Wild Nephin National Park is a spectacular place to experience some of the most remote lands in Ireland. While the main body of the park is suitable for the more experienced hillwalkers, there are also easier walks that allow visitors of a range of abilities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife here at Wild Nephin.
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 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.
– Car park
– Picnic benches
– Open bothy
All located at beginning of the walks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have developed some tools to help you navigate your way around the night skies. As a beginner to stargazing, choose a clear night around the new moon (the darkest phase of the lunar cycle). Enjoy exploring!
Click the link below to read the stargazing check list and find out about astronomy tips.
We have created three signature Dark Sky viewing points at easily accessible locations around the Mayo Dark Sky Park. All of these sites have qualified as “Gold Tier” quality under the International Dark Sky Association criteria.
– Ballycroy Visitor Centre – Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail – Brogan Carroll Bothy
Follow the link below to read more about the Dark Sky viewing points.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lough Avoher Shelter
North of Bothy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The café at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre is called Ginger & Wild and it definitely ticks lots of boxes – whether you…
…you’ll be very well looked after.
17 December 2022
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.
13 December 2022
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…
11 December 2022
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
With its beautiful scenery and wildlife, the National Park is a mecca for photographers. Visitors are welcome to take photographs for their own use.
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.
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.
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.