3 Beautiful Hiking and Hill Walking Trails
in Connemara, Ireland

by Brittany Vargas

 

Connemara is a land of rugged beauty. The wind-whipped hills dotted with grazing sheep, craggy cliffs shrouded in mist, and rugged empty shorelines capture visitors every single time. It offers some of the best hiking and hill walking in the world — let alone in Ireland — and Delphi Lodge situates you perfectly to take advantage of it. 

 
Mweelrea

Narrowing down the best hikes in the area is practically impossible. With the mountains, heaths, and bogs of Connemara National Park and the pilgrimage site of Croag Patrick close by, you certainly will be spoiled for choice.

We’ve narrowed down our favorites to three hikes in the immediate vicinity of the lodge — some of which will drop you right at our doorstep in the gorgeous Delphi Valley.

 

Mweelrea

To the West of the lodge, you’ll find Mweelrea, Connaught’s highest peak, the Mweelrea (meaning “Bald King” in Irish).

Taking around a day to complete, this is a must for experienced hikers and hill walkers. Upon reaching Mweelrea’s summit of 814 meters, you’ll have jaw-dropping views all around, from the islands of the West Coast to the beaches of Galway, Killary fjord, and southern mountain ranges.

Difficulty level and prep

As with any hiking in the area, you’ll want to be prepared for unpredictable weather. Even more so with Mweelrea — its close proximity to the Atlantic means it practically has its own microclimate. Pea soup-like fog, high-velocity winds, and storms can appear without warning.

Don’t plan to rely on your phone — you won’t have coverage on this trail’s windswept ridges. That makes it critical to bring a waterproof map and compass you’re experienced using. You’ll also need good, waterproof hiking boots, as the trail can be quite slippery and wet.

To be extra careful, consider hiring a guide or going with experienced trekkers.

Summiting Mweelrea

You can choose from three routes to summit Mweelrea: One from Delphi valley, another ascending the ‘ramp’ from the glacial valley Doolough, and a third route (the shortest and least challenging) from Silver Strand beach on the western coast. 

To summit from Delphi Valley, you’ll start and end at the Delphi Adventure Center. This route will take you along Owenaglough River, through grassy bogs, and up steep, exposed rocky terrain. Beware if you’re afraid of heights — you’ll hike along a cliff’s edge as you ascend.

After summiting Mweelrea, you’ll make your way to the summit of Ben Bury, at 795 meters, and along the awe-inspiring ridge of Ben Lugmore. You’ll finish alongside the Owenaglough River, heading downstream until you reach Delphi Lodge once more your starting point.

 

Ben Gorm 

Northeast from Delphi Valley, Ben Gorm (“Blue Peak” in Irish) is another spectacular albeit challenging day hike. A 10 km hike from Asleagh Falls takes you to Ben Gorm peak, at 700 meters. The hike features a path along a ridge line with exquisite views of the Eriff Valley, Lugaharry Lake, and the Killary Fjord, and ends by depositing you into the Delphi Valley.

Ben Gorm

Difficulty level and prep

Like Mweelra, this hike is best for moderate to experienced hikers. You’ll absolutely need good hiking gear, and if you don’t have the experience to make the journey alone, don’t hesitate to hire a guide. Make good use of your map and compass, especially if the weather starts to turn.

This hike is likely to be wet and boggy, so wear long pants in addition to your boots.

Summiting Ben Gorm from Asleagh Falls 

Ben Gorm’s otherworldly beauty is a prime example of the area’s wild terrain. You’ll start off with a fairly steep ascent up boggy wetland, making this part of the journey a challenge. However, once you approach the summit, the land beneath you turns to soft green grass. From the peak, you’ll see steep craggy cliffs on the north side and concave slopes on the south as they join forces with Killary Fjord.

From your perch, gaze down at the Delphi and Doolough valleys, strewn with streams that meander across the valley floor. Your descent brings you to Fin Lough (Bright Lake) in the Delphi Valley, right across from Delphi Lodge.

 

Killary Fjord

Not everyone comes to Connemara for challenging treks, and luckily, the area is just as welcome to folks seeking more leisurely adventures. Only 2 km from Delphi Lodge, the glacial Killary Fjord is surrounded by mountains that rise dramatically from the water’s edge. At 16 km long, it rolls from the ocean right to the charming village of Leenane.

This half-day hike is more of a walk that affords you stunning scenery — the fjord itself along with all that daily life entails in this farming and fishing area. In fact, the area is so beautiful it was listed in the book Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die.

Killary Fjord

Difficulty level and prep

At around 3 – 4 hours long, you’ll be fine on this walk if you’re moderately fit. It consists of paved, dirt, and grassy roads and is largely flat.

Do dress warmly and bring good walking or hiking shoes, rain gear, water and snacks, and a map.

Walking the Fjord

You’ll start off at Tullyconor Br, off the N59 road, and end by Lough Muc, with views of the ocean. The hike begins on paved or dirt roads winding through farmland. You’ll pass cottages with sheep grazing in the grass alongside playful lambs. As the path gives way to greenery, you’ll be treated to more farm animals — chickens strutting freely, rams and goats galore, plus sheepherding dogs hard at work. Keep an eye out for dolphins. Between all the animal life and the colorful fishing boats floating by, you may find you lose all sense of time as you surrender to the moment.

In this place where land meets legend, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience. Whether you opt for a leisurely walk along the fjord, an adventurous day summiting one of the nearby peaks, or any other adventure, Delphi Lodge will be here to make your stay exquisitely beautiful and supremely comfortable.

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