Dry footpath, track and paved road; 5 km; approx. 1 hour
The fishing village of Cleggan is located on the northern side of the Aughrus Peninsula, at the head of Cleggan Bay. The pier, which was built by Alexander Nimmo in 1822, was extended in 1908 at the height of the lucrative mackerel and herring fisheries. It is the site of much fishing and boating activity and is also the ferry port for Inishbofin Island. A lively music scene can be experienced in Cleggan’s four bars, as well as the very freshest fish and seafood. Pony trekking at Cleggan Beach Riding Centre is a popular activity in the area.
For this Cleggan Walk, Turn right towards the harbour. Our way turns left beyond the Pier Bar and the track rises up on a ridge of sand and gravel deposited here as the glaciers of the last ice age melted 10,000 years ago. These gravels are free draining and more fertile than the surrounding lands and they support better quality farmland. On your right is Cleggan Bay with Cleggan Head on the opposite north shore.
Cleggan – in Irish Cloigeann, meaning ‘a skull’ – takes its name from the domed shape of Cleggan Head. At its summit you can make out the ruined remains of a watchtower, part of a signalling system built along the west coast in the first decade of the 19th century to warn of approaches by the French fleet. As you crest the rise the spectacular seascape with Inishshark, Inishbofin and many smaller islands, becomes visible. The route passes some modern houses and then bears right on the unpaved track at the T-junction.
This brings you to Salerna Beach. Exploring along the shore, you will discover a Cillín, a children’s burial ground where unbaptised infants were buried in times past, at the west end and the wedge tomb, a Neolithic burial place, circa 4,000 BC, at the east end.
Retrace your way back along the track passing your original path on the left. Bear left on the paved road, back towards Cleggan Village. 200 metres on the right, the large black and white buildings were once an old coast guard station. As you approach the village, the bay appears again on your left and, away in the distance, the Twelve Bens, Diamond Hill and the line of Kylemore Valley. Take time to sample the relaxing atmosphere of Cleggan and to stop-off at the unmissable Oliver’s Seafood Bar and Restaurant.
Source: ‘Walking in Connemara: Shorter Walks to Explore the Hidden Connemara’, Connemara Tourism 1996.
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