Croagh Patrick Pilgrims Hike from Westport Area
Starting about five miles west of Westport, our hike takes the traditional pilgrim route, with an option to descend via the extraordinary west side of Croagh Patrick.
Our first stop is at the statue of St. Patrick, normally a ten to fifteen minute walk on an easy gradient. Even at this early stage, you will be stunned by the views of Clew Bay and its islands, including the birdlike shape of Dorinish, which was once owned by John Lennon, and the distant guardian of the bay itself – Clare Island, once the home of the pirate Grace O’Malley. Looking north, the serene sweep and breadth of the Nephin mountain range – noted as one of the most remote areas in Ireland – draws your gaze towards the massive cliffs of Croaghaun on Achill Island – the third highest sea cliffs in Europe.We then make our way to the gateway that is the entrance to the Reek ‘wilderness’ beyond. As you ascend, the views become ever more spectacular, as the entire vista of the bay opens up to reveal a hundred more islands. You will learn about these islands and their colorful history, which ones are still inhabited, and which ones you can visit and explore at low tide.The best is yet to come as you approach the shoulder of Croagh Patrick. Here you will be afforded an unrivaled view of the southern wilderness – with the mountain ranges of Partry, Sheaffry and Mweelrea, and into Connemara with its stunning Twelve Bens and Maumturk mountains.
At this point, those who wish to reach the summit will stroll along the southern shoulder for several hundred yards before starting the final ascent. This follows a well-worn path now known as ‘Casan Padraig’ that has been etched out of the mountain since pre-Christian times. The summit itself is not visible until the final few steps, at which point you will first see the top of the little church that was built in 1905, then the entire dome of the peak itself. Here, we will pause for refreshment and discuss the archaeological findings on the mountain, including the mysterious ‘Bob of the Reek’ and his well hidden cave, before returning to Murrisk via the eastern shoulder route.