My regular visits to Castlebar are never complete without a walk around beautiful Lough Lannagh – the urban park and walking trail that is a recreational oasis in the heart of Mayo’s county town.
Located just off the old Westport Road – and beside some of Castlebar’s busiest shops – the 1.9km walking trail skirts the pretty lake that gave the park its name.
There are several entrances and exits to the park and, on this occasion, I took the entrance near the Mayo Peace Park although further along the road there is a car park and the trail will take you by the famous Lough Lannagh Holiday Village.
What I love most about the Lough Lannagh Loop is that it’s a wilderness preserved in an urban setting – and, at the same time, it has all the best features of a municipal park.
I love the way children’s playground and outdoor exercise machines for adults fit in perfectly in the wild setting of native woodland – and natural habitats of tall grass and wildflowers along the lake shore.
Recreational haven for young and old
The lake with its ducks, swans, and boat jetty is crossed by an impressive single-span pedestrian bridge that is an aesthetically pleasing design in this tranquil setting of lake, woodland and green space.
The bridge is busy throughout the day with walkers, joggers, parents with pushchairs, and children running for the playground on the other side of the lake.
From the bridge, you have a lovely view of Croagh Patrick in the distance – a reminder that Lough Lannagh is part of the Great Western Greenway that now extends all the way to the National Museum of Country Life following the opening of the Castlebar to Turlough Greenway.
The lake itself is brimming with coarse fish stocks, making Lough Lannagh popular among coarse anglers, lured by its famous tench.
The continuing development of Lough Lannagh as a place for active recreation in Mayo has received a huge boost with the announcement that the park is also to be home to a new national outdoor pursuits academy and new 25m swimming pool which will be built between Lough Lannagh Holiday Village and Castlebar Tennis Club on Lough Lannagh Road.
And the newly-opened Castlebar to Turlough Walking and Cycling Greenway, which starts in Lough Lannagh, is a 7km trail that leads to the magnificent grounds of Turlough Park.
My recent Saturday afternoon walk took me by the playground and over the hill taking in the beautiful views of the surrounding countryside before exiting on the Newport Road.
Lough Lannagh is a unique, multi-functional recreational haven for young and old in the heart of Castlebar that is a credit to Mayo County Council.