The route to Westport, which is two fairly long days is outstanding, in parts. The route begins along the Erriff River, a vast improvement on the older route along the previously mentioned N59. A few km further on, a pathless but way-marked alternative via Lugacollwee is highly recommended (except in poor weather). Similarly, the ascent of Croagh Patrick is also recommended, possible from where the route passes the Mayo Mountain rescue centre, south of the mountain; this is not officially given as an alternative, which it perhaps should be. A slightly tedious trek finishes to reach Westport, but with great views of Clew Bay and all the facilities you could need are in the town; bus connections are also available. The next section, follows the Great Western Greenway cycle route, an easy and pleasant half-day to Newport; again a big improvement on the older, and longer, route via back roads. We hope to do the remoter northern section later. Overall, the route is varied and interesting and well marked. But bring a map and compass.

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