The Mayo coast is one of those places special spots. The north and far north western corners of the coast are a bit off the beaten track. Back in November we had the opportunity to do part of the Carrowtige Loop walk. The full walk is over 10km long but it is possible to do shorter loops (of about 3km), which we did. The walk offers spectacular views of Broadhaven bay, the Atlantic ocean and majestic sea cliffs.
Atlantic ocean with Kid island in the background
We were lucky to have got one of those bright winter days but the wind coming from the ocean was bracing to say the least. In the distance of the photo below you can see the Stags of Broadhaven, some rocky outcrops that jut into the Atlantic.
Coastal cliffs and sea stacks
The surrounding landscape is bogland, a rare and important habitat and an important carbon sink in a time of climate change.
Carrowtige is Ceathrú Thaidhg in Irish. Ceathrú means quarter or quarterland and Thadhg is the name of a person.
Kid island is grazed by sheep – how the farmers get them onto this rocky island is a bit of a mystery to me!
Erris Head is on the Mullet peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. Last week we completed the Erris Head Loop Walk, a five kilometre walk right to the most northerly point of the head. The walk is relatively easy and you get spectacular views of the Atlantic and in the distance the Stages of Broad Haven. The Stags are a group of five islets of steep rocky cliffs rising about 100m out of the sea. They are about 2km north of the cliffs of Benwee Head.
Looking North – you can just see the “stags” on the horizon
Look east toward Benwee head
looking west across the atlantic
Erris Head from the car park
Erris Head is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and supports a range of wildlife, in particular sea birds. We saw nesting fulmars and also a pair of great skuas on Illandavuck Island, which lies just off the point. Gannets and guillemots could be seen fishing in the waters below. There was also a lovey range of flowers. The area is grazed by sheep (perhaps a bit too intensively) and so the best flowers were clinging to the cliff edges (bladder campion, Sheep’s bit scabious, wild thyme and more). Orchids were also common as was louseworth, bog asphodel, bog cotton and heather.
While we didn’t see any Irish hares we did see some hare droppings so they were definitely about.
On the day we went the sea was flat calm but I can imagine that the place would be even more spectacular of a windy day with waves crashing against the cliffs below.