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Letterkeen loop walks

 

The three Letterkeen Woods loop walks begin at the Brogan Carroll bothy, a stone hut at the access point for the woodland. The three loop walks have colour-coded signposts: red, blue and purple. Each of these walks requires a good level of fitness, especially the purple loop, which includes a climb and some rough ground. All three walks are on the same path for part of the way, so you will see blue, red and purple arrows together, especially at the beginning and end of each walk.

To get to Letterkeen, take the Newport Road (N59) out of Westport and continue through Newport on that road, signposted for Newport and Achill. Approximately 1km (0.6 miles) out of Newport, turn right (north) at a signpost for the Marine Institute and Lough Furnace. Follow this road through a crossroads at about 2km (1.2 miles) passing a disused two-storey house on your right. Continue along this road past Lough Feeagh on your left. Pass Treenlaur Youth Hostel and Shramore Lodge, and then cross a small bridge over the Srahrevagh River. Shortly after the bridge turn left onto a forestry roadway (following the signposts for the Bangor Trail and the Western Way). Follow the road about 1km, and the trailhead is located at the stone bothy.

 

Blue Loop

The 6km (3.7 mile) Blue Loop, also known as the Bothy Loop, begins at the stone bothy. Follow the red, blue and purple arrows about 100m to a footbridge and cross the Altaconey River. Turn left and walk along the river-bank track for nearly 1km to a humpbacked metal footbridge.

Cross the bridge and turn right to follow the remains of an old cattle road. At 1km, watch the signposts carefully: here the blue loop turns right onto a firebreak (strip of cleared land) and leaves the red and purple loops.

Follow the firebreak 500m, cross the stream and turn right onto a sandy roadway. Follow this road approximately 1.5km as it sweeps around to the left until you reach a T-junction and rejoin the red and purple loops. Turn right and follow the blue, red and purple arrows.

You will meet the Altaconey River and walk along it for about 2km to return to the trailhead.

Red Loop

The 10km (6.2 miles) Red Loop, also known as the Lough Aroher Loop, likewise begins at the stone bothy. Follow the red, blue and purple arrows about 100m to a footbridge and cross the Altaconey River. Turn left and walk along the river-bank track for nearly 1km to a humpbacked metal footbridge.

Cross the bridge and turn right to follow the remains of an old cattle road. At 1km, the blue loop turns right, but you continue straight, following the red and purple arrows.

After about 2km, including a stream crossing, watch for a turn into the forestry via wooden posts, where you turn right to follow the red arrows. The purple loop continues straight.

Follow the forest track as it joins a sandy road that proceeds along the banks of Lough Aroher on your right. After a bit more than 1km, there is a sharp right bend where the loop continues onto a green track. The track ascends about 500m and rejoins the purple loop, which comes in from the left.

Continue on this now-stony track over the pass and descend until you reach a forestry road. Turn right. After about 1km, the blue loop joins the road from the right.

You will meet the Altaconey River and walk along it for about 2km to return to the trailhead.

Purple Loop

The longest of the loops at 12km (7.5 miles), the Purple Loop, also known as the Letterkeen Loop, is also the most difficult, as it involves some climbing and rough ground.

Like the blue and red loops, it begins at the stone bothy. Follow the purple, red and blue arrows about 100m to a footbridge and cross the Altaconey River. Turn left and walk along the river-bank track for nearly 1km to a humpbacked metal footbridge.

Cross the bridge and turn right to follow the remains of an old cattle road. At 1km, the blue loop turns right, but you continue straight, following the purple and red arrows.

After about 2km, including a stream crossing, watch for a turn into the forestry via wooden posts. This is where the red loop turns off your route. Continue straight here for only another 200m and turn right and begin climbing, following an old wire fence.

Follow the fence to the top of the hill, and bear right. Here, your route is going around the corner of the forestry. Follow the purple arrows very carefully on this steep ascent to 311m, the highest point on the walk. Note the fine views.

Turn right and walk towards the edge of the forestry, then turn left. After 300m, turn right and proceed steeply downhill on a narrow path through the trees. At the bottom of the hill, you will rejoin the red loop, turning left.

Continue on this stony track over the pass and descend until you reach a forestry road. Turn right. After about 1km, the blue loop joins the road from the right.

You will meet the Altaconey River and walk along it for about 2km to return to the trailhead.

 

A brochure and maps of all three loops are available here.

 

Letterkeen loop walks on the map

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