A Guide To Each Stage Of The Great Western Greenway Cycle (AKA The Mayo Greenway)

Great Western Greenway
Photos by Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

The Great Western Greenway (aka the Mayo Greenway and the Westport Greenway) is one of the best things to do in Mayo if you like to get active.

The Mayo Greenway (Westport to Achill) is officially Ireland’s longest greenway, stretching for an impressive 40km along Ireland’s stunning west coast. 

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about tackling the Great Western Greenway, from each stage of the cycle to what to see on the way.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Great Western Greenway

mayo greenway
Photo via Susanne Pommer on shutterstock

As is the case with the Blessington Greenway and the brilliant Waterford Greenway, the Mayo Greenway is nicely laid-out and reasonably straightforward.

However, there are a handful of need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Where it starts and ends

The Mayo greenway begins in Westport Town (hence why some call it the Westport Greenway) and ends on Achill Island. It uses the old rail route crossing the stunning countryside of the west coast.

2. How long it takes to cycle

The full length of the Westport greenway is 43.5km long. Depending on your speed, it takes around 5 hours to cycle one way.

3. Bike hire

If you need to hire a bike you don’t have to worry, there’s plenty of bike hire spots. Clew Bay Bike Hire has bases in each town along the route so you can hire in one place and drop it off at another town. There’s also Westport Bike Hire or Paddy and Nelly to check out as well. 

Cycling the Great Western Greenway: An overview of each stage

westport greenway
Photo by Susanne Pommer/shutterstock.com

While the Great Western Greenway is usually described as running from Westport to Achill, you can really start and finish at either end of the trail depending on where you’re based or arriving from.

There are obviously no hard and fast rules about completing the Mayo Greenway, so you can do it in stages as well with a few entry points along the way. 

Stage 1: Westport to Newport

achill greenway
Photo by Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

The Great Western Greenway begins in Westport just off the N59 around 500m from the town centre. There are directional signposts showing the way onto the greenway.

From Westport to Newport, it follows mostly an off-road trail taking in some incredible Atlantic coast scenery.

The official access point and end of this section in Newport is to the left of the N59 around 2km from the town centre.

  • Distance: 12.5km
  • Cycle time (estimate): 1-1.5 hours
  • Walking time (estimate): 3-3.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Arrows to follow: White arrows with the National Cycle Network symbol.

Stage 2: Newport to Mulranny

cycling the Great Western Greenway
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Starting at the end of stage one just off the N59 outside of Newport, this section continues onto Mulranny.

The trail offers impressive views over Clew Bay and the rugged Nephin Beg mountain range in the distance.

One of the highlights of this 18km section is the Mulranny causeway which crosses Trawoughter Bay and links the village to Mulranny’s blue flag beach (arguably one of the best beaches in mayo).

  • Distance: 18km
  • Cycle time (estimate): 2-2.5 hours
  • Walking time (estimate): 5-5.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Arrows to follow: White arrows with the National Cycle Network symbol.

Stage 3: Mulranny to Achill

 

There are two access points in Mulranny, either just off the N59 travelling to Bangor or to the rear of the Mulranny Park Hotel (one of the best hotels in Mayo).

As you head towards Achill Island, you can enjoy some truly spectacular views of the dramatic coastline with soaring cliffs and island views.

The greenway concludes in Achill Sound, the first village you come to on the island and is a great spot for a rewarding coffee or pint. 

  • Distance: 13km
  • Cycle time (estimate): 1-1.5 hours
  • Walking time (estimate): 4-4.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Arrows to follow: White arrows with the National Cycle Network symbol.

Where to stay when cycling the Westport Greenway

If you’re up for a full weekend tackling the Great Western Greenway, you might want to consider one of these towns to stay in on the way. 

Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.

1. Westport

where to stay on the mayo greenway
Photos via Booking.com

Westport is a lively town with loads of restaurantsplenty of pubs and places to stay. It’s known for its historic town centre and old architecture with stone bridges crossing the Carrowbeg River.

It’s a charming place and definitely one of the most popular towns to stay on the west coast. There’s also plenty of things to do in Westport when you’re done cycling the greenway, from visiting Westport House to climbing Croagh Patrick

Hotels

A few of our favourite hotels in Westport include, Clew Bay Hotel, the Wyatt Hotel and Westport Coast Hotel. See our guide to the best Westport hotels for more.

B&Bs

If you prefer a bed and breakfast, try The Waterside B&B, Mulberry Lodge B&B or Woodside Lodge B&B. See our guide to the best B&Bs in Westport for more.

2. Newport

newport to westport
Photos via Booking.com

Right on the shores of Clew Bay, Newport is a small, picturesque town. It has the Black Oak River flowing through the centre and is a much quieter and more relaxed alternative to Westport. 

It’s a great choice for a coastal retreat, being in a nice spot along the greenway route. It’s much more limited though when it comes to accommodation choices with mostly B&Bs available. 

B&Bs

Newport has a few great B&Bs including Brannens of Newport, Riverside House and Church View.

3. Mulranny

Mulranny Park Hotel mayo
Photo via Mulranny Park Hotel

In a unique location between Clew Bay and Blacksod Bay, Mulranny is a small but lively town in Mayo. The seashore around Mulranny is particularly known for its beautiful flora and fauna and Blue Flag beach. 

It’s perfectly located just 14km from Achill, making it a great base for exploring the surrounding area and cycling along the greenway. 

Hotels

Mulranny has one main hotel, the Great National Mulranny Park Hotel set on a scenic estate just outside of town.

B&Bs

There are some great B&Bs in town including, Mulranny House, Nevins Newfield Inn and McLouhlins of Mulranny.

4. Achill

westport to achill greenway
Photos via Booking.com

Achill Island is an incredibly beautiful island that is connected to the mainland by a motorable bridge.

It’s characterised by rugged mountains, tall sea cliffs and pristine beaches. It’s a popular place to explore and is perfectly situated at the end or start of the Great Western Greenway. 

You can easily spend a night or more on the island before or after your long cycle, as there are plenty of great things to do in Achill, from beaches and walks to hikes and more.

Hotels

Some of our favourite hotels on the island include, Ostan Oilean Acla and Achill Cliff House Hotel and Restaurant. See our guide to the best hotels in Achill for more.

B&Bs

A few of the best B&Bs on Achill include Ferndale Luxury Boutique B&B, Hy Breasal B&B and Stella Maris Luxury B&B.

FAQs about the Mayo Greenway

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long does it take to do the Westport Greenway to where to stay on the way.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long does it take to cycle the Great Western Greenway?

The Great Western Greenway is 42km in length and takes 5+ hours to cycle.

How long does it take to cycle from Newport to Achill?

It’ll take you roughly 3.5 hours to cycle from Achill to Newport on the Mayo Greenway.

Where does the Mayo Greenway start?

You can start the Mayo Greenway in either Westport or Achill, depending on which side is more convenient for you.

How long is the Westport to Achill Greenway?

The Great Western Greenway cycle is 42km in length.

Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.

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