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Bothy Loop – Nephin Beg

Wild Nephin National Park, Co Mayo Image courtesy Ireland's Content Pool / Gareth McCormack

Bothy Loop - Autumn aerial view over Wild Nephin Wilderness Area to the Nephin Beg Mountains. Ballycroy National Park, County Mayo, Ireland.

Experience Remote Wilderness on the Bothy Loop in North County Mayo

If you're looking for a truly remote and secluded hiking experience in Ireland, look no further than the Bothy Loop in North County Mayo. This looped walk, which follows blue arrows on old cattle roads, firebreaks, sandy roads, forest roads, and riverbanks, takes hikers through stunning forestry, with the bare summits of the Nephin Beg Mountain range in the distance and the spuming Altaconey River nearby.

Starting from the Brogan Carroll Bothy in Letterkeen Woods, which marks the junction of two long-distance waymarked trails - the Bangor Trail and the Western Way - hikers can choose from three looped walks, each of which combines a portion of the Bangor Trail and the Western Way. Two of the loops pass through the Sheep Pass, adding an extra level of adventure to the hike.

The Bothy Loop is an ideal location for a hushed getaway, as it is located 12km from the nearest town of Newport. The Bangor Trail, described as the loneliest trail in Ireland, was an old droving track used by farmers to take sheep from the Nephin Beg mountains to market. Now, it offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the stunning natural beauty of the area.

The looped walk starts with a 100m walk from the Bothy, crossing a metal footbridge and turning left onto the bank of the Altaconey River. Follow the track along the banks of the river for almost 1km to reach a 'humpback' metal footbridge. Cross the bridge and turn right to continue the loop, following blue arrows as you travel along what remains of an old cattle road.

After 1km, watch for the point where the loop turns right onto a firebreak and leaves the red and purple loops. Follow the firebreak for 500m to reach a stream crossing and join a sandy roadway where you turn right. Follow the sandy roadway for about 1.5km as it sweeps left and reaches a T-junction with a forestry road, where you rejoin the red and purple loops. Turn right, following the blue (and red and purple arrows) as the loop takes you onto and along the Altacroney River for 2km to regain the trailhead.

In conclusion, the Bothy Loop is a must-visit destination for hikers looking for a secluded and adventurous hike through the stunning wilderness of North County Mayo. Make sure to plan your visit and experience the raw beauty of this hidden gem in Ireland.