My top 5 trails in Connemara

1. Diamond hill loop

We are incredibly lucky here in Killary as we are surrounded by mountains, Diamond hill is a little bit different from them all in that it has a nice laid stone path to the top.  It is a mountain that can be run in almost any conditions, I have run it in a gale , while it is snowing and even once while the sun was up!  It give great views of Renvyle peninsula and back towards the twelve bens.  You can't get lost and you get to go up and down so it is a great run.

2. Western Way from Killary to Leenane

This is a more gentle route that goes along the bottom of the mountain behind the centre.  It is a rough track and it requires you to concentrate on your footing quite a bit which is good practise for later on when you get up the higher mountains.  I prefer it from here to Leenane as it is downhill to start with and then uphill to finish but others might like it the other direction.  There is also a couple of strava  routes on this so feel free to challenge the locals.

3. 'Stop and Pray' loop 

More of a fair weather loop, as there is not path, park at Creeagh church on the N59 near Kylemore, park beside the church pop in for a quick pray.  Then head out from the back of the church you will see a horseshoe in the hill behind.  Go up the spur on your right and come back down the one on your left, it is a lovely run back down the hill on soft bog.  You then return into the church and if you are feeling warm their is a lovely lake below the church for a quick dip.

4.  Benbrack - Mucknaught- Benbaun Horseshoe

This is for the more experienced mountain runner as it has a bit more hill climbing in it and also you go completely off trail.   You start on in the Ignagh valley, you park just past the second turn right after the Kylemore turn off.  From here you head up the spur leading to Benbaun, this is one of my favourite summer runs as you normally get a spectacular sunset over south Connemara and  are always on your own.  Their is no path so you must be confident in the mountains and happy to run for 3/4 hours in the hills.

5. Gaelforce Mountain Run route

I maybe a little biased here as I put the route together but I still maintain it is a stunning run with great terrain underfoot, as it is mostly soft bog.  The route follows fences along the ridgelines so you can run in almost any weather, and I have run in a gale with 10m visibility! The worst part of this route is that it is only open to the general public for race day every year but you can content yourself with the rest of the runs until the big day.

Shane Young