Clare Island lies 4 miles off the west coast of Ireland at the entrance to Clew Bay. The largest of the Mayo offshore islands, it has a varied terrain: spectacular cliffs with large numbers of nesting sea birds and a rich ‘inland’ topography of hills and bogs and small pockets of woodland, making it ideal for hill-walking. The Knocknaveen loop is the longer of two loops on the island. The ferry crossing takes approximately 20 minutes and is quite regular during the summer when there is a steady tourist season. In the winter, there are usually two boats a day.
A-B. Starting from the mapboard at the pier, follow the green (and purple) arrows for 100m and veer right at the first junction. Pass the Granuaile House and after 100m reach a Y-junction at O Grady’s Guesthouse. Veer left here - following the green arrow and the signpost for ‘All Routes’.
B-C. Continue along the surfaced roadway for 1km to reach the second ‘bohereen’ on the right. The shorter Fawnglass Loop (marked with green arrows) turns right here – but you continue straight along the surfaced roadway. Continue to follow the roadway for almost 2km to reach a Y-junction where you veer right.
C-D. Follow this minor roadway as it passes the Abbey and begins to climb with Knocknaveen on your right and the imposing Knockmore coming into view on your left. After 1.5km the roadway takes a sharp right turn (there is a stony track on the left) – shortly afterwards you leave the surfaced roadway and join a ‘green’ road on your right.
D-E. For 2km the green road takes you across the Dorree River and along the northern side of Knocknaveen. At the top of a climb – the shorter Fawnglass Loop rejoins you (from your right) near a gateway. Pass through the gateway to begin the descent to the pier.
E-A. Follow the green roadway for 200m to reach another gate which takes you onto a surfaced ’bohereen’ beside the old schoolhouse. Turn right and continue the descent to Capnagower - passing the Gaelic Football pitch on the way. Turning right again, follow the road along the small beach to reach the trailhead.