Author Topic: Achill Island june 2016  (Read 751 times)


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Achill Island june 2016
« on: 17:08:10, 19/11/16 »
Sub-titled: The best laid plans of mice and men.

No doubt we've all had days when everything went for a ball of chalk. My day started with a bang (literally) as I tripped over a step leaving the hostel in Pullathomas. Carrying the laptop case i was more concerned about saving that than myself so somehow my right knee took the impact with a concrete slab. Could still move it painfully, so into the car and on to Achill island. I stopped at the Ballycroy Naional Park centre for coffee (and ibuprofen) but couldn't walk up the stairs to the first floor cafe. Ended up taking the lift (Oh, the shame of it)

Onwards to Achill Sound where a bridge connects the island to the mainland, and I was able to buy a can of freeze spray to ease the pain. Now the plan had been to climb Slievemore one of the two main summits on the island, but the realisation came that my knee was not going up any hill that day. so I opted to take the Atlantic Drive around the south side of the island, stopping and hobbling out of the car to photograph the scenery.

Kildownet Castle - one time home of the Pirate Queen Grace o'Malley

Ashleam Bay

 Minaun Mountain from the Atlantic Drive The two summits of Croaghaun to the left

Approaching Dooega

After a late lunch in Dooega, the frustration of not being able to hillwalk set in and so I took the mountain road built to give access to the islands tv transmitter on the top of Minaun mountain. As soon as i reached the car park, the sky went black and i spent the next 50 minutes in what resembled a car wash. At least i turned the car around after a while so that both sides got equally washed. After the storm moved away I was able to take a couple of photos.[/size]

Croaghaun and Achill Head from Minaun Mountain

Slievemore from Minaun Mountain

After that I drove to Dugort to photograph Slievemore and then to the 'Deserted Village' under Slievemore where there are ruins of primitive one roomed houses - one door, one window and no chimney - which were abandoned at the time of the famine but subsequently used as summer dwellings by Dugort people to attend to their grazing animals.

Slievemore from Dugort

Part of the Deserted Village

Thus day 1 ended with a good steak, Guinness and more ibuprofen. Day 2 started well. The car park behind the b&b was now a boating lake and my boots were in the car. Shoes off and reverse out barefoot. I drove west through Dooagh (don't you love these place names?)
and took the cliff top road to Keem Bay. a glorious small bay towards the west end of the island. When I first went there in '69 (many years ago!) there were two dead basking sharks on the beach. Catching these creatures was a vital part of the local economy. The liver which accounts for 40% of the creatures weight was in demand for oil. Over fishing and then legislation put an end to this industry and today the Basking Sharks have returned to Keem Bay

Keem Bay 2014 on a better day!

And on a poor day in mid summer 2016

My objective was to climb Croaghaun the second main summit but by way of Benmore where there is a ruined watchtower and Achill Head itself. The clag hung low over the beach and hinterland and drizzle was the order of the day. The path to Benmore was a nightmare; long wet grass at a 45 degree angle; no traction (and a odgy knee) and I dreaded that i might have to return that way. I therefore decided to make a direct approach to Croaghaun west summit across featureless wet bog. Did I really want to do this? The north side of Croaghaun falls directly into the sea, reputedly the highest sea cliff in Europe. I hadn't walked it before, I'm using a 1:50k map not much better than the Esso road map, I will be in thick clag on wet grass on the cliff top and not be able to see or photograph what I wanted to see. Then the rain started to pelt in and I wimped out plodding back to the car.

After drying out I drove back along the cliff top road but turned off to a lough under Croaghaun. The sun had returned but clag was still hiding the top of the mountain.

OK, wonder if I can try Slievemore? Drove to the Deserted Village to try an ascent to the ridge from there. As soon as I was putting my kit on, we were back to car wash time, causing a coach load of American tourists to run for cover. Ascent abandoned.

Next day I left Achill island in pouring rain bound for Connemara  and no the weather was no better there. As I drove out, the geese who live on the grass verge west of Keel rushed out honking and flapping at the car to say 'au revoir'. I will be back; I have unfinished business with those hills.
« Last Edit: 18:00:24, 19/11/16 by Penygadair »


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Re: Achill Island june 2016
« Reply #1 on: 20:33:46, 20/11/16 »
Great photos Penygadair O0  My favourites were Achill Head from Minaun mountain and Slievemore. I've always wanted to visit Achill Island and these photos certainly whetted my appetite. Can I ask where would be a good place to stay to climb Slievemore?


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Re: Achill Island june 2016
« Reply #2 on: 11:34:20, 21/11/16 »
Cheers Henry. I stayed at Achill Isle House B&B just 600 yards west of Keel village. Cost me about 40 euros a night for a twin (single occupancy) with en-suite and a full Irish breakfast. Run by a lovely lady Sheila Mangan. It's on the internet. 10 minute drive to Dugort for Slievemore or same to Keem Bay for Croaghaun.

Catering wise there's a choice in Keel between the seafood restaurant (no prices displayed) The Bistro. pricey but excellent, a tiny burger bar or a van on the beach! The only shop sells sandwiches. The only pub, The Annexe is great.

There's something about Achill which has always drawn me back. It has a totally unique character. Enjoy!