Lough Inagh & The Walk to Maum Ean Oratory
Lough Inagh, nestled between the Maumturk and the Twelve Bens mountains in the heart of Connemara, is in a spectacularly beautiful valley, where mountain slopes rise precipitously from the valley floor and small streams cascade into the lake in a series of sparkling waterfalls. The R344 cuts through the valley, linking Recess to the south and Kylemore Lake to the north.
The Western Way, a walking route that traverses the high country of Galway and Mayo, follows a quiet country road above the R344 through the Lough Inagh Valley. To reach the beginning of the walk, drive north on the R344, turning right on a side road -- the sign for Maum Ean -- about 200m (656 ft.) before the Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel. Continue on this side road for about 6km (3 3/4 miles) to a large gravel parking lot on the left. Park here, and follow the well-worn trail 2km (1.25 miles) to the top of the pass, through glorious mountain scenery.
This short (4km/2.5-mile) walk follows the Western Way to the top of a mountain pass that has long been associated with St. Patrick and is now the site of a small oratory, a hollow in the rock known as Patrick's Bed, a life-size statue of the saint, and a series of cairns marking the Stations of the Cross. Together, these monuments make a striking ensemble, strangely eerie when the mists descend and conceal the far slopes in their shifting haze. On a clear day, there are great views, with the Atlantic Ocean and Bertraghboy Bay to the southwest and another range of mountains to the northeast. The round-trip walking time is about 1 hour.
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