The great outdoors are even greater if you’ve somewhere nice to stay while exploring them.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the wilds of Connemara, Co. Galway, few places are nicer than Rosleague Manor, an elegant Georgian property on the shores of Ballinakill Bay, near Letterfrack.
And if you’re looking to explore the Connemara National Park, there’s no where handier – it’s just next door.
The Park takes walkers up and over Diamond Hill, offering spectacular views. “A proper path was introduced in recent years and is a fantastic amenity,” said Roslegue Manor’s owner, Mark Foyle.
“The park closed while the authorities carried gravel and rocks up the mountain by helicopter, with the result that we now have a fantastic climb that can be easily undertaken by even modest walkers, laid out entirely in gravel, stepping stones and boardwalk.”
Now in his 30s, Foyle is a third generation hotelier with hospitality in his blood. Increasingly, he finds, what attracts visitors to Rosleague is the property’s proximity to key tourist sites.
“The three big sites for visitors here are the Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey and Leenane - and Rosleague Manor is a 10 minute drive from all of them,” he said.
The launch of the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW), the world’s longest coastal touring route, has encouraged outdoor lovers to visit the property too, both from at home and abroad.
“The WAW has been a fantastic addition which has captured the imagination not just of overseas visitors but of Irish leisure travellers. We’re seeing an awful lot of couples who might previously have gone for a weekend to Copenhagen or Prague coming here instead. They have a renewed interest in exploring the area reassured by the fact that, thanks to all the signage that has gone into the WAW, they don’t run the risk of turning off down a little boreen and getting lost.”
For his own part, losing yourself down a boreen is one of the chief pleasures of this part of the world.
“Since I gave up rugby I’ve turned to cycling,” explained Foyle. “There’s nothing nicer than getting off the main road and exploring a deserted peninsula. There are any number of looped routes to take from here, from 20km to 60km, and we have bike hire facilities to suit everything from leisurely spins to mountain biking.”
The advent of the WAW has also seen an increase in the number of adventure sports operators in the area, all of which his guests are making good use of.
“We’ve seen a marked growth in interest in activities such as stand up paddle boarding and coasteering, as well as scuba diving. Guests also like to head over to Inis Bofin island to explore, which is beautifully undeveloped and great for hiking or biking,” he said.
Of course, sometimes the nicest way to experience the great outdoors is through the open window of a car – or boat. “We’re really close to Killary so one of the great things to do here is take a fjord cruise. You get a completely different perspective of the landscape that way.” And you don’t have to move a muscle.
Sandra O'Connell is an experienced journalist specialising in travel and business. She writes for both national print and digital media