Headwater - Cycling the Loughs and Lanes of Connemara, Self-Guided Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays
Trip Code:
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Min age: 12

Trip Overview

Along the way, pass sparkling running rivers and the famous Irish bogs, whilst on the coast, the crisp blue Atlantic breaks on white sandy undeveloped beaches.This is a rural, idyllic land, where not much has changed over the centuries. Tiny hamlets scatter the way, with a warm welcome afforded anywhere you stop. Connemara, or 'Inlets of the Sea', is a stunning peninsula with a haunting natural beauty.

At a Glance

  • 7 Nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • 6 Days cycling
  • High quality bikes provided
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Countries visited: Ireland

Trip Highlights

  • The stunning, wild Connemara peninsula
  • Scenic routes shadowed by stunning mountains
  • Killary Harbour, Ireland's only true fjord
  • Fresh seafood and famous Connemara lamb
  • Spectacular views of the Nephin mountain range

Is This Trip for You?

Cycling Conditions

Classification: Self-Guided
Average daily distance on move on days: 45km (28 miles). 
No. of days cycling: 6  (including 1 optional ride)
Terrain and route: The suggested cycling mainly follows quiet tarmac roads and lanes.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next. A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There maybe others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. We have suggested the minimum age for this trip is 12yrs as we feel they will be able to ride the bikes we have to offer and complete the route. However our local partner is able to offer child seats for children aged 2-4yrs (max. weight 22 kg, hills will be tricky). These are all subject to availability, and therefore we ask that you enquire about these on booking. As a guide we have suggested that 12yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities. Please bear in mind the weather when choosing to book, temperatures can be high in the middle of summer and the child seats provided do not have any shade.


As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. A local representative is on hand to assist you and will meet you at the beginning of the week to go through the route notes and point out particular places of interest. Your luggage is transferred and route directions and maps are provided. Please note: the luggage transfers included in this tour are subject to a minimum of 2 people (in total) booked on the departure. A supplement (payable in advance) to cover these transfers and sole occupancy of a room will apply if only 1 person travelling on a departure date.

Adult min age:
Child min age:

Child max age:



Land Only

Start City:
End City:

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Ballina

    After checking in, you will be greeted with a cead mele failte, a cup of tea and some homemade treats from Marjorie's kitchen.Your host will discuss the week's itinerary and prepare the bikes so you are ready for the fun week of adventure that lies ahead. It's just a two-minute stroll to the local pub for dinner and a pint of Guinness where you can also enjoy some live music and soak up the atmosphere with the locals. (Staying at Brigown Bed and Breakfast, Breakfast only)

  • Day 2

    Ballina to Castlebar

    Wake up your taste buds with Marjorie’s delicious wholesome breakfast whilst overlooking the River Moy and Belleek Woods. From the hotel, follow the path along the famous River Moy and watch the salmon jump before stopping off at Belleek castle for a tour of the castle and dungeons. It’s then a short cycle to follow the Lough Conn route to Castlebar. Here you will pass by the famous fishing lakes of Lough Conn and Lough Cullin and enjoy spectacular views of the Nephin mountain range. Arriving into Castlebar, you will have time to take a short detour to visit the Turlough National Country Life Museum and discover the history of Irish culture and traditions. After settling into your accommodation, explore the streets of Castlebar and choose from one of the many renowned restaurants for dinner. (Staying at Carragh House Bed and Breakfast, Breakfast only)

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 40 km / 25 miles
  • Day 3

    Castlebar to Westport

    Leaving Castlebar, it's into country roads along the unspoilt spectacular winding valleys of the natural heritage region on Glenhest, where you will pass by the picturesque Beltra Lough. You will then arrive in the lovely town of Newport, which is rich in history and culture and is also the perfect place to stop off for a coffee and homemade treat in Kelly's Cafe. From Newport you will follow the greenway for 11km into colourful Westport town, enjoying idyllic views of Clew Bay and the Irish countryside (the greenway is a 45km designated cycle route that continues from Westport to Achill Island; up until 1937 it was a train line). This afternoon you could choose from a variety of activities or cultural visits such as visiting Westport House, kayaking around Clew Bay and its 365 islands or taking a tour of one of the local breweries. In the evening, you can wander around the bustling streets and enjoy live traditional music in one of the many pubs. There is no shortage of restaurants to choose from, whether you want tasty local pub food, vegan food or to treat yourself to an upmarket specialised gourmet menu. (Staying at Clew Bay Hotel, Breakfast only)

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 42 km / 26 miles
  • Day 4

    Westport to Leenane

    Heading out of Westport you soon find yourselves on quiet country roads passing wonderful countryside. Green meadows soon turn to bogs as Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain, looms overhead. Pass the tiny hamlet of Liscarney, and fields of sheep. Cross the Owenmore River at aptly titled Owenmore Bridge, before cycling the stunning Tawnyard Lough and through Tawnyard Forest. Drop down to Leenane on the Killary Fjord to your hotel. At Leenane, relax in the village, walk along the Western Way, or cycle or take a boat ride along the fjord. (Staying at Leenane Hotel, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 39 km / 24.5 miles
  • Day 5

    Leenane to Lough Inagh

    From Leenane you take a wonderful quiet road that meanders through the mountains, isolated countryside, passing bogs and loughs. You'll enjoy stunning views of the Big Bens (12 local peaks). Maams village is great stop-off point, a tiny hamlet on Broch river, with just the one pub! Crossing the Failmore River, you descend to Maams Cross, a crossroads that is slightly bigger than the village, before passing the entrance to Mamean (a local pilgrimage path) and arriving at Lough Inagh. (Staying at Lough Inagh Lodge, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 44 km / 27.5 miles
  • Day 6

    Lough Inagh to Delphi

    We head along a wonderful road along Lough Inagh with views of the Connemara National Park, heading back through Leenane you circle the Killary fjord before picking up the Sky Road and onto Fin Lough and your hotel. (Staying at Delphi Resort, Half Board)

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 35 km / 22 miles
  • Day 7

    Delphi to Westport

    You continue on the stunning Sky Road, passing the shores of Doo and Glencullen loughs, before a lovely freewheel into Louisburgh on the coast. Then, following the coast road, you'll enjoy great views of Crough Patrick back into Westport (it's a 4km climb there and back). (Staying at Clew Bay Hotel, Breakfast Only)

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 41 km / 26 miles
  • Day 8

    Leave Westport

    Leave Westport, or perhaps have a couple of extra nights in the lively town.

    Meals included:

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.


Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts

On this holiday you stay in a mix of 3 and 4 star hotels, lodges and Bed & Breakfasts, from the cosy Brigown B&B in Ballina and the stunning scenery around Lough Inagh Lodge to the delightful Leenane Hotel looking out over Killary Harbour and the 4 star Delphi Resort & Spa.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from 509.60 CHF

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts and three evening meals included.


Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

The climate on the West Coast of Ireland is mild due to its location and the influence of the Gulf Stream. The weather, however, is temperamental and proves quite hard to predict, therefore it is important to be prepared for all weather. The warmer months tend to be the summer months, July and August, with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Temperatures rarely fall below 0 during the year. The wettest months tend to be from October through to March. April is often the driest month. Rain can be expected at any time of the year. 

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

If you have pre-booked a transfer you will be met at Ballina train station and transferred (5 mins) to your bed and breakfast in Ballina. Please contact us or your local agent to advise of arrival time.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Transfers are included from Ballina train station to Brigown Bed & Breakfast at any time and from Clew Bay Hotel to Westport train station at any time (5 mins).

Location start:
Location end:

What to Take

Essential Equipment


Warm jumper/fleece


Water bottle (1 litre) you will be able to refill each day at the accommodation.

Local Bike Details

A quality local hire bike is included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.


1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.
2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.
3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment
4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Bringing Your Own Bike

If you prefer the familiarity of your own bike, you may of course bring it along. Please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount off the price of the holiday, as specified above. You will be responsible for any extra baggage charges, please speak to our Sales team for individual airline fees. Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure they have adequate cover for loss, damage or theft under their travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. If Exodus is confident that we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the safety of your bike, in the rare event of loss, damage or theft you will need to claim under your own insurance policy.

Extra Bike Bits

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets

Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.

For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries we travel to wearing a helmet is already a legal requirement.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

Recommended Cycling Clothing

Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack.

Practical Information



Most nationalities, including British, require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.



Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.



No vaccinations are obligatory.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Ireland's Timezone:
Europe/Dublin IST (GMT +01:00)


Ireland's Electricity:

230v 50hz. The plugs and sockets are the same as the ones used in the UK, involving the three-pronged formation. 


Ireland's Currency

The national currency of Ireland is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (October 2017) of approximately 1.1 to the GBP,  0.84 to the USD, 0.67 to the CAD, 0.66 to the AUD and 0.59 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

ATMs are widely available, but we recommend taking some Euros cash with you in case you can't get to a bank at the start of the trip. Cards are widely accepted.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will need spending money for meals not included in the itinerary and all drinks. We suggest €25 per day to cover a few drinks if not then €10 per day. On the days where lunch or dinner is not included expect to spend €10-€15 for lunch and €15-€35 for dinner.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.



The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.


These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.