IRELAND’S WILD WEST
Wildlife Holidays to County Mayo with Greentours for Flowers, especially Orchids, and Mammals and Landscapes
The thoroughly unspoilt and beautiful Maumturk Mountains and Joyce’s Country in the west of Ireland’s County Mayo are havens for some quite wonderful flora and fauna. The ruin of Moore Hall, the Georgian home of the famous Moores of Mayo, stands sentry over magical Lough Carra. One of very few limestone marl lakes in Europe, its exceedingly shallow waters have spawned calcareous fens where we can see Marsh Helleborine and other orchids in abundance. A staggering 19 out of Ireland’s 24 species of Orchid are found here including Fly Orchid, Dense-flowered Orchid and two local species of spotted orchids, Dactylorhiza okellyi and Dactylorhiza kerryensis. Yellow Birdsnest, Birdsnest Orchid and Ivy Broomrape emerge from the shadow of ruins on Carra’s wooded islets whilst St Dabeoc’s Heath blooms on nearby hills next to bogs covered in three species of Sundew and golden spikes of Bog Asphodel. Those willing to go out early or late stand a good chance of seeing Otters fishing in the lough, certainly Fallow Deer in Keel Woods, and with luck Pine Marten too.
Red Deer roam the moorlands of the wild Nephin Beg range where boglands unhindered by man’s barriers descend to Blacksod Bay and scenic Achill Island. Hardly an island physically, Achill has a unique oceanic feel, its wild seascapes some of the finest in Europe. Chough feed on the dense smooth sward of Plantain, Thrift, Sea-spurrey, Sea Pearlwort and Allseed on the headlands above Achill Head whilst the schists and gneisses of Slievemore and quartzites of Croaghaun host a quite wonderful alpine heath replete with rare mosses, liverworts and saxifrages. The Mullet Peninsula has some of the most dramatically rugged scenery in Ireland, especially in the north, with golden sandy beaches, extensive sand dune systems and machair grasslands. Red-necked Phalaropes breed by pools dotted with Water Lobelia whilst Merlin and Peregrine sweep across the wide open landscapes after Twite and Dunlin. Offshore are seabirds such as Shearwaters, Gannets and Puffins, and careful scanning should reveal some or all of Porpoise, Common Dolphin and Basking Shark.
Mayo’s combination of wild mountains, lush green valleys, tumbling upland streams and vast limestone lakes, precipitous sea cliffs and atmospheric, often empty beaches, is in terms of wild unspoilt countryside as good as it gets, and hidden within this wonderful mosaic of habitats are some of the true gems of nature.
Flowers, Landscapes and Mammals.
Relaxed and easy. Up to three or four miles on some days but less on others, and always at a slow pace, perfectly suited to photographers. Please note that on one or two days, and also some early mornings and late evenings, there will be the opportunity for more strenuous walks in search of the area’s mammals and to seek some of the most remote alpine heath flora. These will be optional!
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in Ireland. Services of your leaders. Please note: items of a personal nature including insurance, drinks and tips, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 15. Only one leader will accompany a group of 6 or less.
We’ll spend the entire week based at the excellent four-star family-run Castlecourt Hotel in Westport which is within easy reach of all the sites we’ll visit during the tour. The Castlecourt has beautifully furnished and very comfortable rooms and the restaurant has had the same French chef for the past 22 years. The bright and cheery town centre is just a short walk away and one can easily walk to the harbour. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK direct return flights are from London Gatwick or Manchester to Knock. Indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Variable! Generally mild but changeable with sunny spells and showers, and some longer outbreaks of rain, sometimes quite cool and windy.
Greener Transport Option
If you live in the UK or Eire you can join this tour using less carbon-polluting forms of transport such as train or ferry. Please call 01298 83563 or email us for details.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. Flower and bird checklists are available.