Patrick's Causeway Bike Tour from Westport
Patrick’s Causeway is an ancient pilgrimage road. It is known as the 'Tochar Phadraig' in Gaelic, and the walking trail consists of 113 stiles as part of a 18-mi (30-km) route. The bicycle route follows quiet roads to the southern side of Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, on which Saint Patrick is said to have spent forty days and nights during his time in Ireland.
As part of the tour, you will visit several unusual sites, including the Neolithic Rock of Boheh,'Soap the Rope' bridge and the magical Brackloon Wood. The return journey to Westport is completed along the Wild Atlantic Way. This is a unique way to see one of the world’s most beautiful areas using quiet trails that will reveal Irish heritage, geography, and the deep history that sweeps across Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay. This is a small-group guided bicycle tour that takes a few hours to complete with stops.
Tóchar Phádraig or Patrick’s Causeway, is an ancient pilgrimage road that today begins at the 13th century Ballintubber Abbey and finishes some 18 miles (30 kilometers) away, on Croagh Patrick. The walking route can take up to three days, but for those who wish to experience the magic of this historic route, a guided bicycle tour that typically takes a few hours to complete with stops, is recommended.
The tour starts in the town of Westport and briefly follows the Greenway to a quiet back road that picks up the Tóchar a few miles outside the town. Pass Poll na gCon, where Saint Patrick is said to have 'tamed' two wolfhounds belonging to a hostile pagan chieftain. Near here, the original flagstones of the Tóchar are discernible as a green stretch. Your first stop is the village of Aughagower, where the ruins of one of the first churches are visible, along with a holy well said to have curative powers. The tradition is that Patrick walked from here to the Reek on Shrove Tuesday to begin his 40-day fast on the mountain. Aughagower is also renowned for its round tower, built between the years of 973 and 1013 A.D.
The tour then follows the winding road towards Lankill, passing the infamous ‘Soap the Rope’ landmark on the way through this much storied area. At Stone Park, an area of vital importance to the Druids and pre-Christian peoples, the remains of a cist burial chamber, bronze age pillar and - from much later years - a mass altar are found. Hangman's Bridge is crossed, a place where those who rebelled against the British in 1798 were executed. Just beyond is the extraordinary Rock of Boheh and its markings from Neolithic times. The magical and primitive native oak Brackloon Wood is next on the route, with its tales of caves, treasure and hidden monuments.
Now the Owenwee River comes into sight, and the great plain that leads to the foot of the Reek. We follow roads filled with extraordinary history and beautiful scenery to the southern base of Croagh Patrick and meeting point of the Western Way - a 100-mile walking trail that crosses the wilderness between Galway and Mayo. Once here, there will be a rest rest period before making the trip back across the eastern edge of the Reek to find the Wild Atlantic Way along the southern edge of Clew Bay and return to Westport.
Total Distance: Up to 24 miles (40 kilometers)
Terrain: Undulating, with a couple of steeper climbs
Typical Time: approximately 4 hours with stops