Walk . . . Mul­ranny Walk, Co Mayo

The Irish Times Magazine - - ON THE MOVE - JOHN G O’DWYER

How I de­test the an­nual cha­rade known as the bud­get. Re­cently, it has be­come a time when our lead­ers hand out sweets to al­most ev­ery­one, while claim­ing the whole vote- gath­er­ing ex­er­cise is ac­tu­ally in the in­ter­ests of fis­cal rec­ti­tude.

Of course, it’s all high theatre, with ev­ery­one act­ing out their as­signed role on the great stage of pub­lic opin­ion, but some­times it gets too much.

Hav­ing driven to Mayo in the after­math of the bud­get, all the while lis­ten­ing on the ra­dio to peo­ple whose favourite words were “en­ti­tled” and “missed op­por­tu­nity”, an im­me­di­ate es­cape from the whole overblown pas­tiche was ur­gent, but where to go on an ab­bre­vi­ated Oc­to­ber evening? Then I re­mem­bered a route I had no­ticed lead­ing off the Great West­ern Green­way, which ap­peared to prom­ise max­i­mum scenic re­ward for min­i­mum in­vest­ment of time and ef­fort.

Set­ting out from the Vic­to­rian el­e­gance of Mul­ranny Park Ho­tel, I de­scended steps di­rectly op­po­site and then con­tin­ued along a 19th- cen­tury cause­way and bridge lead­ing through an ex­ten­sive salt marsh. Gain­ing a storm beach, I am­bled right be­hind the strand and then up a rus­tic lane to reach a pub­lic road, where ar­rows in­di­cated up­hill. Go­ing off- piste soon after, I aban­doned the signs and as­cended to reach Log na Cur­rane’s sum­mit, which is crowned by a booster sta­tion.

This di­ver­sion proved worth­while, for laid out be­low was the ma­jes­tic iso­la­tion of Bel­lacragher Bay as it misted north to Black­sod Bay and the som­bre out­line of the iso­lated Nephin moun­tains.

Back on track, I fol­lowed the ar­rows left through scenic Cush­lecha Bog be­fore ex­it­ing on to a sur­faced road. Then it was across the main road and up­hill on a me­an­der­ing for­est track to join the Great West­ern Green­way which, even on an Oc­to­ber evening, was busy with walk­ers and cy­clists. I shouldn’t have been sur­prised, for the Green­way is un­doubt­edly one of the great in­no­va­tions of Ir­ish tourism. With about 250,000 user’s an­nu­ally, it is es­ti­mated to have cre­ated 200 jobs in the sur­round­ing ar­eas and has now spawned many im­i­ta­tors na­tion­wide.

At this point I could have gone right and re­turned to Mul­ranny House, but the gra­cious cut- stone viaduct cross­ing the N59 to Ban­gor drew me like a moth to light.

Here, it was steeply down­hill to the road, where soon after the route me­an­dered right and up­hill through some steep, un­for­giv­ing ter­rain, where I scrab­bled around to find the trail on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions. Even­tu­ally the trail de­canted me at the view­ing point of Cru­ach Gor­rach ( Look­out Hill)

Start to fin­ish From West­port,

take the N59 through New­port to Mul­ranny vil­lage, which is sign­posted Mal­laranny. Start your walk from Mul­ranny Park Ho­tel.

Suit­abil­ity Gen­er­ally un­chal­leng­ing

out­ing on rea­son­ably sound tracks. Walk­ing poles are use­ful, how­ever, on the rough as­cent from the N59 to Cru­ach Gor­rach.

Time Three Map:

hours. EastWest Map­ping; Wild Nephin where I was re­warded with a spec­tac­u­lar panorama over the drowned drum­lins of Clew Bay to Croagh Pa­trick’s hand­some head, which to­day was flirt­ing el­e­gantly with puffy white clouds.

Then, with a red- tinted hunter’s moon above in an azure sky and lights reignit­ing in the val­ley be­low, I de­scended the dark­en­ing moun­tain­side to re­join the Green­way for the short ram­ble to Mul­ranny House Ho­tel. Im­me­di­ately, po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity in­truded: as I drove away in gath­er­ing dark­ness, a po­lit­i­cal spokesman was on the ra­dio de­scrib­ing the bud­get as “a slap in the face for the home renters of Ire­land”.

N

■ The Green­way is un­doubt­edly one of the great in­no­va­tions of Ir­ish tourism

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