Hiking The Western Way — Sli an Iarthair

One of my Dad’s favourite things to do is to go for a hike. If you like hiking, you would like my Dad. (Well, I think my Dad is the greatest, so you’d probably like him even if you don’t like hiking!) And you would love his family trips. Each trip involves at least one big hike, and our past few family trips have been planned around a week of hiking. I’m pretty sure that everywhere my Dad has travelled to, he’s hiked there.

The guy who has dragged me out on more hikes than I would have ever thought possible…thanks, Dad!

I am a reluctant hiker. Always have been, and probably always will be. I don’t really have a good reason for this; I enjoy being outside and athletic activities…but ever since I was little we’d set off on family hikes and I’d be cheery for about an hour before I would start asking if we were almost done.  Now that I’m more mature (but just a little bit), I usually let my Dad hike in peace while I walk in a little dreamland and hum tunes to myself and pray that I don’t have to scramble on my hands and knees up a gully (it’s happened before!).

I will admit that it is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty and local culture of a place, but after 10 kilometers it all kind of starts to blur together. There have been some moments that I’m not very proud of while I’ve been hiking, maybe it doesn’t bring out the best in me — a picture may or may not exist in which I’m flipping off the photographer (my poor Dad); that picture will not be posted!

It almost looks like I’m enjoying myself!

Anyways. A hike once in a while is fine, but when I know five days in a row of the activity are planned I get a little apprehensive. That being said, there were moments on the trails of the Western Way where I felt myself enjoying almost every step….who knows, maybe there is still hope for me as a hiker. I think my Dad hopes that the man I marry will be a hiking addict…

The Western Way, Sli an larthair in Gaelic, is a 179 km trail that runs through County Galway and Mayo in the west of Ireland. We organized our trip with Hill Walk Ireland, which was lovely. Our walks took us from Oughterard, to Maam Cross and Maam Valley, from there to Leenane, then the small town of Drummin and finishing in Ireland’s “tidy town” of Westport. We’d stay at a different B&B each night, and our luggage would be taken to the next one while we were hiking (what service!).  The trails are well marked and with the maps that HillWalk gave us it would have been difficult to get lost.

Taking a quick break off the trail.

It seems redundant to tell you how stunning the Connemara landscapes are. But it is beautiful; stunning and rugged. In a way it reminded me a lot of parts of Canada (Newfoundland!).

The boys hiking the Western Way.

We made friends with sheep! Or we tried to, anyway. I don’t think they were that impressed with us, except for the baby lamb who stole my mum’s heart.

I loved the B&Bs.  Like each town we passed through, our hosts were lovely and each house had it’s own distinctly Irish charm.

Breakfast time at the Old Convent B&B in Leenane.
Wool wool everywhere! At the Sheep&Wool Museum in Leenane.
Soaking tired toes in a steamy seaweed bath…refreshing!

We finished everyday with a delicious meal and a pint;  felt like I had earned that beer…

Post-hike refreshments
Hearty Irish Stew for dinner

They say that the Guinness tastes better in Ireland. Maybe it was because we had walked all day through all kinds of Irish weather, but I can’t imagine it tasting better anywhere else!

The sun sets on Ireland’s only fjord at Killary Bay.
Despite my protestations I’m sure this won’t be my last time on a hiking trail….just keep trekking!


  1. I also love hiking a lot like your father. Hiking involves lot of fun and adventure, that is why I like hiking a lot. Hiking trip are a great way to escape from regular humdrum of life and a great way to exercise and keep your body fit.

Have something to say? Please do :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s