Whilst on a road trip through the Wild Atlantic Way we decided to stop off at Clifden for a few days and take the plunge and go hiking the 6.8km trail of Diamond Hill through Connemara National Park and embrace County Galway’s vast mountain scenes, The Diamond Hills stunning summit offering 360 degree views, is an isolated peak overlooking the village of Letterfrack, and the Twelve Bens.
Table of contents
- Getting There
- The Tracks
- Diamond Hill Facts
- Hike Diamond Hill The Start
- The First Climb
- The First Vantage Point
- Hitting The Red Route
- Narrowing Tracks
- Getting Steep
- Hike The Diamond Hill Summit
- Descending Diamond Hill
- The Finish
- Other Local Attractions
- Where To Stay
- More Wild Atlantic Way
Located only 15 minutes from the town of Clifden and set in the vilage of Letterrack.
Take the N59 (Westport Road) towards Letterfrack. Before entering the village of Letterfrack you will see a sign for the National Park on the right hand side of the road. Turn right here and follow the road to the car park
Follow the N59 (Leenane Road) towards Leenane, remain on the N59 to Letterfrack. 200 metres after the village you will find the main entrance for the National Park on your left hand side. Follow the road to the car park.
Travel along the N59 to Clifden and then follow the directions above for travel from Clifden to Letterfrack (Distance Approx 93 kms).
The Diamond Hill Hike has 4 tracks green, red, blue and yellow with only the red reaching the summit.
The green track is a simple easy 0.5km nature trail, great for families and has a attached kids play area.
Is a 1.5 km walking track looping at the foot at the hill. Easy conditions well pathed and enjoyable for all.
The blue track is 3km track with a few climbs, but these climbs are well patbed easily accessed and generally suitable for most people.
The Red track is the most difficult and is the one taking you to the summit. In parts some small climbs are necessary and the tracks can be hard to see but this is only for a short period. All in all a level of fitness is need for this track but it certainly wouldn’t be too difficult.
Note: the tracks link up together meaning that the full length if completing the red track comes to 6.8 km.
Diamond Hill Facts
Elevation: 442 metres
Mountain Range: Twelve Bens
Entry to the Diamond Hill and Connemara National Park is free of charge and ample parking is provided.
Please respect the national park and always bring away what you take in.
Hike Diamond Hill The Start
Starting at the car park and information centre heading up the hill on the exposed gravel track away from the buildings.
As you can see below these tracks at the start are great and very well maintained.
The First Climb
The first part of hike of Diamond Hill is fairly easy bringing you through bog land, with very minimal imcline. (Leading you into a false sense of security for later)
It’s at this point you really start to feel the rugged and wild and vast nature of this land .
After about half a kilometer you start the first little climb up the south side. This part of the climb is fairly easy the use of stones are in place to climb to easily assist.
The First Vantage Point
At the top of the climb is where the views and the sights of this stunning landscape start to show. It really is a moment to stand back and take it all in.
Top Tip: we took to the hill around 9 am and were the only ones there compares to coming down around 11 and it being far busier.
From the first vantage point you head up a few more bends and steps a couple of more breathtaking views, again at the point things are well payhed maintained and accessible for anyone with any general fitness.
Hitting The Red Route
After getting up through the first few climbs you come to the break off point where you can continue round on the easier yellow and blue routes or march on to the summit and the red route.
We chose the red route for the summit. As you can see you can see above the route is a loop over the top of the hill.
Top tip: on our climb wind speeds were nearly up at 35 kms the front of the hill climb is exposed to the sea breeze from the Atlantic. Check winds before you leave.
It’s at this point tracks start to narrow and inclines get a bit harder. Still very manageable though and certainly easy enough
The next point brings you to a ledge for some great views of the Connemara National Park.
The video below shows walking up to the edge you can hear the wind battering us. What you can’t tell from the video is how difficult getting to the ledge. The wind at this point we found at its hardest .
We had been fairly impressed by how manageable the hike so far had been. But now things were getting steeper, narrower and with the wind causing off balance certainly more challenging.
We then started to encounter a few climbs and extremely steep parts, climbing a few rock faces and again trying to succeed these with the wind on our back was a bit challenging.
A look around for another view of this beautiful landscape and it was time to hit the summit.
Hike The Diamond Hill Summit
The final hike to the summit wasn’t to bad, again other than the wind. It was well maintained and warily accessed
Descending Diamond Hill
And then comes the descent. Firstly this is far easier as the wind is now blocked by the Hill and a chance to catch your breath.
After a few steep steps the view out the back of the mountain is truly amazing. Luckily the weather did play its part along the way.
Once you turn a little corner your view shines out towards Polladirk Valley, such a vast and striking landscape. With the stream of water running through the mountains and only the sounds of water running this is a great place to stop and reflect.
The walk does starts to get much easier from here on in. The include is still fairly steep, however the well pathed tracks make it a whole lot easier.
At the bottom there is cafe and toilets, with benches and a area to rest and refuel. Also located here is a tourist information centre.
Other Local Attractions
Located just 5 minutes away is the stunning mahor House Kylemore Abbey.
The Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens were Originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift.
Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history.
Open to the public Kylemore Abbey offer a Gothic Church, the spectacular Victorian Walled Gardens, a working Craft Shop, Restaurant and Tea Rooms not forgetting the Lake and Woodland walks.
Take the Sky Road from Clifden to Letterfrack see stunning views across the Wild Atlantic Way and western coastline.
The Clifden castme ruins is also located on this road take the walk down to this 19th building and see this once Castle and Manor House.
Where To Stay
The Station House Hotel in Clifden is the perfect choice.
The once Galway Clifden railway which was built on 1895 and closed in 1935 the buildings where used by Millars Connemara tweed Mills until the early 90’s and then laid derelict until 1998 when businessman Johen Sweeney bought the site and redeveloped it using all the original buildings. Like the old stationmasters house which is now the hotel restaurant “Signal Restaurant”.
Such facilities sr the hotel include
- Signal restaurant
- Renew Health and Beauty
- Pool and jacuzzi
- Lounge Bar
- Conference rooms
See Station House Hotel website HERE
More Wild Atlantic Way
This isn’t the only part of the Wild Atlantic Way we have done we have also, had a road trip to the picturesque village of Doolin and the legendary Cliffs of Moher. See our Road Trip. Further to the North West corner we experienced the historical town of Killala also steeped in history.