My walking tours in Mayo are about enjoying the beautiful coastal, lakeshore or woodland landscapes our county has to offer. And they’re about the people we meet and share our time with – we all love great camaraderie on walking tours.
Sitting in a quiet rural pub by night, I observe members of our small group recounting stories and sharing opinions on where we’ve been today. They can be overheard admitting to one another that they had never really known much about Mayo until now. They’re having a good time.
Earlier in the evening, they had been enjoying each other’s company around the dinner table in our B&B. Telling each other where they come from, where they’ve walked previously, what they like. Getting to know each other. There’s a lovely camaraderie on walking tours, born from sharing 6 hours of hiking through wind and bog, with nobody around but us.
We had returned to the B&B around 5 pm, giving us all plenty of time to relax before dinner. People drifted off to their rooms for a shower and a lie-down, delighted with their day of walking two lovely, fairly easy cliff-top trails on our Western Ocean Walking Weekend.
With sea air in their nostrils and sea spray in their hair, they were glad to have the chance to rest their legs. It’s an integral part of a walking tour.
The day had begun with a wholesome breakfast – you know, the most important meal of the day for the walker. But we’re not talking about a 7 am rise here. No, this is a relaxing walking tour. Breakfast was at 8 and we left the house at our leisure, around 9.30.
Our first walk brought us along cliffs rising to 230 m, with great views across the North Atlantic. Even transferring from the first walk to the second was enjoyable, with good craic, interested questions and varying opinions being bandied about the minibus. As leader, when you hear opinions being shared, you know you’ve a great group. We munched on our packed lunch and sipped a cup of tea. The second walk was easier than the first, with new views and seabirds to accompany us all along. They liked the wind. They loved the waves crashing on the rocks below. They didn’t even mind the occasional rain shower. Finishing up after 4.30 pm, we happily regained our B&B.
So as we lounge in the local pub, I reflect that successful walking tours are first and foremost ones where walkers have fun and enjoy each other’s company. And, heck, if the sun shines, all the better.