Aasleagh Falls to Keel Beach, Achill Island
This Wild Atlantic Way route passes Croagh Patrick, which can be hiked and has wonderful views down to Clew Bay.
The journey passes through the lovely town of Westport, which is a good place to stay.
The roads vary from some well looked after two-lane roads along the Lough in Doolough Valley for example, to some quite narrow single-tracked roads on the approach to Achill.
There are plenty of sheep around, which seem to become more numerous once you get closer to Achill Island, so watch your speed and enjoy the views on the way.
There are some pretty beaches along the way and beautiful sea views. The final destination of Keel Beach is a great place to wild camp on the Wild Atlantic Way. There are also organised camp sites available there.
This is another of my favourite stretches of road along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Wild Atlantic Way Map Mayo
Approx. 173km distance, 3 hrs 45 minutes driving time
The Aasleagh Falls are located on the Erriff River and are one of the obstacles that Atlantic salmon face when swimming up the river to spawn.
Today however there is a fish pass, or fish ladder, located at the right hand side of the falls, looking upstream.
At the right time of year you can still see the salmon jumping or waiting in the water.
Despite their ability to find their way back to the same river in which they were born, they still apparently struggle to find the fish ladder.
During the 19th century (and still today) this place was a keen tourist fishing spot. There is a parking spot here and it is a short walk to the falls.
The wonderfully scenic road runs along the Doo Lough up to the Doo Lough Famine Memorial.
The Doolough Valley Famine Memorial
This beautiful valley has a gruesome past relating back to the famine year of 1849 when 600 starving people were sent on a 10-mile walk from Louisburgh to Delphi through this valley by the authorities, only to be sent back.
Many died on the walk of cold, hunger and exhaustion. Some were buried where they fell.
This beautiful beach is quite a way off the beaten track, down a long single-track road. But it is worth the trip to get there.
It is located close to the sea entrance to Killary Fjord and has a decent size car park. There are portocabin loos located in the car park.
It is quite a walk to get to the beach, across sand, and there are no lifeguards, so if you are swimming you do so at your own risk.
This beach is a small way off the WAW but has great views out to Inishturk and Clare Island.
The beach is wide and sandy although the start is quite stoney.
This beach is sometimes used to race horses, both thoroughbreds and ponies, as it has hard packed sand.
When I visited, there was a lot of fine sand that had been blown from the beach to the entrance to the car park, making it a little bit treacherous on a motorbike. So be warned if you are on a bike.
Inishturk is a small island located in County Mayo about 9 miles off the coast. You can get to Inishturk from Roonagh Pier by ferry.
This island is 3 miles off the Mayo coast and ferry trips depart from Roonagh Pier.
Roonagh Pier is where you can get the passenger ferry to Clare Island. You can park your car at Roonagh for free. There are plenty of spaces.
The ferry takes about 10-20 minutes. The ferry times depend on the time of the year.
Book your Clare Island tickets here.
Old Head Beach
During the season Old Head Beach is a lively family beach with water sports activities like kayaking etc.
There are great views out to Croagh Patrick.
Benches are available for your picnic and some lovely clear water. Quite a narrow road to get there, but a large car park and toilet facilities are available.
National Famine Memorial
The famine memorial is set off a short distance from the main road with a parking area on the opposite side of the road.
The memorial commemorates the Great Famine of 1845 to 1849 when 1 million people died from hunger and disease in Ireland.
The bronze artwork by John Behan is rather depressing, picturing gaunt skeletal figures on their way to the ‘coffin ships’ to leave Ireland for a ‘better’ life. The memorial was unveiled in 1997.
This amazing mountain (Cruach Phádraig in Irish) is a common hiking destination for walkers. It has an oratory at the summit which dates back to the 5th century. On the last Sunday in July (Reek Sunday) Pilgrims climb to the top, often barefoot, in honour of St. Patrick, who is said to have fasted at the top for 40 days.
The views from the summit are stunning overlooking the Adventure Islands in Clew Bay. There is a well worn path to the top. It is close to Westport, from where it can be clearly seen.
This renovated Quay is a good place to stop for a bite to eat. There are several shops and restaurants along refurbished quay buildings.
The quay is still there and in use. You can get boat trips out to Clew Bay with all its Islands.
I stopped at the Creel for an eggs Benedict that was pretty good. The Irish handmade lemony lemonade was also very tasty.
The Westport House estate is 400 acres of lush gardens and woodlands, based around a historic 400 year old house.
You can do a guided tour, get something to eat here or camp in the caravan, camping and glamping sites.
Mulranny (also spelled: Mullaranny, Mulrany, Malaranny, or Mullranny !!!) is a small seaside village located on the isthmus between Blacksod Bay and Clew Bay in Mayo. On the way to Achill Island. Nice views into the bay.
Just outside Mulranny this Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point has super views across the bay. The road winds its way along the coast to the Spanish Armada Viewpoint. This is a stunning drive with great sea views.
Spanish Armada View
This is a gravel lay-by with lovely views from here out to the Mayo mainland and Clare Island.
I got into a very interesting discussion with a friendly Irish guy who told me all about the pub on Clare Island and how cool it was to visit there. It was so interesting I forgot to photograph the Discovery Point sign. A super fun road with stunning views.
The viewpoint is another along this coast remembering 5 ships of the Armada that sank off the Mayo coast in 1588.
Cloughmore Small Pier (An Chéibh Bheag)
This small pier (An Chéibh Bheag) does not appear to be an official Discovery Point but does have a WAW sign there with some interesting information boards about Kildownat Castle (next to the pier) and Grainne Mhaol (Grace O’Malley) (1530-1603).
There is an intermittent ferry service to Clare Island from here.
Some wonderful views of the cliffs here on this wonderful gravel path along the coastline. Watch out for loose sheep. You are on Achill Island now where they roam freely it seems.
This is the location of the pub J.J. Devine, that was purpose-built for the film the Banshees of Inisherin.
Ashleam Bay View
Another lay-by on this fabulous road. Here I met some other bikers and again was so into the discussion and a bit late catching up with my pals that I almost forgot to photograph the stunning view. These pics were taken looking back while on the bike.
This is one of the fabulous beaches on Achill Island. There is a campsite here at Keel Beach but we were able, like many others to wild camp here, only 50m from the beach.
A perfect spot with public loos nearby as well as a pub, some restaurants and a village store.
I have been here several times. The beach is stunning and it is well worth a visit.
At this location, you are only a short drive from Keem Beach, one of the most stunning beaches on the Planet. But you will need to get there early to avoid the queues.
Accommodation in Keel, Achill
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Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Gav