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GREAT WESTERN GREENWAY

The world-class Great Western Greenway is a 42km traffic-free cycling and walking facility which primarily follows the line of the famous Westport to Achill Island Railway, which opened in 1937.

Its development has been made possible by agreement of local landowners who have allowed permissive access to users to pass through their lands.

The Westport - Achill railway was one of the so-called 'Balfour Lines' called after Arthur J Balfour.

From historic towns to island adventures and nature havens to breathtaking bays, County Mayo’s Great Western Greenway is a pathway packed with some of Ireland’s best cycling scenery.

DAY ONE

A town teeming with heritage, breathtaking bay views and island adventures fit for a (pirate) queen: experience it all in the scenic 250-year-old town of Westport.

Cycle straight to Westport House in the heart of town and swap your bikes for train carriages with Westport Train Tour. Enjoy a guided jaunt through the gorgeous grounds of Westport House, Westport Quay and the stories and sites of Westport town. Upon your return, set off on a guided tour of the opulent estate for a peek at marble marvels, engrossing exhibitions and the history of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connacht, who once ruled land and sea throughout the area and beyond.

Board a bus in Westport to Roonagh Pier by Clare Island Ferry during the summer months and be whisked away on the water to Grace O’Malley’s ancient homeland, Clare Island. Wander the island on foot exploring the Pirate Queen’s stone clad fortress, Granuaile Castle; peruse medieval masterpieces in The Abbey church; and explore Ireland’s only two-towered lighthouse, guarding the entrance to Clew Bay. Return to the harbour and enjoy your last look at the island as you journey back to Roonagh Pier by ferry, where a bus awaits to return to Westport.

DAY TWO

From regal roots to country house charm, the picturesque town of Newport is a treasure trove of historic sites.

After a leisurely cycle from Westport to the heritage town of Newport, take the time to admire the seven-arch railway viaduct, spanning the Black Oak river. Refuel in the Georgian gem of Newport House, for home-smoked salmon and seasonal local foods.

Newport has a rather impressive claim to fame, Princess Grace of Monaco’s ancestral homestead can be found on the edge of the town in Drimurla. Today, a park in her name lies behind these humble cottage ruins where her paternal grandfather, John Kelly, once lived.

Throughout July and August, hop aboard the free bus service from Newport to Ballycroy National Park for nature trails, habitat exhibitions and diverse flora and fauna on this blanket bog landscape, laced between the towering beauty of the Nephin Beg mountains.

source: ireland.com