Mayo North offers a vast selection of outdoor activities and the area is often referred to as a destination for the outdoors adventurer. In Mayo North, there is something for everyone, its renown amongst hill walkers, climbers and adventure seekers, but with that being said, the first point of call for all adventure enthusiasts is Nephin. Nephin is the second highest mountain in Connaught and climbing Nephin is also one of the top 12 things to do in Crossmolina!
Travel from Crossmolina to Lahardane on the R315 for 7km. Take the first turn right after the 50km sign. From Castlebar take the R310 towards Pontoon and Crossmolina, on leaving Lahardane look for the green Nephin sign and turn left. Continue for 4km to the carpark. Cross the road and continue towards the forest for an enjoyable, challenging climb.
The total distance of the route is approximately six miles (10km) and the walking time is four hours to six hours, depending on your ability. The terrain toward the summit is rough ground that consist of loose stone and shale and not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties. The mountain is contained in the Ordinance Survey Map Discovery Series Sheets 23 or 31.
Nephin can be accessed by different routes. Although there is no one way to climb the mountain, it is advisable to seek advice before the ascent. Information and guide access can be obtained by contacting Crossmolina Tourist Office (096 30935) or visiting crossmolina.ie.
Just recently, thanks to Mayo County Council, the Nephin’s Haven group and the local community, a new marked trail has been put in place to take you all the way to the top of the mountain! Head towards Lahardane from Crossmolina and use this Google Maps link to the Nephin Car Park. Ascend with care!
Another point of access to the Nephin ridge is from the R312. There is off-road parking near here.
Another point of access is from the north. Again there is a layby nearby, cross the fence and follow the stream uphill.
There is also another route from the east. The route starts up a private road which is access for a pump house. The pump house is in a locked compound at the end. When you get to the end you go through a gate directly in front of you then straight away the gate to your right, walk another 150m and you are at the start of the climb just over the small stream. Do not block the gate into the access road. Many locals use this route but as with all private land be prepared to ask should you encounter the landowner. (More information on walkingroutes.ie)
A cairn marks the summit which sets itself an amazing view of the surrounding countryside. You will encounter the vast blankets of bog in the Erris regions.
The mountain overlooks Lough Conn and on a clear day, but legend has it you can see the mountains of Donegal and Connemara – the locals say you can see seven counties on a clear day!
It is recommend that you descend the mountain by the same route. Although there are other routes, its highly recommended you return via the route you came.
If you don’t feel confident tackling the mountain on your own, why not contact one of our local guides who will be happy to guide you safely to the summit?
Rachel at Rachel’s Irish Adventures
Georgia and Ged at Terra Firma Ireland
Derek at Walk West Ireland
Be aware that it’s incredibly easy to get lost on a mountain, even in this age of technology, and particularly if cloud ascends quickly and unexpectedly. Prepare before you climb and do not take any risks. Before climbing Nephin, make sure to do the following:
Check the weather: The weather can change quickly so it is important to have suitable clothing and footwear. If it’s likely to rain, or if there could be a possible drop in temperature this will determine your clothing choice as well as the difficulty of the climb. And remember, the higher you go, the colder it gets!
Dress appropriately and wear suitable footwear – preferably a good pair of hiking boots. Layer up in breathable fabrics and bring something waterproof – this will also shield you from the wind. Wear something bright – if the worst happens and you need rescuing, it will help the crew to spot you.
Know what time the sun sets and try to avoid getting caught in the dark. If you think there’s a chance you might, bring a torch.
Stick to the marked trail if you’re a novice climber.
Tell someone exactly where you are going and let them know what time you expect to be back, especially if you’re setting out alone.
Look over your route in advance: Take note of landmarks or natural formations that should appear along your route, and know what direction you are heading: North, South, East or West. It’s best to have someone with you who can read a map and use a compass. Before climbing Nephin, take a photo of your map, in case it blows away or gets damaged!
Charge your phone: Make sure your battery is fully charged, and consider bringing a power pack, especially if it’s a cold day, as the cold may drain your battery.
Bring food and water – something to keep you going if your energy levels dip or if your walk takes longer than you planned.
Learn the number for Mountain Rescue: 999/112.