Skip to main content

The trusted voice that guides you on your journey.

Wild Nephin 6 °C Rain showers
29. 1. 2023
7:09
Wild Nephin National Park logo

Wild Nephin Walking Trails


Walking Trails Distance Grade

Hill Walking


The three Letterkeen Loop trails above are waymarked and possible without a map and compass. The Bangor Trail is for very experienced hikers only. Hiking boots and correct rainwear are essential as these trails can become very wet underfoot. Any walker or camper undertaking one of the advanced trails must register in advance by clicking the button below.

The Bothy at Letterkeen

Explore the wild and remote areas from Brogan Carroll Bothy at Letterkeen Woods. The bothy is a dry and secure shelter to overnight on the long distance Bangor Trail and Western Way and acts as a trailhead for waymarked hiking loops of 2.5km, 5km, 10km and 12km.

Access to Letterkeen Loops

  • ranging from 2.5 km–12 km
  • note: No toilet facilities

The road to access the Letterkeen Loop walks is situated 1km out of Newport on the Mulranny side. The turn is marked with a series of small signposts on a single pole which include signs for the Letterkeen Loop, Bangor Trail and the Marine Institute. Continue up this road for 10km until you reach a fork in the road, take the left marked with a sign for the Letterkeen Loop.

facilities:

– Car park
– Picnic benches
– Open bothy

All located at beginning of the walks.

Hiking Safety Advice

01/

Consult maps of the area beforehand and plan in advance

02/

Hiking is only recommended for those with suitable outdoor clothing and equipment.

03/

Do not venture into the hills alone.

04/

Know your limits and those of your friends walking with you.


05/

Inform a competent person of your walking trip and estimated time of return.

06/

Take waste away with you. This is essential.

07/

Leave wild flowers for everyone to enjoy. Photograph or sketch them instead of picking them.

08/

Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times.


09/

Respect the National Park.

10/

To learn more about wild camping in the park, read our Camping Code.

11/

Be aware of ticks and their potential transmission of Lyme disease. Always check for ticks at the end of a day’s hiking.


Ticks & Biting Insects

Ireland is generally a very safe place as regards wildlife. There are no longer any large predators like bears, wolves, or large cats, but Ireland is home to smaller creatures that may prove troublesome. In Wild Nephin National Park visitors may encounter swarms of midges (small biting flies) on warm and humid days, and walkers venturing off tracks may be bitten by ticks. All walkers should be aware that ticks can, in rare cases, carry Lyme disease. Learn more about ticks and biting insects in our guide below.

ticks & biting insects guide

Art Commission


Susan Mannion

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage officially launched ‘Under Darkening Skies’ a public art commission by the visual artist Susan Mannion at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre at Wild Nephin National Park in June 2022. The artwork was commissioned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) under the Percent for Art Scheme, in collaboration with the NPWS and Mayo County Council Arts Service, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Ballycroy Visitor Centre.


The two-stage open competition which saw Susan Mannion’s proposal selected was coordinated by Mayo County Council’s Arts Service in partnership with the OPW. Susan is a visual artist based in Boyle specialising in copper enamel work, a technique that has been used since the 13th century BC.


The artwork was created from enamelled steel and is comprised of seven panels that when combined measures 7 metres in width and 4 metres in height. The steel panels were coated in base coats of black and then white enamel and fired to create a blank canvas onto which colour enamel powder was sifted. Twelve different colours of enamel were applied and then the panels were fired at 810 degrees in huge kilns. ‘Under Darkening Skies’ can be seen on the exterior wall on the Ballycroy Visitor Centre.

Mayo Dark Sky Park


Wild Nephin National Park is Ireland’s Big Sky Country and the acclaimed Irish poet WB Yeats illustrates the awesomeness of these west of Ireland skies in “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”. Yeats describes the “heavens’ embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light, the blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half-light”.
Indeed we do not lose these big skies at night as half the National Park is after dark. Learn more about exploring the skies above the National Park in our stargazing section below.

Stargazing


Wild Nephin National Park showcases some of the darkest, most pristine night skies in the world and is officially certified as the Gold Tier International Mayo Dark Sky Park. Take a look at the resources below if you’re interested in getting started or developing your stargazing knowledge.

Observatory & Planetarium


Following a successful application for funding to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in 2019, the NPWS in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and Mayo County Council have plans for the design of two new visitor experiences in the Mayo Dark Sky Park (Wild Nephin National Park).

Research and scientific and environmental assessments have been undertaken to identify suitable locations for a Planetarium and Multimedia Space and Observatory to be located in Mayo Dark Sky Park. Expert reports were commissioned on Astrotourism Suitability, Environmental Impact, Rural Tourism Development, Community Employment and Economic Impact with recommendations for the most suitable sites.
Ballycroy Visitor Centre has been identified as the site for the Planetarium and Multi Media Space, while the optimal site for the Observatory is in the Mayo Dark Sky Park at Letterkeen in Wild Nephin National Park. Find out more by following the link below.

read full announcement

Ballycroy Visitor Centre

Camping


Tent used for Camping

No accommodation services are provided within the National Park itself but visitors are welcome to camp under the following conditions. All visitors to the National Park, including hikers and walkers, are requested to register on the online registration system. Camping is only permitted through our online registration system.

This information will be vital in locating and evacuating people in the event of a fire emergency. Any information uploaded on the website will be used solely for this purpose.
Anyone camping within the park is subject to our Camping Code. Please familiarise yourself with the camping code before planning a trip to Wild Nephin National Park.

Register For Camping

Note: There is a registration system for camping at our shelters, this is not a booking facility and the shelters are on a first come first served basis. Therefore if planning to stay overnight at any of our shelters it is advisable to always bring a tent on the remote chance that the shelters are full.

Wild Camping Code

01/

Camping within the Wild Nephin National Park is only permitted through our online registration system.

02/

Camping is strictly prohibited at Wild Nephin National Park during Condition Orange/Red Fire Risk Danger Notices.

03/

Camping is permitted in designated campsites only*.

04/

Campsites must be left as found, or better. Dispose of waste properly. Please take all litter, yours and others.


05/

Latrine Protocol**; catholes for disposal of human waste should be located at least 30m away from watercourses and 50m from walking routes.

06/

Campfires (including disposable BBQs) are only permitted at fire pits in designated campsites. Use only sticks from the ground for fuel, do not cut growing vegetation.

07/

Be sure to keep your campfire small and under control. Burn all wood and coals to ash.

08/

Campfires should always be fully extinguished, including all glowing embers, on the decommissioning of the campsite.


09/

Bring your own fire retardant, in the event of an emergency at your campfire.

10/

Soap and toothpaste must be kept at least 30m away from watercourses.

11/

Dish and utensil washing will be conducted at least 30m from water bodies. All wastewater should be strained and scattered.

12/

Conduct yourself in a quiet manner, disturbing neither the local community, wildlife nor other visitors.


13/

Campsites must be kept visually unobtrusive.

14/

Bring your own first aid kit, in the event of an emergency.

15/

Failure to comply with this code will result in withdrawal of permission to camp. In such cases National Park Staff will demand that you break camp.

* For more information on sanitation in the outdoors read “Where to go in the outdoors” leaflet available from the National Park Visitor Centre and the Mountaineering Council of Ireland (MCI).



Camping Sites

There is pedestrian-only access to camping sites. These locations are not serviced campsites and there is strictly no public vehicular access. The site nearest to a public car park/vehicular access is North of Bothy in Letterkeen. You will need to walk 1.5km (20 minutes approximately) from the Letterkeen Car Park (53°59’20.8″N 9°34’21.3″W).

Grid references for the locations of designated camping sites are below.

Map with designated Camping Zones

Note: This map is not to be used for navigation purposes. Details of maps that encompass the National Park lands are available on our hiking page.

Tarsaghaun Cottage

54° 4’55.58″N
9°43’49.83″W

Altnabrocky Shelter

54° 2’59.38″N
9°36’30.84″W

Lough Avoher Shelter

54° 0’15.24″N
9°37’13.05″W

North of Bothy

53°59’57.86″N
9°34’30.42″W

Campfires are only permitted in fire pits in designated campsites. Please download and be familiar with the Wildfires Prevention Advice below. Camping is strictly prohibited at Wild Nephin National Park during Condition Orange/Red Fire Risk Danger Notices.

Weather Warnings

Weather Warning – STATUS ORANGE

This category of weather warning has the capacity to impact significantly on people in the affected areas, and poses a real risk of injury and danger to human life. The Wild Nephin National Park is closed to all visitors until further notice. Consult the National Park website for more information.

severe Weather Warning – STATUS red

This category of weather warning has the capacity to impact severely on people in the affected areas, and poses a significant risk of injury and danger to human life. The Wild Nephin National Park is closed to all visitors until further notice. Consult the National Park website for more information.

Fire Risk Conditions

Fire Risk Danger Notice – Condition Orange

There is a high fire risk within the National Park. There is a significantly increased risk of wildfire initiation and spread. In the event of a wildfire, there is a real risk of injury and danger to human life. Camping within the National Park is strictly prohibited during this notice. Consult the National Park website for more information.

Fire Risk Danger Notice – Condition Red

There is an extreme fire risk within the National Park. Under extreme fire risk conditions any ignition source in hazardous fuels will give rise to rapid and unpredictable wildfire development and spread. Under these conditions, in upland situations fire can cover extensive areas and pose extreme difficulties to suppression efforts and may give rise to major emergency scenarios. In the event of a wildfire, there is an extreme risk of injury and danger to human life. Camping within the National Park is strictly prohibited during this notice. Consult the National Park website for more information.

Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre is the main Information Point for Wild Nephin National Park. It opened in 2009 and has welcomed visitors from all over the world to Ballycroy and County Mayo.

Relax and enjoy the hospitality at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre which houses an interactive exhibition, experienced guides, Ginger & Wild Café and the accessible Tóchar Daithí Bán Nature Trail (2km).

We run Special Events throughout the year and regular Guided Walks and Kids Clubs during the Summer months. Keep an eye on our News & Events page for upcoming walks, talks and activities.

Café

The café at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre is called Ginger & Wild and it definitely ticks lots of boxes – whether you…

  • are a hungry traveller
  • just want a beautiful place to sit, relax and enjoy a cup of tea
  • are an art lover
  • are a large group looking for a tasty morsel

…you’ll be very well looked after.

Guided Walks at Letterkeen Cancelled – Dec 18

17 December 2022


Given the current icy conditions being experienced, we are unfortunately cancelling the guided walks at Letterkeen tomorrow (Sunday 18th).

Visitors and recreational users visiting Wild Nephin National Park during this weather should be aware of additional risks and hazards associated with these icy conditions and consider taking any necessary preventative action, including avoidance, to minimise the risk of injury.

#WildNephinNationalPark #WildMayo

Read More on the cancellation

Dark Skies Walk Friday December 16 – Cancelled

13 December 2022


Sorry to say we will be cancelling this Friday’s Dark Sky Walk (December 16th).

The roads to Letterkeen are just too risky at night given the continued low temperatures this week.

Thank you to everyone who has joined these walks so far. It has been a pleasure to walk in the dark with you.

More dates will be up soon…

Read More on the Dark Skies Walk

Status Orange – Low Temperature & Ice Warning

11 December 2022


The Orange Weather Warning has been extended until midnight tonight. Access to the National Park remains restricted throughout this weather warning.

An Orange Weather Warning has been issued by Met Éireann for the entire country until 12 noon Monday the 12th of December. Access to Wild Nephin National Park is restricted during Orange and Red Weather Warnings

#WildNephinNationalPark #WildMayo

Read More on the Status Orange Warning

With its beautiful scenery and wildlife, the National Park is a mecca for photographers. Visitors are welcome to take photographs for their own use.

Photography & Filming

Commercial photography and filming will require a permit. Please contact us for more details. Permits should be made at least seven working days in advance (preferably longer). Nature photographers must be aware of the sensitivity of their subjects. Animals and birds must never be stressed by a photographer approaching too closely.
Nests may only be photographed or filmed under permit and licence. Please click the link below to find out more about applying for such licences.

apply for a permit

Drones

Low-flying aircraft and objects (drone, kites, hang gliders etc.) are forbidden within the National Park because of the potential disturbance to wildlife, in particular nesting birds. Drones are only allowed in the National Park under permit, which will only be granted under special circumstances. In addition to possible wildlife disturbances, photographic drones are an invasion of the privacy of other visitors.
If you have any queries, please contact us in the National Park via email or phone.

apply for a permit

Dogs

Dogs on leads are welcome in the National Park, but only service dogs are allowed in the buildings. Dog owners must at all times be conscious of their responsibility to other visitors and wildlife. The following points will help dogs, their owners, other visitors and wildlife to have a safe and happy visit.
Our Code of Conduct for Dog Owners is detailed below.

Code of Conduct for Dog Owners

01/

We welcome responsible dog owners.

02/

Keep your dog on a lead at all times within the National Park.

03/

Be aware that the National Park is primarily for the conservation of nature. Wildlife must never be stressed by your dog.

04/

Be aware that the National Park borders farms and it is important that farm animals on neighbouring lands are not disturbed.


05/

Be aware that other visitors may have a fear of dogs.

06/

Please carry poo bags and use them. Dog poo, once bagged, must be carried home.

07/

Be aware that the National Park also has hazards for dogs. Be aware of your dog’s location at all times, as cliffs can be a real danger.