When I was asked to write this blog I was a little torn. Being passionate about your surroundings and local area can be a double edged sword. Much of North Mayo’s charm and appeal is its untouched and undiscovered locations and the more we grow as a nation the harder it becomes to find these areas of remoteness.
Telling everyone how great it is will inevitably attract more people. However I feel a great sense of pride when I meet people on their first visit to Ballina and they can’t believe how much it has to offer.
Kayaking, cycling or hiking around North Mayo it is easy to forget your surroundings and feel a real sense of wilderness – not an easy task in modern Ireland. Here I will share with you some of the reasons why I love this region so much and why you might too.
Getting here could not be easier. Bus, Train, Car, Plan! Daily flights into Ireland West Airport Knock mean you could leave your home in Manchester or London in the morning and be taking to the water or trails by the afternoon.
Kayaking under the canopy of Belleek Forest Park as it spills into the river on high tides with kingfisher birds whizzing over the water is a special experience, for even the most seasoned outdoor enthusiast.
Considering you are only five minutes’ drive from a busy town, it is without doubt a truly stunning place to lose yourself and to get in touch with nature. It’s also a perfect place to learn for beginners and first-time kayakers.
For the intermediate and advanced kayaker, North Mayo has some truly epic coastline to explore when the weather allows. The Stags of Broadhaven jut proudly from the cold Atlantic over 2km of shore, sea caves puncture the cliffs by the hundred from Erris Head to Downpatrick Head and golden beaches lie deserted and inaccessible from land around every corner.
Quiet and unassuming it is a pristine, little climbed and offers a real sense of adventure for anyone who hikes its gentle slopes. Amazing views over Lough Conn and Lough Cullen and over to Clew Bay are your reward on a clear day.
Running along the banks of the River Moy, it is hugely popular with joggers, cyclists, families and nature lovers alike. With over 10km of trial and paths, dotted with numerous ancient ruins, Belleek is simply spectacular.
A habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna in particular, including the rare red squirrel, pine martin and wild birds, this forest is a true gift for locals and visitors alike.