If you’re into the outdoors, North Mayo is a paradise waiting to be explored. With miles and miles of mixed terrain – rugged mountains, cliff walks, charming looped walks and opportunities to indulge in sport, you’ll never be stuck for something to do. Here in Mayo North Tourism, we have put together a list for you of seven free outdoor activities to enjoy in North Mayo, to make your holiday, short break or weekend off more enjoyable and interesting!
1. Hiking and mountain Climbing – A great free outdoor activity to enjoy!
With lots of mountain ranges to explore, you’ll be spoilt for choice for locations in North Mayo. The most popular would be the Ox Mountains in either Attymass or Bonniconlon, or the Nephin Begs, a short drive from Lahardane.
There are many hills and mountains in the Bonniconlon and Tubbercurry areas for the mountain climber enthusiast to conquer, such as the Windy gap centred around the beautiful lake of Lough Talt, towards the town of Tubbercurry.
In Attymass there is a huge range of hills for the explorer to sample, starting at the foot of the Ox mountains in the centre of Attymass and the surrounding areas to hill formations located in areas such as Kilgelia, Cullan, Roosky or Ruscaigh and Curradrish located also in Attymass.
Visit Sligo Walks for information on the Ox Mountains or refer to this great Outsider Magazine guide to the Nephin Begs.
And of course there’s Nephin – not one to be attempted without an experienced guide unless you’re guaranteed good weather, but a great climb nonetheless. Read more about climbing Nephin here.
Click here for more information on walking trails in Mayo.
2. Picnics – one of our favourite free outdoor activities!
Why not pick up some snacks and stop for a picnic on your journey using the many picnic tables and benches that are provided to tourists, or spread out a rug and create your own picnic experience? Again there are many places to choose from for your picnic from the many unspoiled quality beaches around such as Enniscrone, Lacken, Ross, Killala, Lough Conn and Pontoon and the Knockmore Foxford locations.
Pick up some freshly backed local bread in one of our bakeries or some locally produced butter or cheese and choose your picnic spot. Visitors can choose to have their picnics in other tourist areas to such as Lahardane, a quiet quaint little village that is also host to the Titanic Memorial Park, remembering the emigrants who left the village to set sail on the tragic Titanic. Or hitch a boat ride with a local from the Quay in Ballina to Bartragh Island, Killala for rugged golden shores and plenty of room to spread out your rug for a picnic or feast of your choice.
3. Nature walks
With a host of places to experience this could turn out to be a very much fun outdoor thing to do, witness the squirrel sanctuary in the thick of Belleek Woods with its many stoppage historical sites to investigate and paths added to this townland central park, Attymass, Pontoon, Bonniconlon, Knockmore, Enniscoe, and all the surrounding areas have lots of unspoiled nature to observe such as natural vegetation, bogs, fauna, rare mushrooms, bird watching, wildlife i.e. frogs, 4. grasshoppers, tadpoles, worms etc.
There are many trails and places in abundance for this activity most notably located in the scenic areas of Ballycastle, Downpatrick Head, Killala/Ballina, Attymass, Knockmore and pontoon for this activity including the surrounding areas and throughout the county as well. Or why not get off the beaten track and forge your own path?
Sightseeing is something that might be taken for granted and perhaps not described as the most exciting outdoor thing to do, but this changes as one approaches the gates of the Wild Atlantic Way as these sights do take your breath away when one witnesses the sheer rugged beauty of these truly amazing landscapes and views.
County Mayo has this in abundance but the unmissable Céide Coast from Killala to Belmullet has to be seen to be believed, taking in the Céide Fields, located in Ballycastle, as well as Lacken, Downpatrick Head, and Carrowteige. Also worth seeing inland are our lake lands, and the Wild Nephin Wilderness Ballycroy National Park is a delight. Check out the Monasteries of the Moy and discover the myriad of monuments to our historical past scattered throughout the landscape. surrounding areas.
5. Wildlife observation/Recording/photography
One of our favourite free outdoor activities would have to be the observation of flora, fauna and wildlife in our wonderful picturesque landscape. Visitors or locals alike can observe our wildlife such as foxes, birds, red squirrels, badgers, hares, rabbits etc. For wildlife enthusiasts and novices alike Mayo is the ideal habitat for the photography, recording or podcasts of wildlife and the general scenery as a whole. Enthusiasts can document or archive their findings/footage or recordings for personal use or educational purposes or whatever.
Locations that would be ideal or might tick this box consist of the unspoiled areas of the Belderrig mountain range, located in Ballycastle, including the natural wildlife landscape that are in abundance at this location. You may even spot a whale in the Atlantic Ocean. Also not forgetting the surrounding adjacent areas that come into play here, including remote areas in Crossmolina, Ballycastle, Killala, Ballina, Attymass, Knockmore and much more, which offer wildlife habitats to the novice to observe and document. Visit Ballycroy National Park to learn lots about our native wildlife or Birdwatch Mayo for details of upcoming events.
6. Collecting shells/mussels/cockles
Sticking with this theme, another fun outdoor thing to do for the visitor is the activity of collecting sea shells, muscles and cockles, which are in abundance on this terrific unspoiled shoreline, which, would serve as a topic of conversation if anything else among friends and the marine novice alike, who might take a further interest to look this sea life up online and further document these findings, maybe create a blog of their own. Why not enjoy a sea swim while there?
We do however advise people to do this very sparingly, mindful of the impact on the natural environment.
Such locations that might spring to mind include Lacken Strand, Ross beach, Enniscrone beach and Bartragh Island, Killala, along with the various lakes and ponds that populate North Mayo such as Lough Talt, Bonniconlon, Lough Conn, Knockmore, lakes and ponds in Kilgelia, Ballycong and Carrowkerribla in Attymass.
7. Enjoy a game of tennis or basketball in one of our parks!
It might not spring to mind, but a good game of tennis or basketball with the family is guaranteed as one of the top free outdoor activities to do in North Mayo!
Guests and visitors alike can avail of the many parks that are equipped for the family from swings for the children to sporting games such as tennis, basketball and footie for the adults or teenagers.
Such parks include Ballina’s Tom Ruane Park, Foxford MUGA, and the family resource centre in Knockmore, provide facilities for sport such as tennis, football and basketball.