Paved side road, track, path / 6.5 km / 1 to 1.5 hour
Begin the Cashel Walk opposite the Zetland Hotel, passing the community centre and hand-ball alley on your left. The rhododendrons dotted here among the hawthorns, willows and holly are evidence of a nearby ‘big house’. Rhododendrons were widely planted in the gardens of such houses in the last century and now they are self-seeding into the surrounding countryside and becoming a problematic weed. Both of the nearby hotels had their origin as big houses in the last century.
Note the first turn on the left at about 500m – this is where our walk will turn upon returning from the shore. Beyond these hedgerows the road comes onto open grazed rocky heath land typical of many parts of Connemara. Dwarf gorse, which flowers in August, is common on the drier rocky areas. The larger European Gorse, part of the hedgerows and strewn haphazardly about the place, flowers yellow from May onwards.
As on other walks, we see here traces of people long gone; the intricate pattern of small field walls and the abandoned ruins tell of a once higher population. As we crest a rise in the road, we see directly down Bertraghboy Bay ahead. The road is now a track, which continues 500m past the farm gate at the end, keeping right on to the shore. From here there are fine views over Leitreach Áird on the far side of the bay.
After absorbing sufficient sea views and air, retrace your steps to the turn mentioned above. Our route turns right here, along the old bog track amid the bogs and boulders and solitude, across to link up with the Carna-Cashel road. Turn left here through this vast spectacular expanse of blanket bog and granite outcrops. After half a mile we turn left once again towards Cashel and our starting point.
Alternative starting points along Cashel Bay will lengthen this walk. If you start from the Post Office the journey will be 11 kilometres and will take a little over 2 hours to complete.
Source: ‘Walking in Connemara: Shorter Walks to Explore the Hidden Connemara’, Connemara Tourism 1996. Available at The Clifden Bookshop.