The great western greenway was… “okay” as a one word definition of today’s experience.
If I’m not mistaken the great western greenway was one of Ireland’s first purpose-built greenways to be completed and certainly feels like the oldest most publicised greenway from a tourism point of view. If this is true that might explain its condition compared to later greenways who may have taken inspiration and most importantly refinements from the concept.
Although the second half proved more enjoyable, the initial journey from Westport to Newport was underwhelming.
Upon arrival in Westport, I wasted no time jumping on my bike and searching for an access point. Searching took a good 10-15 minutes and some friendly guidance from local gas station personnel. I eventually found what appeared to be the start of the route (but I’m pretty sure it starts close to the port itself. But I’ll find that out tomorrow when I return)
The initial 5 minutes was as I’d expect, a purpose-built track surrounded by woodlands and I couldn’t believe how quickly I left the urban setting.
However, the first 10 km was confusing with a lot of travel along the main road.
The greenway was supposed to be on the old railway line built in the 1890s (which closed in 1937) however quite a lot appears to be purpose-built in line with the N59 road (connecting Galway to Sligo) to the point where I was concerned I ventured off the greenway itself and ended up on a cycle lane of the main road. This experience continued intermittently until Newport and in Newport itself was very confusing as I merge onto Main Street through the village.
I am guided with signposts but I needed to keep my eyes peeled for them along with making judgment calls and intuition in terms of overall direction. Finally, I found several diversion roadworks interfering with the route, particularly in Mullranny...
However, reaching the 25km mark things return to a typical greenway to my relief. The only frustration has been the stereotypical west coast weather which passed as quickly as it came
I must say I was a little challenged with the journey despite having achieved 60-90km past. This 42km against the Atlantic breeze certainly pushes me hard…
Finally making it to Achill I was glad to take a much-needed rest and check Into my accommodation for the night… which is lovely… time for dinner, a shower and (if it holds up weather-wise) a stroll along the island