Road, track, cross country / 8.5 km / approx. 3 hours
Arriving at Inishbofin from the new pier, gain the vantage point of the High Road via Pound Road behind the small shop. Our route heads east, and beneath us we see the safe anchorage of the inner Pond at the head of the harbour. The ruin on the small island opposite the old pier is what remains of a fish-curing station dating from the turn of the century. Our route passes along the spine of the large glacial deposit that underlies the island’s meadows and pastureland.
Turn sharp left where the road begins its descent towards the east end village. On the right we overlook the fertile slopes of Cloonamore (Cluain Mór, the big meadow) and the beach at the east end of the island. Away in the distance the mainland mountains of Mayo and Connemara provide a backdrop to this dramatic seascape. The cone of Croagh Patrick rises to the north, behind the Mayo mountains.
The track now winds its way out onto the commonage, rough grazing and rocky outcrops. Our route soon requires us to pick a way across land to the eastern track, which is quite visible. Those that have time may wish to explore the cliffs around Dún na hIníne, where solitude allows time to slip away. The track brings us onto the beach and a paved road. A right turn at the end of the beach brings us onto the Low Road back towards the harbour.
Less than a mile on, a ruined 13th century church built by the O’Malleys is standing in the grounds of the original 7th century monastery founded by St Colman. In the island’s cemetery, ancient graves lie close to the modern [two cross slabs can be found here which are probably the earliest monuments to have survived on the site]. Church Lough, in this fertile valley, supports reed-beds and other vegetation, which in turn provide cover, food and nest sites for a wide variety of birds. Field boundaries and sod walls grow rich with wildflowers along the route here, especially where artificial fertiliser and herbicides have not been used.
A detour, left down the short steep hill, could end the walk at one of the island’s pubs. Straight ahead, past the post office, is the route to where we started at the new pier.
Inishbofin Ferries (Island Discovery)
Source: ‘Walking in Connemara: Shorter Walks to Explore the Hidden Connemara’, Connemara Tourism 1996. Available at The Clifden Bookshop.