Day 1 Arrive at our first hotel in Grange-over-Sands, where lunch is available, if required (at own expense). In the afternoon we drive to the medieval village of Cartmel with its imposing 12th-Century Priory church and on the way back take a short walk along the bay promenade. A tea reception and orientation meeting is followed by our Welcome Dinner. (D)
Day 2 Walk through delightful limestone woodland and up grassy slopes to the top of Hampsfell escarpment to enjoy the spectacular views across Morecambe Bay and towards the Lakeland mountains. In the afternoon, follow country byways through the gentle Cartmel valley and Bigland Estate to our next inn at Newby Bridge. (B, L, D) 9 Miles
Day 3 This walk includes a delightful variety of countryside, with ever-changing views. Woodland, green fields and a moorland ridge bring us to our lunch point in the peaceful Rusland valley. Then an enchanting walk across heather-clad Bethecar Moor, until Coniston Water opens up below. Drive in our minibus to reach the next inn by the shore of Coniston Water, where two nights are spent. (B, L, D) 10 Miles
Day 4 We enjoy a short cruise across Coniston Water to Brantwood, home of the poet, artitst, and social reformer John Ruskin. Then choose between a walk up the Coppermines Valley to absorb the spectacular scenery (and a fascinating insight into an industry which supported the local economy for over 300 years) or sightseeing in Hawkshead and Sawrey, where Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm is situated. (B, L, D) 4 Miles/Optional
Day 5 Leave Coniston for a ramble over lush green rises to Tarn Hows, a jewel-like lake built by a Victorian landowner to enhance the view. Walk up the Tilberthwaite Valley, with an optional diversion to Holme Fell to admire the incomparable views in all directions. The next three nights' accomodation will be in either a traditional Lakeland Inn in Little Langdale, or a delightful country guest house, superbly encircled by nearby Lakeland hills. (B, L, D) 8 Miles
Day 6 We motor along England’s steepest road across spectacular Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, stopping to tour a 2nd-century Roman fort. Continue to the tiny village of Boot, and visit Eskdale Corn Mill, where packed lunches may be eaten, or a visit to a nearby pub in case of bad weather. There is time to enjoy the atmosphere of the wonderful Lakeland village of Boot, before rejoining the minibus for the drive to the Irish Sea coast at Ravenglass, and a walk through rolling pastures, past the ruins of a Roman Bath House, for a visit to medieval Muncaster Castle and its world-famous Owl Centre.(B, L, D) 2 1/2 Miles
Day 7 Walk by Elterwater and follow in Wordsworth’s footsteps along Loughrigg Terrace for a superb view of Grasmere lake and vale, the inspiration for many of his great poems. We arrive at the village of Rydal, which Wordsworth made his home for the final 37 years of his life. After lunch in a traditional “tearoom” we visit Rydal Mount, the poet’s home and its gardens, which were lovingly landscaped by the poet during his time there. In the afternoon we walk along the valley side to Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Wordsworth’s home during his nine most productive years as a poet, and visit the cottage and nearby museum (a visit to Grasmere village can be arranged instead of this final walk). (B, L, D)
Day 8 Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Today you should make plans to leave the Lake District and transfer to Ireland to begin the next week of your two week tour. The transfer will take the best part of one day, depending on your mode of transport. You will most likely take a combination of trains, a ferry and perhaps a bus. If you need help with this portion of your tour, please contact one our or travel advisors and we will be happy to assist you. You will make your way to the hotel in Galway for overnight. (B)
Day 9 Upon the rendezvous time in Galway, the City of the Tribes, you will be given an introductory walk through the city with a stop in Bridget's gardens. Lunch is on your own, and you'll be given the chance to get to know one another better at the welcome dinner at the Lough Inagh Lodge.
Day 10 Windswept ragged mountains, a rocky coastline and some archeological sites make the old famine walk truly a pleasurable experience. Set out from a small hourbour along this ancient road and we visit Tom, a local farmer cutting turf and his dogs working the sheep.
Day 11 We start the day with a visit to Kylemore Abbey, where we have to time to visit the walled gardens created in the middle of the Bog. Visit the beautifully restored mausoleium and of course the abbey itself, home to the Benedictine nuns since 1920. From there we walk to Letterfrack National Park where we climb Diamond Hill to view the vista of the Connemara coast.
Day 12 We leave our hotel and head to Westport (voted best place in live in Ireland in 2017) a town on the edge of an Atlantic inlet. En route we will be walking part of the Western Way, a long distance walk along the flat river plains and our walks are in direct contract to the imposing Ben Gorm Mountain to the northwest and the Devil's Mother to the south. The scne would not be amiss in one of Robert Service's poems of the Yukon where he once wrote, "The icy mountains hemmed you in with the silence you scarce could hear". The trail skirts Tawnyard Lough. A number of small islands can be seen on the east end of the lake. The westernmost of these is possibly a Crannog--Crannogs were secure dwelling places that can be dated to the Bronze Age (Circa 1500BC). They were artificial islands reached by boat or by subsurface stepping stones.
Day 13 Westport gets its name in Irish Gaelic from a 16th Century castle - Cathair na Mart - meaning "The Stone Fort of the Beeves"--owned by the powerful sea-faring O'Malley family, who controlled the Clew Bay area. This castle forms the foundations of Westport House, and a portion of it is still visable in the Dungeons area there. The most famous of the O'Malleys was Granuaile, chieftain of the clan and 16th-century pirate queen of Connacht, and ancestor of the Brownes fo Westport Hosue.
We have time this morning to walk through Westport town and House and visit the local Thursday Market. We then take a bus to walk along the Green Way, a wonderful route that travels from the foot of Croagh Patrick to Achill. We finish our walk in Newport and enjoy what is considered Harry Clark's Masterpiece, "The Last Judgement in 1931", his final piece of work beore his untimely death at the age of 42.
Day 14 From Westport we head to Roundstone, a sleepy fishing village where we walk up Errish beg, a short low lying mountain where the famous Lakes of Connemara can be viewed. We end this walk at what locals consider two of the finest beaches in Ireland. Gurteen Beach and Dog's Bay lie back to back forming a tombolo jutting out into the Atlatic Ocean.
The beaches were formed by a sand spit and tombolo which now separates the two bays and their eaches. The area has international importance for tis rare and interesting ecological, geological and archeological features. The sand and grassland habitats are of particualr interest as the sand was not formed fro rocks, but rather from the shells of tiny sea creatures knowsn as foraminifera. The grasslands, made up of manchair vegetation is considered rare and is found only on the west coat of Ireland and Scotland.
Day 15 We will take the ferry to the Inish More, one of the largest of the three. The Aran Islanders still speak Irish/Gaelic as their first language. With over 1,500 miles of stone walls, Dun Aengus, a mysterious ring fort perched on the edge of cliffs that drop 300 feet to the ocean and ancient monastic ruins. There is much to see here. Late in the afternoon we will return to the hotel via ferry where we will enjoy a final dinner together.
Day 16. After breakfast you will be transferred back to Galway with a final stop at the airport in Shannon. Please do not make arrangements for an early morning flight departure if you plan on returning with the group to either Galway or Shannon.
(Ramblers reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary when deemed necessary or appropriate).