Category

travel

Category

The Diamond Hill Hike in Galway is a really popular attraction in Connemara National Park. The hill is part of the 12 Bens but standing on its own, will give you the best panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Don’t let the word hill fool you, I would for sure consider it a mountain, standing at 445 metres. BUT, paths and steps have been added to make it accessible to all. Whether the sun is shining or the clouds have rolled in its aa great thing to do. Perfect for those who love the outdoors, hiking or photography. Make sure you don’t miss it.

 

Where is the Diamond Hill Hike Galway?

Diamond Hill is an isolated peak of the twelve bends. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a mountain range in Connemara. You can find it in Letterfrack, a small village known for its traditional music sessions. There is not all that much in the village really, but a few pubs and restaurants – and Connemara National Park of course.

diamond hill connemara

How to Get to Connemara National Park for hiking Diamond Hill?

For driving from Galway, head straight out the N59 through Connemara. This is such a beautiful drive you will be hanging out the windows in awe of the landscape. You can stay on the N59 right the way to Letterfrack or take a left turn at Recess onto the R344. This will bring you right to Letterfrack.

From Mayo, head to the N59 and go south. This road will bring you right to Letterfrack.

Bus routes go out to Letterfrack daily from Galway city, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the green fields and wild mountains zooming past the window. For time tables definitely check out these websites:

City Link: https://www.citylink.ie/timetables
Bus Eireann:  https://www.buseireann.ie/inner.php?id=406

 

Diamond Hill Walking Trails

eoghan map

 

There are 4 trails to choose from when visiting Diamond Hill.

Ellis Wood Nature Tail (Green) 0.5 Kms

This is a very quick little walk at only half a kilometre in distance. This is a perfect trail for a family with small kids. As with the other trails, it starts and ends at the visitor centre however this walk passes through the woods, and allows visitors to enjoy the wildflowers, wildlife and even a waterfall.

Sruffaunboy Walk (Yellow) 1.5 Km

 

Again this is a shorter loop walk and is ideal for families. This walk also passes by fields of horses and donkeys which the kids will love, although pretty sure everyone does. We were not the only group of “grown-ups” to stop and try and entice the donkeys over to the fence for a quick scratch behind the ears!

horse connemara

If doing the full hike you will pass through this walk either on your way out or back into the visitor centre.

Lower Diamond Hill Walk (Blue) 3 k

Diamond hill hike, mountain, green, galway, ireland

The Lower Diamond Hill walk is where you start the incline towards the summit. It is a 3km loop and passes through boggy grassland with large rocks scattered around the landscape – left there by retreating glaciers during the last ice age  14,000 years ago.

This walk includes a wooden boardwalk at parts and although it’s the lower section, you will still see views across Kylemore Lough from this trail. So you won’t miss out if you’re not doing the full hill. From this trail you can continue on the loop back to the centre if you’ve had enough, or start the Upper Diamond Hill trail to climb the summit.

Upper diamond Hill Walk (Red) 3.7 km

Diamond hill hike, mountain, green, galway, ireland

The upper Hill trail continues from the lower trail, and brings you right up to the summit of the hill. In doing the Upper walk, you will be taking in parts of three trails (yellow, blue and red) walking about 7km in total. Depending on your speed and how often you stop to soak in the scenery, it can take up to 3 hours to do the whole thing.

It always takes me about double the time I advise for these kinds of walks because I stop literally every 5 minutes to take photos!

On a good day, you will have views of surrounding Connemara. Including Kylemore abbey in the distance as well as Kylemore Lough. Unfortunately on a bad day, these views may be covered by a curtain of fog and cloud – which was my experience!

 

My Experience of Diamond Hill Hike

Diamond hill hike, mountain, green, galway, ireland

Getting there:

The day I conquered Diamond Hill, I was with Eoghan and two friends. We drove out to Letterfrack from Galway and stopped off on the edge of Killary fjord along the way. A blue cloudless sky stretched out above us and we stood and took in – sandwiched between the steep mountains either side, stretching out to the Atlantic ocean.

On the shores of the fjord, you’ll find the “Misunderstood Heron”, named by Loney Planet as one of the worlds 10 coolest food trucks. We wanted to get food but were too early. I will definitely be heading back.

killary fjord, harbour, galway

We continued on and finally arrived at the car park. The car park itself wedged but we were able to park along the entrance road – the whole was lined with cars either side.

The Lower trail of Diamond Hill:

After a quick stop off at the visitor centre for a toilet break, we started the lower Diamond Hill walk. We never planned to do the whole thing but just wanted to go to see how we got on. Sadly, the blue skies quickly vanished, smothered by thick grey cloud. However, that didn’t make the surrounding landscape any less beautiful.

Diamond hill hike, mountain, green, galway, ireland

We followed the bog road out of the centre which gradually started inclining. Not gonna lie, even though I spend a lot of time outside walking, I would consider myself quite unfit. Only a few minutes in and I was gasping for air haha. I was actually quite worried that I wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing, but as I warmed up it got much easier.

You are on a gravel path at the beginning which eventually meets a flat wooden boardwalk over the more boggy areas. After getting to the point which connects to the upper trail, we decided to continue on and  – we’d made it that far after all!

Numerous times we stopped to look out over the landscape, and about halfway up there was a viewpoint where the majority of people were stopping to get photos. Even blanketed in clouds the views were pretty amazing.

Upper Trail:

diamon view hike point

The upper hill walk was a lot steeper, naturally enough! Thankfully, there were lots of stone steps to make it easier. At parts you do feel like you’re just clambering over rocks – although maybe that’s due to my height, small people be warned! With a lot of breaks (on my part- which a lot of the time I pretended to be photo stops) we made it to the top.

Diamond hill hike, mountain, green, galway, ireland

We were raging, because the closer we got to the top, the further we descended into the cloud. By the time we reached the summit, we were fully enveloped by the clouds and could not see a thing! Pretty disappointing to miss the rewarding views but it was still a really enjoyable climb and I was so happy I did it all. I was very proud of myself!

Diamond hill hike, mountain, green, galway, ireland

After planting ourselves down for a snack break, we made our way down the other side again. Once below the cloud line, the weather improved and we could see Kylemore Abbey and Lough not far off in the distance.

kylemore abbey galway

The yellow trail on the way back to the Visitors Centre:

I always find going down is so much easier and pretty much flew back down. At the end, when you join onto the yellow trail, there are fields which have horses. They were so friendly and came over for rubs. Which only made the day even better!

 

The Visitor Centre

The visitor centre is free too and has a photo gallery, information desk, picnic area and children’s playground. There is also a cafe to fuel up before or after your hike and toilets of course!

It generally opens 9 – 530 not including Christmas or Stephens Day, however again I would always check the official website for the accurate times:

Connemara National Park Visitor Centre Website.

The day that I visited, we only used the visitor centre for the toilets before and after our hike. I am quite disappointed that we didn’t check out the grounds more and will definitely be trying out the cafe and exploring a bit more on my next visit.

We followed the bog road which gradually started inclining. Not gona lie, eve

Other things to note about the Diamond Hill hike:

  • Free parking and entry to the park
  • Dogs are allowed in the park grounds – don’t forget waste bags!
  • No Drones

FAQS about Diamond Hill

How to get to Diamond hill?

It is a handy drive to the visitor centre from Galway city. You will be taking the N59 to Clifden and following the road out to Letterfrack. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes from the city and is ~78 km. If travelling from the other direction such as Westport, you will be driving the same N59 just south, to get to Letterfrack.

Getting to Diamond hill It is a handy drive to the visitor centre from Galway city. You will be taking the n59 to clifden and following the road out to letterfrack. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes from the city and is ~78 km. If travelling from the other direction such as westport, you will be driving the same n59 to get to letterfrack. 

Is the Diamond Hill hike difficult?

Standing at 442m it’s not huge, although the upper walk is definitely a bit of a push to get to the top. Overall I would say it’s not that difficult. If you stop for breaks you can manage it without too much difficulty – If I can do it, pretty much anyone can! That being said, the top is a lot of clambering over rocks and would not be suitable for anyone with mobility issues.

is it difficult diamond hill

Is Diamond Hill Hike Family-friendly?

Definitely! The two smaller trails are perfect for small children, one allowing them to enjoy the woods and nature, the other bringing them by the horses and donkeys for entertainment.

The lower trail had a lot of kids and there were even children doing the full hike. If you have athletic/energetic kids above ~5 years old I think it would be okay for them to do it. Like I said, we saw small kids who did it with no trouble. There were even babies strapped to their parent’s backs on the longer trail. Overall the place is very family-friendly with a playground in the centre if they’re not tired out enough from the hike!

Diamond Hill Weather

boardwalk galway

As always in Ireland, you need to be prepared for all seasons in one day! We had sun, drizzle, fog and thick clouds. As always, light layers are best to ensure you are prepared for the weather

  • Windproof / waterproof jacket
  • A hat that covers your ears – it can get windy!
  • Comfortable hiking boots

Final Thoughts on Diamond Hill

I really enjoyed Diamond Hill Hike in Galway. I was surprised by how quickly we managed to do it, even with my 4534r24703813810 breaks! Although the bad weather rolled in, it didn’t really affect our day, we still got to see connemara from above. I already can’t wait to go and do it again, and maybe we’ll even get a bit of sunshine next time!

It is so accessible with paths, boardwalks and steps. Highly recommend going to Diamond hill if you’re visiting Galway.

Tinyboots 

tinyboots in connemara

Nearby attractions:

Kylemore Abbey

More things to do in Galway:

Menlo Castle
Galway Wind Park
Rosscahill Woods
Cong
Brigits Garden 

Pin this post for later:

pinterest

Galway Wind Park is Ireland’s largest and best-performing wind farm. It is located in Southwest Oughterard, and you can find plenty of walking trails here as part of Galway Wind Way.

I’ve been and had such a good time there. The perfect place for a Sunday day out. The trails pass through quiet, peaceful woodland and also give views of Connemara hills and valleys formed by the ice age 14,000 years ago. If you want to learn more about this family-friendly activity, keep reading!

Galway Wind Way

The Trails of Galway Wind Way

Galway Wind Way has 6 trails expanding over 48 km of hills shaped by the last ice age. The valleys and hills here were formed by the retreating glaciers which dropped off the large rocks you’ll see dotted across the park. This is interesting to geology nerds like me!

The trails range from a very short mere 5-minute stroll to 4-hour long trail.

  1. Split Rock trail – Very short- 5 minutes (Red)

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The Split Rock Trail is short and very easy. We tried it out first. It has it’s own (very) small car park (car park 4) and takes you along a short path by some windmill up to a mast. There is a viewpoint with a bench to sit and relax, looking out at the park before following the same path back to the car again.

This path is really easy and only takes a few minutes. However, it is pushchair and wheelchair accessible. I would say it’s nice for a little stroll with young children or for those with mobility issues.

Time: 5 minutes
Distance: 200 m
Difficulty: Easy

2. Peak Ridge Path – 1 hour 15 minutes (Purple)

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The Peak Ridge Path is the main one Eoghan and I did on our recent jaunt and we had a great time doing it. The path starts in car park 2 and takes you through woodland. It was really peaceful and you could hear the calming whirring of the windmills in the distance. While following the path along, you regularly catch glimpses of the spinning turbines through gaps in the trees.

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The path winds its way through the forest with inclines along the route. As you come out of the trees into an open area, you will be amazed by the views in front of you. The hills expand out all the way to the horizon, with lakes, winding paths and enormous windmills jumping out at you.

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

There is a bench perfectly placed on the hill to sit down and enjoy your surroundings. Me and Eoghan sat there in the sun and I have to say, it was absolute bliss! The sun shining down warming any exposed skin, blue cloudless sky, and looking down on the valley with trees as far as the eyes could see.

Just further up the path, there is a viewing platform which gives you a proper panoramic view of the landscape. See for yourself:

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

From here back to the park, you’re on a wide path/road used to access the windmills. Loads of the trails join up here along this path and you will pass by some windmills which are right alongside the path.

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes – a lot longer if you stop to take pictures every 5 minutes like we did!
Distance: 5.5 km
Difficulty: Moderate

What does moderate difficulty mean? By moderate, it has some inclines with rougher underfoot conditions. There may be some roots and natural features on or near the paths.

3. Connemara View Loop Trail – 1 hour 10 minutes (Orange)

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The Connemara loop trail is an uphill trail over 4.5 Km. The path starts and finishes at car park 2 and takes you up to a viewing platform near one of the turbines. And yes you’ve guessed it,  you will take in beautiful views across Connemara including Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. Once you’ve satisfied your appetite for scenery, you can continue the loop back to the car park.

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Distance: 5 Km
Difficulty: Moderate

4. The Turbine Trail –  1 hour 20 minutes (Black)

The turbine trail is a loop that brings you up close and personal to 5 wind turbines and a viewing platform at turbine 15. You’ll have views of Uggol Valley before merging with the green path back to the car park.

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Distance: 5 Km
Difficulty: Moderate

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

5. Seecon Lough Path – 2 hours 20 minutes (Green)

This loop is quite a bit longer and takes approximately 2 hours 20 minutes over 10 km. This path passes through old forest paths, with a downhill walk by a lake. It also passes a viewpoint which – on a good day – you may see all the way to the Aaron islands in the distance.

Time: 2 hour 20 minutes
Distance: 10 Km
Difficulty: Moderate

6. The Forest Cycleway – 4 hours 30 minutes (Blue)

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The Forest Cycleway is by far the longest trail on the Galway Wind Way stretching across 21 km. It takes around 4 and a half hours on foot and is the only path for cycling. It’s a much wider path and takes you around the opposite side of the woods than the other 5 trails.

This section has patches of Eucalyptus trees, planted there in the 1950s as an experiment.

Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Distance: 21 Km
Difficulty: Moderate

Other things to note about the trails at Galway Wind Way

  • There are free car parks
  • Dogs are allowed – on leads
  • Bikes allowed on certain paths
  • No toilets
  • No Quad/Horses/Smoking

Is the Galway Wind Way a Family Friendly Activity in Galway, Oughterard?

Simple answer, yes! This is a great family activity in the Oughterard area. There is a pushchair trail for bringing younger children and it is also wheelchair accessible.

Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as you are responsible for them, meaning they can come along and be part of the family fun. I had great enjoyment watching a tiny little girl on the red trail trying to walk her ginormous dog and would not walk with her parents unless she had one hand on her dog at all times, it was the cutest thing!

On our way back to the car park on the purple trail, there was a group of children grouped around the foot of a windmill and were so happy and excited to get up so close and have their picture taken in front of it.

There were also groups of families cycling around. It was so nice to see kids out enjoying the outdoors.

For other family-friendly activities in Galway,  I will have a post coming up soon.

 

More about Galway Wind Park

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The park itself is made up of 4 wind farms and does better than any other wind farm in the country. It’s 58 windmills that generate enough power for over 140,000 homes across the county.

Each year, Galway Wind Park creates enough green energy to offset 220,000 tonnes of C02 – which is so great to hear, especially in the middle of this Climate Crisis.

The Park is co-owned by SSE Renewables & Greencoat Renewables and was developed by SSE Renewables and Coillte.

Who are SSE Renewables?

They are a leading renewable operator and developer across Ireland and the UK. Their aim is to transition to a zero-carbon future and have around 25 wind farms across Ireland.

The company owns SSE Airtricity – the second largest energy provider in Ireland.

Who is Coillte?

Coillte is a commercial forestry company. They currently manage about 7% of the countries land. They contribute to Ireland’s renewable energy production by completing wind farms.

Why Place the Galway Wind Park in Oughterard?

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

The west of Ireland lies along and is completely exposed to the Atlantic ocean. The weather and strong winds are one of the main reasons behind the name wild Atlantic way and as you can imagine, has made the west an ideal place for wind farms. In fact, in 2019, Ireland took the spot for having the windiest place in Europe after a study done on the average wind speed and days where the wind went above 4 bft.

The topography and wind of this area in Oughterard made it the perfect location. It also has close connections to the national electricity transmission grid. This area allowed the avoidance of sensitive habitats and cultural heritage sits. The site was carefully planned based on the general direction of the wind while avoiding wind turbulence.

How to Dress for a day at Galway Wind Way

I feel I could just copy and paste the same weather warnings for all attractions in Ireland at this stage! The west of Ireland can be very wet and windy. Although the woods you are more sheltered, once out of the cover of the trees, you are high up and exposed to the elements.

Always make sure to have:

  • A waterproof and windproof jacket
  • A hat to cover your ears
  • Walking shoes

However, on a good summers day, it is absolutely amazing.

Benefits of wind farms

wind farm benefit

A lot of people oppose wind farms, which has always been a mystery to me. There are so many amazing benefits including:

  • Providing Green Energy – It is a clean fuel source without polluting the air
  • Sustainable energy – as long as the sun shines, there will always be wind to generate electricity
  • A Cost-effective way of producing energy
  • These projects create jobs – During the build of the Galway Wind Park, numerous local business were employed as part of the project, from plant hire to steel companies.

Reasons Why people oppose wind farms

galway wind way, ireland, oughterard, galway, windmill, family walk

There are a few reasons people tend to dislike the thoughts of wind farms nearby. However, personally I do not agree with most of them. The main reasons are:

  • Visual Pollution: People think they are an eye sore and ruin the landscape. I don’t agree with this one at all. I think they actually add to the landscape. While sitting on a bench overlooking Galway Wind Park, there were lovely views of the forest. However, I think the enormous windmills stand impressively across the landscape and really ad a “wow-factor”, for me anyway.
  • Noise Pollution: I guess everyone has their own opinion on this. For me, I love the sound the windmills make. I find the faint hum very calming and peaceful. While walking around Galway Wind Way, you get up very close to the windmills, but the sound is always a faint hum it is never loud by any means. Once you are a short distance away, you can’t hear the sounds at all.
  • Habitat destruction and impact on wildlife: This would be the main one I would have concern over as well. The building of these parks does mean the habitat is effected however, while planning these sites environmental assessments are carried out to access potential impacts. Permission is only granted once the assessments conclude that no significant effects will occur.
  • Researchers also believe that these wind turbines pose no more threat that other man-made structures and possibly a lot less threat. Phone and signal towers are much more harmful and yet people tend to be happy when a new signal tower goes up in an area. It seems better signal distracts from any harmful impact on wildlife.

Overall, it would seem to me that the benefits outweigh the challenges of wind farms. As an added bonus, these parks also create recreational parks such as Galway Wind Way. This allows the public to go out and enjoy nature, which they may not have done otherwise.

 

Final Thoughts

I really really enjoyed visiting Galway Wind Way. We were lucky to have the sun shining and blue skies. It was great to be out in the fresh air with the sounds of birds in the trees and the faint hum of windmills in the air. A great day out I highly recommend.

tinyboots gif

Social Distancing

This is great for a Social Distancing day out: In this current state of worry, uncertainty and fear, being stuck indoors can really add to anxieties. Although we have to stay pretty cooped up, it can really negatively effect your mental health. While I do not recommend leaving your home for unnecessary reasons, getting out and walking in nature I would say is pretty much a need right now (if within your 5km limit).

Instead of flocking to busy places like salt hill prom and other busy places, I would suggest places like the Galway Wind Way as they are a lot quieter and spread out. On arriving, the busy car parks worried us. However thankfully there were so many trails to choose from, we were able to pick a quiet one and only passed a couple of people on our walk. Everyone stayed distant and it was great to see everyone following social distancing recommendations.

Stay safe everyone.

Tinyboots 

 

Resources for more information on Galway Wind Park & Galway Wind Way:

https://ireland.sse.com/what-we-do/our-projects-and-assets/renewable/galway-wind-park/

Galway Wind Park

More things to do in Galway:

Menlo Castle
Rosscahill Woods
Cong
Brigits Garden 

Pin this post for later:

pin image

Valentia Island

Valentia Island is a small unspoiled island off the South West coast of Kerry, connected to the vibrant Portmagee on the mainland by a bridge. The Island has a small population of under 700 with only one main village – Knightstown. For a small Island you won’t be short of things to do though. There are so many great Valentia Island attractions, from stunning walks to unique fossil discoveries.

Pin It