Five reasons to fall in love with Westport in autumn

Five reasons to fall in love with Westport in autumn

The shorter days of autumn bring brisk breezes, beautiful skies and harvest bounties. Here are five reasons why it’s worth taking a trip to Westport during this most romantic of seasons.

Ah the crunch of freshly fallen leaves underfoot – is there anything more autumnal? Westport is blessed with lots of fantastic forest walks close by, full of deciduous delights for vibrant autumn displays.

Feast your eyes on the changing colours of ancient Brackloon Woods, just 7km out the Leenane Road – or head to Old Head oak forest near Louisburgh – it’s Ireland’s only Atlantic-Oak forest that grows right on the coast. Take a half-an-hour’s spin down to the enchanting Tourmakeady Forest and its magical waterfall, or stay in town and enjoy the majestic woodlands of the Westport House Estate.

Don’t forget your camera for those seasonal snaps….

Many of the hotels in Westport boast world-class spas, each offering their own signature treatments. Head to Westport Plaza’s Spa Sula thermal suites and find a tranquil sanctuary – and an outdoor hot tub. Knockranny House Hotel’s Spa Salveo offers everything from lavender floatation therapy to its Scandinavia-inspired Sami Zen treatment package.

Senses Spa at Hotel Westport offers a taste of Turkey with a hammam experience and traditional mud and steam treatments. Feel like a little bit of India in the west? The Spa at the Westport Coast Hotel offers a range of rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments.

Now, what says autumn more than a settling down to a crackling fire in a cosy pub? Many of Westport’s famously welcoming hostelries have roaring open fires where you can toast your toes while you wet your whistle. Among them are McGing’s on High Street, Toby’s on The Fairgreen, Blouser’s on James’ Street, Matt Molloy’s and MacBride’s on Bridge Street, The Big Tree on Peter Street and McCarthy’s on Quay Hill.

Sit back, relax and enjoy a hot whiskey, a cold beer or a warming Irish coffee. Mmmmm…

Westport is firmly on the foodie map, with restaurants galore offering the very best locally sourced, seasonal fare for you to savour.

Menus brim with the season’s bounties – think pumpkin soup, root-veg stew, nut loaf, mountain lamb, venison roast, wild rabbit and platters of new-season native oysters. And for desert, well what could be better than homemade apple pie, fresh from the orchard?

Rumbling stomachs will soon be quiet, and very, very happy.

Or why not find your own food? It’s free, and it’s everywhere!

Westport’s lush hedgerows are weighed down with delicious sweet blackberries just waiting to be plucked by eager hands. Keep an eye out too for damson trees, and fill a bag with their plummy fruits (a bit tart to eat raw, but divine when made into jam or baked in a crumble). Hazelnuts come into their own as well, while teeny but intensely sweet wild strawberries can be found by the eagle-eyed forager right up to the end of September.

And while you’re walking through our beautiful woodlands, remember to scan the forest floor for autumnal stands of golden chanterelle mushrooms – use them to make a wild mushroom risotto, or just fry them up in butter and gorge!