Covering over 1500 miles and seven counties, the Wild Atlantic Way is a dramatic and sublime example of Ireland’s natural beauty, and a huge part of west Ireland’s allure. Our luxurious five star Ashford Castle Hotel is located in the heart of Mayo, a fantastic stretch situated along the expansive coastal route. The prime location offers guests the perfect excuse to head for the hills in search of an exhilarating outdoor adventure.
Fascinating Folklore in Cong
If you’re looking for a true sense of the rich heritage and fascinating folklore linked to Cong, take an archaeological tour to the key historical relics that are scattered throughout the region’s scenic hills. Immerse yourself in the stunning ancient architecture of famous medievalRoyal Abbey, situated close to Ashford Castle, and amidst the ruins, revel in the Abbey’s striking gothic-style features and majestic air.
When you’re done on dry land, take a cruise along Lough Corrib. The scenic voyage across the 35-mile long lake by Ashford Castle is littered with tiny islands inhabited by an array of local wildlife, not to mention a long list of fresh water fish, earning it the reputation for being one of the best game fisheries in the world.
Go wild in Connemara
Further afield, discover the wild beauty of the Connemara region, where biking or hiking through the rugged landscape, past the crannogs and native ponies, is the best way to get around. Stop off at the award-winning, family run Heritage and History Centre for a welcomed tea or lunch break and a slice of local history.
If you prefer four legs as opposed to two wheels, Connemara is also ideal for exploring on horseback. Take an exhilarating ride across the picturesque bogs, hills and valleys, passing the beautiful Kylemore Abbey & Gardens and Connemara National Parkalong the way. Experienced riders should definitely opt for a thrilling hack along more adventurous and daring routes to take in the charming surrounds.
And a visit to Connemara wouldn’t be complete without going to the Killary Fjord, which provides dramatic views of the Maumturks and Twelve Bens mountain ranges, and a great starting point for avid climbers. Ideally discover the exquisiteness of the area by boat tour, many of which operate out of the local village. Seafood lovers should also make the most of the tasty fresh mussels available. Meet the local fishermen who frequent the An Carraig (The Rock Bar) – a traditional pub with wonderful views of the harbour – or try the Blackberry Restaurant, a popular local haunt serving top quality Irish fare.
Hit the surf
If you prefer to lap up the huge rolling surf of the Atlantic, take a trip to the coastal town of Clifden and try a spot of scuba diving, which can be arranged through Dolphin Beach House. Or for a serious adrenaline rush, head further north to Westport and go coasteering (a combination of rock-scrambling, cliff-jumping and adventure swimming) along the western seaboard with Adventure West. It’s a high-octane experience that’s not for the faint hearted.
Header image: Bag pipe player at Ashford Castle in County Mayo © Red Carnation