To really experience Ireland – you need to feel it – feel its land, its rain, its temperate climate and most of all – its soul. This is a country that cannot be rushed and exploring it on foot is one of the best ways to experience it. This allows you the opportunity to meet the locals, come face to face with thousands of years of history and see what it is that makes Irish people so unique.
I have partnered with guide extraordinaire, Rachel Nolan of Rachel’s Irish Adventures, to put together an Ottsworld tour that would bring Country Mayo’s landscapes, hiking, local culture, and unique touches together in an incredible customized tour.
Overview and Map
Dates: April 20 – 27, 2024
Cost: €2,780* (€450 single supplement)
This is a small group tour – only 7 people + me! The space will fill up fast so sign up quickly.
*All prices will be charged in the Euro – some USD price fluctuations could occur by the time of your final payment – however you can pay in full at any time and lock in the price.
This is not your run of the mill Ireland tour. This is an exclusive customized Ottsworld tour in the company of me as your host, accompanied by our professional local Irish guide – Rachel. Our small group of 7 people will get to visit some of Ireland’s best kept secrets, hike on remote trails, stay in boutique lodging, meet locals, experience unique Irish culture, and enjoy the lush green of the Ireland landscape in the spring.
I will also offer photography instruction for those of you who are interested in improving your photography (phone or camera). In addition, I will be taking photographs of the entire tour and each guest will get a download of all images I take. So if you don’t want to take pictures – I’ll do it for you!
The trip will explore all of the beauty of County Mayo’s stretch of coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way and it’s islands. What’s that – you haven’t heard of County Mayo? That’s exactly why I chose it! It’s a hidden gem away from the heavily traveled sites in Ireland.
While most people head to the Ring of Kerry or the Cliffs of Moher, we’ll have the beautiful coastline of County Mayo all to ourselves.
How to Book This Tour
I’d like to talk to you first to answer any of your questions prior to you booking. Therefore follow these steps to book:
- Send me an email at [email protected] letting me know about your interest. We will set up a call to discuss any questions you have. This will be on a first come first serve basis – there are only 7 spots available on this tour.
- I will send you a payment link to Rachel’s site where you can book your deposit and secure your spot for this custom tour. 500€ non refundable deposit is required to secure spot.
- Final payment is due January 21, 2024 (90 Days prior to April 20, 2024)
Cancellation Policy and Fee
- If you cancel more than 90 days before the starting date of the holiday, you will lose the deposit amount.
- If you cancel between 89 – 42 days before starting date of the holiday, you will lose 50% of holiday cost
- If you cancel less than 42 days before the starting date of the holiday, you will lose 100% of the holiday cost
I highly recommend that you get travel insurance to cover any risks of cancellation. I normally use Allianz Travel Insurance for my own travels and it is very reasonably priced.
The itinerary is one-of-a-kind and is packed with included experiences such as multiple ‘spa’ experiences, visits to sheep farms, entrance to ancient sites, lamb cuddling, cooking experience, falconry, whiskey tasting, and the chance to meet a lot of locals. In addition, we have included plenty of hikes, walks, and even some cycling!
Note: The trip starts in Ballina and ends in Westport. You will be reponsible for your own transportation to the start and from the finish, however there is a regular train and buses that are easy to take from Dublin with multiple departures times during any given day.
Day 1 – April 20 – Arrival in Ballina Ireland
Your holiday kicks off in the charming town of Ballina in County Mayo where your guide will meet you on arrival and transfer you to the hotel. Settle into your room and take in the magnificent view over the River Moy and Belleek Woods, visit a museum, and enjoy a river walk.
Enjoy an afternoon baking experience in Marjorie’s kitchen, hosted by Rachel’s mother in her kitchen. Marjorie is the author of 4 cookery books and loves nothing more than to share her passion in the kitchen, followed by savoring the fruits of your labor over a hot cuppa tea.
We will enjoy a welcome dinner for the group to get to know one another. After diner if you have any energy left, we will hit the town and visit Pat Rouse’s bar, Ballina’s oldest family-owned pub where a traditional Irish music session and singsong will go on late into the night. You may even get the chance to pull your own pint of Guinness.
Day 1 Meals Included: Dinner
Day 2: Sligo Coast – Following the traces of the Ancient Queen Maeve of Connacht
After a refreshing sleep and a delicious breakfast. It’s off to hit the trails of Mayo and get our boots dirty for the first time. Today we will hike the wonderful Knocknarea hill and add a stone to the thousands adorning the imposing grave or cairn of Maeve, the great warrior queen, which overlooks Strandhill.
Distance: 7.5km | Elevation gain 404m | 2-3 hours
It’s time to enjoy an organic, fair-trade coffee at the outstanding Shells Café which overlooks the strand, enjoying one of their scrumptious homemade treats. With time to relax and explore this quaint location.
Visit Aughris Head Beach bar – a traditional thatch roof pub and enjoy a warming Irish coffee.
Enjoy a totally unique local experience and unwind with a seaweed bath in Enniscrone. Seaweed baths are actually a centuries-old practice in Ireland. Dating back to the 12th century, monks harvested the seaweed from the coastlines and gave it to the poor as a nourishing food. We’ll enjoy a soak at the 100+ year old Kilcullen’s Bath House perched right on the coast where they harvest their seaweed.
Enjoy a hearty dinner in Ballina and traditional Irish music at Lilly’s Bar.
Day 2 Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3: Traditional Irish Trades & Treats
Start the morning meeting and handling birds of prey. The Birds of Prey Experience is a unique opportunity to meet and handle a variety of Birds at the Mount Falcon Aviary. Get a fascinating insight into the lives of these magnificent creatures and get the chance to hold and admire them close up; it’s a very visceral and satisfying experience!
Tour the Foxford Woollen Mills and learn the history of the mill as well as how important it is to the nearby village. Have a chance to purchase any wool mementos. Enjoy lunch at the Woolen Mills Cafe.
Head back to Ballina and get fitted for bikes at Rachel’s bike shed. We’ll cycle to the Monasteries of the Moy, explore the Belleek woods, and Rosserk Abbey. There will be lots of occasions to stop off and take pictures and learn about the history and traditions of the region…like the Fairy Trail!
For anyone who doesn’t want to cycle today, another option is to chill out and enjoy a relaxing treatment in an award-winning spa (at your own cost).
This evening you have a real treat before dinner. A whiskey appreciation masterclass, your whisky expert will take you through a selection of Irish Whiskey and educate you on this world-famous spirit and its origins. Taste the different whiskeys and ask any questions you may have. Following the masterclass, we’ll have dinner at Quay West.
Day 3 Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4: North Mayo coast (The Ceide Coast)
Depart Ballina with a scenic drive to the coast where we will take an easy walking route along the coast to a hidden beach. We’ll also make a stop at the iconic Downpatrick Head where your guide will bring this place to life with facts and folklore about time gone by.
Now it time to reward you for your morning’s adventure with some delicious lunch and home baked treats at Mary’s Cottage Kitchen. The perfect place to stop for some tasty home cooking situated in the coastal village of Ballycastle. Mary’s Cottage Kitchen was built in the early 1800’s and maintains many traditional features such as the stone wall exterior, open loft, exposed beams, flag floors and a good open fire.
Next, it’s time to visit the beautifully Ceide Fields which is the oldest, most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, which lies beneath our feet! Consisting of megalithic tombs, fields and houses, the relics are softly covered by a natural blanket bog, which itself is a wonder with its unique flora and fauna. Prepare to be blown away at the viewing platform at the edge of the 110-metre cliff close by.
Tonight we stay at the luxury Ceide Glamping Pods. Each of the 6 Glamping Pods comes with a stunning coastal view. And the best part is that we will have the entire area to ourselves. We’ll enjoy dinner in the common area while we enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the coast.
Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Off the Beaten Path
After a refreshing sleep and a delicious breakfast. It’s off to hit one of the most stunning trails in County Mayo. This region of the Wild Atlantic Way has some of the most dramatic coastline to be found anywhere in Ireland. The hike we will enjoy today was described in Lonely planet as “The finest sustained coastal walk in western Ireland, with a profusion of precipitous cliffs, crags, caves, chasms and islands along the remote North Mayo coast”.
Distance: 7km | Elevation gain: 300m | 2-3 hours
After the challenging hike reward yourself with a traditional warm whiskey and lunch at Connoly’s Pub and enjoy meeting some locals at this tiny, remote establishment.
Drive to Ballycroy National Park. Located on the Western seaboard in northwest Mayo, the park covers a vast 15,000 hectares of uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness, dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range. To the west of the mountains is the Owenduff Bog, one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Western Europe. If time permits we’ll do a short walk there.
Drive to Achill Island, the largest of the Irish isles yet it only has 2500 inhabitants. Here we’ll stay at the secluded Bervie B&B. The magical beachside house was once a coast guard station, and since 1932 has been the ultimate escape for the many guests who have stayed here. It’s a low, tucked-in kind of place with a little wicket gate giving direct access to the beach. There is an other-worldliness about the Bervie that is very rare these days.
After all of that hiking – enjoy some hot & cold Atlantic therapy! Warm up in the cute beachside saunas and then cool off with a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean…and repeat. Dinner at Bervie B&B.
Day 6: Achill Island & Clew Bay
After enjoying the best breakfast on Achill Island, we’ll drive to Keem beach which is honored as one of the best beaches in the world. From there we’ll hike up to Ireland’s highest sea cliffs (it’s steep – but short)!
Next we’ll visit the Deserted Village at Slievemore which consists of some 80 – 100 stone cottages located along a mile long stretch of road on the southern slopes of Slievemore mountain. Settlement in this area dates from at least early Mediaval times and we’ll get to walk through the village on an easy road walk.
After lunch on the island we’ll drive towards the village of Westport. We can have a ‘choose your own adventure’ afternoon with multiple stops to choose from depending on interest, weather, time, etc)
Stay in the popular town of Westport tonight where we will enjoy dinner, live music, and iconic pubs.
Day 7: Killary Fjord & South Mayo
Morning drive along Clew Bay and stop at the iconic Croagh Patrick to enjoy views of the infamous peak that thousands pilgrimage to the top of.
Lunch outdoors if weather permits. For the animal lovers, we get to visist an iconic Ireland sheep farm. The Killary Sheep Farm in Connemara is a traditional working mountain farm with approx 200 ewes and lambs roaming freely in the mountain overlooking Killary Fjord, on the Wild Atlantic Way. Here we’ll get to see a sheep dog demonstration, learn about the farm, and even get to cuddle some spring lambs!
We’ll head back to Westport where you’ll get time to do some final souvenier shopping and enjoy more of the colorful town. We’ll have our goodbye dinner (how did it go so fast?!) in Westport that evening where we can share our favorite Ireland memories and revel in our new friendships.
Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8: April 27 – Departure Day
After breakfast you can catch the train back to Dublin, or maybe you’ll decide to stick around and enjoy more of Ireland’s west coast!
Train to Dublin (direct):
- 07:15 – 10:27
- 09:45 – 13:04
- 13:10 – 16:29
- 18:20 – 21:36
(Times might be slightly different in 2024)
Bus to Galway:
(Approx. 2 hours)
- 7 nights stay in an en-suite room at our premium hand-picked accommodations.
- Delicious Full Irish breakfast each morning, and 3 Dinners.
- 7 days activities with an expert Irish guide who will accompany the group for the duration of the holiday
- All experiences as outlined in the itinerary; Whiskey Tasting, Foxford woollen mills, Baking class, Seaweed bath, Ceide fields, Sheep dog demonstration, Sauna Achill Island, Bike rental.
- Courtesy transfers to and from each day’s walking locations and all transport as outlined in the itinerary.
- Basic photography instruction during the trip.
- Access to a full gallery of photos (shot by me!) of the entire trip, you can use for personal purposes.
What’s Not Included:
- Flights to/from Ireland
- Transportation to Ballina and departure from Westport
- Travel Insurance
- Some dinners and lunches
- Personal drinks
- Medical costs
Our Awesome Local Guide
When you have the right guide, it can ‘make’ an entire trip! Rachel is the ultimate outdoor guide. She’s an incredible athlete and such a wonderful advocate of her home region in County Mayo. One of my favorite things about staying in Ballina is that it is the town she grew up in (and still lives there) and with that comes incredible local connections. In fact, we will have special cooking class from her mother. It doesn’t get much more local than that! Plus, Rachel ensures that we know everyone in town introducing us to the bartenders when we go into a pub, restaurant owners, and even the local guy who smokes fish.
What makes this tour ‘Ottsworld’? This is not your average tour…it’s an Ottsworld tour. I must confess – that I am sort of a travel snob. I don’t like to do the ‘expected’ or see the typical sights; I like to seek out the unusual, and less traveled. I’ve worked together very closely with Rachel to put together a tour that impresses even me! It has all of my favorite elements in it: hiking, local travel, booze, hands-on local experiences, and photography. Yes – all of this in only 8 days! Here what past guests had to say below.
“Definitely a 10! I really enjoyed the fact that the tour was a “white glove delivery” experience- everything was so meticulously planned so we didn’t have to worry about transportation, meals, what we’re doing for the day, or if we’re trying to too much or not enough. I went back to reread the description of the tour (published in May) after we returned home and couldn’t believe that we hit EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. AS. PLANNED
“It was just right for me, a bit challenging but that’s what I like. The first day was the most beautiful, second the most challenging, third very interesting with the steps through the woods.”
“definitely met expectations and also exposed me to things I’m sure I would not have considered if I was planning a trip.”
“Food was AWESOME – way better than expected. Appreciated doing things I would not have done on my own”
“Thank you for your patience in helping us capture amazing memories! The only thing I knew before your class was the rule of thirds, and now I have a great foundation of knowledge to build upon- no more point and shoot! Instagram watch out!”
Who Should Consider This Tour?
- People who like to explore the lesser-known places, and be adventurous and active.
- People who are flexible. You should be willing to exhibit flexibility, as itineraries may change due to weather, and it helps if you have a ‘willing to try new things’ attitude.
- People who don’t mind getting wet or enjoying the excitement of inclement weather.
- People who feel comfortable hiking 3 to 5 miles in uneven terrain.
If you have any questions – please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I’m happy to answer anything about the trip!