Want to really go wild on the Atlantic Way? How about fending for yourself? Catch your own dinner, hunt for your veg, cook it up yourself on a barbecue and sleep under the stars. By the time you’re done, British survival expert Bear Grylls won’t be able to hold a candle to you – even one he made himself from foraged beeswax.
Five ways to pretend you’re Bear Grylls in Westport
1. Foraging fun
Fancy a little something to go with your fish? Let archaeologist Will Williams of Walk on the Wild Side bring you foraging for mushrooms and other deliciously free delicacies in Westport’s woods and hedgerows and along its coastlines. Will just loves to educate people on local plants and their uses as food and medicine, as well as their cultural importance through the ages, both locally and internationally. Discover sea beet, samphire, sorrel, spaghetti seaweed, wild garlic, wracks, fruits and berries, edible roots, pepper duilsce, sea grass and all manner of mushroom. And with over 50 years of foraging under his belt, Will certainly knows his Chanterelles and Hedgehogs from his Fly Agarics, so you’ll be in the safest of hands.
Call Will on 087 6249894 or find Walk on the Wild Side Louisburgh on Facebook.
2. Fish for your supper
Land your own dinner by heading out into Clew Bay with marine biologist Shay Fennelly of Wild Atlantic Charters or The Towers Restaurant charter fishing boat. While you’re out angling for a fish, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Clew Bay, it's wildlife and its myriad of small islands. You’ll also learn a lot about the bay and its history, and if you’re lucky get to watch some common seals (just remember, they want your dinner).
For those who really want to focus on fishing, try a spot of deep-sea angling with Fishing Westport. Reg Roynon has captained the Lady Helen fishing boat for more than 20 years. His fishing trips include day trips in Clew Bay with a chance to catch up to 20 separate species of fish, including mackerel, pollock, dogfish, ray, shark and skate. Reg also runs fishing trips that include an overnight stay on Clare Island – ideal for groups, stags, hens and corporate team building. For more information, call Reg on 087 7647789 or visit fishingwestport.com.
3. Beat about the bush
Mac Tíre Bushcraft, run by Colm Mahon, is a Westport-based bushcraft adventure course. It offers groups the chance to reconnect with nature and learn more about the natural environment. The bushcraft courses are set in the inspiring landscapes of west Mayo, including woodland and beautiful waterways. Different types of courses are available, depending on the level of expertise of participants.
The tour involves a good deal of ‘learning by doing’, including collecting, carving, creating, cooking, craft, and above all cooperation (no fighting over the bush tucker, then!). All overnight participants are expected to camp out of doors in a small tent, or basha, for the duration of the course.
For more details, check out www.mactirebushcraft.com.
4. Throw it on the barbie
What better way to enjoy your hunting spoils than food than to cook it up yourself, al fresco? Pick a beach – the more sheltered the better, so maybe Old Head or Carramore – throw a portable barbecue and camping stove in the boot, and don’t forget the bubbles and a bag for the rubbish.
Nothing quite beats the feeling of chowing down on food that you sourced yourself. Not only do you know exactly where it came from, you get a great sense of achievement. As the sun sets on the bay and you munch on your day’s rewards, remember to raise a glass to nature and its bounties – and to the wilds of Westport, of course!
5. Glamp it up
When it comes to camping, not everyone relishes the idea of battling with tent poles and sitting on muddy logs. Never fear the gorgeous grounds of Westport House is Westports best campsite with tonnes of things to do for kids, an onsite bar and all the facilities you need. Their beautiful bell tents complete with beds, kitchen equipment and even a picnic bench. The campsite is just a 5min walk through the beautiful grounds into the heart of Westport Town. See Westport House Camping for more.
At Doon, just 5km from Westport on the N5, hidden away amid rolling hills and green fields, you’ll find Westport Glamping. With all the outdoorsy feel of camping, without the pesky discomfort, Westport Glamping’s gorgeously cosy ‘pods’ sleep up to four adults.
Light and airy, with an elegant wood finish, the pods have comfy couches and even more comfortable beds with crisp, fresh bed linen. So long damp sleeping bag and cold ground, hello sweet, soft luxury! They even have toilets and washbasins, so no need to head off into the woods with a spade, looking sheepish. (If you really want to rough it though, you can always pitch a tent beside the pods for an additional €15 per day.)
The owners of Westport Glamping, Martin and Marie, are happy to show you around their farm, where you can pet their Connemara ponies and ‘forage’ for eggs from their chicken coup. Sort of Bear Grylls Light, really.
See Westport Glamping for more details.
Not into roughing it for yourself?
If none of the above tickle your fancy, or indeed you want a bit of luxury after you have achieved all of your survival skills check out some of Westport’s best hotels and guest houses here.