As I watched 34 Lapwings in the air at once, thoughts turned to moving on and beginning my (mostly) beach walk from Annagh Marsh to Cross Abbey, along the western shore of The Mullet peninsula.
I had spent over an hour enjoying these beautiful birds, along with Mute Swans, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and more. Lapwings are a wonderful bird to observe, their contrasting black, dark green and white plumage making them easy to identify even at distance. But it’s their wonderfully evocative call while in flight that makes them so appealing.
Annagh Marsh is a Birdwatch Ireland reserve, where Lapwing and other waders breed in limited numbers and is located between Termoncarragh Lake and the wonderful Annagh Head jutting out into the Atlantic, beyond. The latter, by the way, is the location of one of Mayo’s nine Look Out Posts.
I take a sandy laneway heading south from Annagh and arrive at my first little south-facing beach. A camper van has plonked itself above the sand, from where its occupants, on waking, must enjoy a wonderful morning view.
Pushing on, the next beach is the long and splendid west-facing Emlagh. Behind its dunes lies the famous Carne golf course, one of Ireland’s finest links. From here, I climb above the rocky shore to walk the machair for some 500m, before once again descending to my final beach at Belderra. This easily accessed beach is always popular in good weather and today is no different. Parents, children and young adult kayakers share the sand and the water.
My last 1.5km to Cross Abbey are on a very minor road, but along the way I stop to check out the old cemetery of Béal Dorcha, where sheep are seeking refuge from the warm sun behind tombstones and enclosure walls.
Cross is a very small medieval ruin, once a ‘dependency’ of Ballintubber Abbey. It looks across the water to Inishglora beyond, resting place of the Children of Lir and site of an earlier monastic community attributed to St Brendan the Navigator. It is believed that the community moved from ‘Glora to the mainland in the 10th century. Cross was dissolved around 1584.
On the rocks below, I observe 64 Whimbrel, before jumping on the bike to cycle back to the beginning where I have left my car.
Annagh Marsh to Cross Abbey, a beach ramble beyond Belmullet
This short, easy-level walk is around 6km and takes 2.5 hours at a casual pace with plenty stops.