The north coast of Mayo is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets with many of its majestic cliffs, rugged headlands, rocky coves and jagged stacks apparent only to those who leave the main thoroughfares to discover them. The Dun Chaocháin area is one of great physical beauty and has retained many of its traditions and culture - the Irish language is still the vernacular. The Dun Chaochain cliffs have featured in various walking guidebooks including Lonely Planet - Benwee Head at 255m is the crowning glory. The Stags of Broadhaven (a group of four precipitous rocky islets rising to almost 100m) are located about 2km north of Benwee Head and are of ornithological importance. The key feature of this loop is the Children of Lir sculpture - one of a series from the Spirit of Place Sculpture Trail which centres on culturally-distinct, historic, unspoiled and isolated regions around the world. The legend of The Children of Lir tells the tale of children who were turned into swans and condemned to wander the countryside for 900 years, 300 of these were spent on the north Mayo Island, Inishglora. The sculpture has significance to this area from where thousands of people have emigrated in the past to all parts of the world – bringing with them a strong spirit of place – but never to return.
A-B. Starting from the car park at the Seanscoil (old school) follow the blue arrow (and green and red arrows) along Bothair an Iochtair. The green arrows are for a shorter loop walk which will leave your loop as you progress. The red arrows are for the longer Black Ditch Loop which you will leave after visiting the Children of Lir monument. Continue to follow the blue arrows downhill, onto a sandy roadway and to a junction with a tarred roadway. To your left is Binroe Point – you turn right here.
B-C. Follow the tarred roadway uphill for approximately 200m before turning left at a wire fence – note that the shorter green loop continues along the roadway here.
C-D. After leaving the roadway follow a track along fences and through gates to join the black ditch. Follow this feature (which probably marked the boundaries of lands in times past) parallel to the shoreline and then uphill onto the clifftop at Alt Breac.
D-E. Leaving Alt Breac the loop follows the clifftop via Bun a Ghleanna, An Lair Bhan, and Lag Fliuch to reach the Children of Lir monument at An Priosuin (the Prison).
E-F. From here follow the blue arrows along Bothair na Priosuin – noting that the longer Black Ditch Loop leaves on your left and continues uphill towards Benwee. After approximately 1km you turn left at a road junction and rejoin the green loop.
F-A. Enjoy the 2km back through Stonefield to the trailhead – rejoining the red loop on the way.