Last weekend, after what seemed like years of talking about it, we packed a bag and headed off to Westport to cycle the Great Western Greenway! Now I can cycle a bike but definitely wouldn’t call myself a cyclist…..I don’t own a bike or any lycra type outfits and the last time I hopped on a bike was in Bruges… 2 years ago…for about an hour! But all that aside, cycling the Greenway was a fantastic experience and one which I would definitely do again!
For this blog post I decided to do a Q and A of all the questions I had before the cycle and some of the questions I got asked about it afterwards!
What is the Great Western Greenway?
The 42km Great Western Greenway is the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland. It’s a traffic free cycling and walking trail which follows the route of the Westport to Achill railway which closed in 1937.
The Greenway is divided into 3 sections:
Achill to Mulranny 13km
Mulranny to Newport 18km
Newport to Westport 11km
How do I plan a trip on the Greenway?
For our trip we began by contacting Clew Bay Bike Hire. We asked about the various packages they have on offer and decided to go with the Silver package which included our bike hire, the choice of one Outbound or Return shuttle transfer at their locations along the Great Western Greenway. (ie. take an outbound shuttle bus from Westport to Achill for a return cycle, or just cycle from Newport to Mulranny and be collected and brought back on our bus.) The silver package is €25.
This Option also includes free roadside assistance along the trail. It’s always best to book in advance as it can get very busy.
Where should I start my cycle?
We chose to start our cycle in Achill. On Saturday morning we arrived in Westport at the bike hire shop at 9:15am. We filled out the forms, got our helmets, hi-vis vests and some info about the cycle. At 9:30 we hopped on the mini-bus (with our bikes) and were driven to Achill (about an hour away). In Achill we hopped out, grabbed the bikes and began our cycle.
Do I need to cycle it all in one go?
No! The best thing about Clew Bay bike hire is that they have locations at Westport, Mulranny, Newport and Achill so if you decide, at any of the locations, that your legs need a rest, or that you want to continue the cycle another day, you can give them a call and arrange to drop the bike at one of their shops and catch their minibus (if available) or grab a taxi back to Westport! No need to worry! Theres also an option to just cycle from Newport to Mulranny. The gold package includes both an outbound and return shuttle service.
We decided we would cycle to Newport and then decide if we would continue to Westport! As it happened, it was a lovely day, so we continued to Westport and finished the Greenway!
To be honest, the best views are on the sections from Achill to Mulranny and then from Mulranny to Newport.
Is there anywhere to stop along the way?
Yes! There are lots of great places to stop along the way for a coffee, lunch or even a glass of Guinness (for strength….obviously!)
On the Achill to Mulranny Section we stopped at Dohertys for a quick coffee . There is also a supermarket next door to grab a snack.
The Mulranny Park hotel is also lovely for coffee or a bite to eat.
The Mulranny to Newport section is the longest stretch at 18km so about half way we veered off the Greenway for about 1km to Nevins bar (Its well signposted) for a quick refreshment! They also serve lunches and its a lovely cosy place to have a quick rest.
Once we got to Newport we had lunch in a bar called The Grainne Uaile. They had a lovely menu and we opted for the chowder…just what we needed after 31km!
Are there toilets along the sections?
Yes, there are ‘Greenway Toilets’ (Green portaloos) along the way!
Is it safe?
Yes, its very safe! The Great Western Greenway is very well signposted and is on an off-road traffic free trail. There are very small sections, mostly when entering or leaving the towns ,where we were cycling on a path along the main road before we rejoined the next section of the Greenway. Cyclists and walkers use the trail and we met others along the way.
What to bring/wear?
We did the cycle at the end of January and the weather can be unpredictable, especially in the west of Ireland so a raincoat is essential! Also runners, comfy track suit bottoms and a hat to wear inside the helmet!
I took a small backpack for water, wallet, phone and a few snacks! There are shops, bars and restaurants at all of the towns but there isn’t anywhere on the Greenway itself so water and a few snacks are essential!
Is it difficult?
There were some sore legs the next day!
I would say that it is a long cycle but the scenery is absolutely stunning along the way. We took our time, made 3 stops for food and drinks and a countless amount of photo stops and completed the Greenway in about 5 1/2 hours. It’s definitely worth a try, and even if you only do 1 or even 2 of the sections it’s definitely worth the trip!
We really enjoyed the day and will hopefully cycle the Great Western Greenway again in the Summer!
We opted to stay in Westport that night and we were delighted to be able to have a nice meal, a few drinks and relax after the day!
I would love to hear any comments or questions!
Let me know if you give it a go!
Until next time,