Starting point is Roonagh, where the ferry makes the crossing to Clare Island.
Being off season a small 13 capacity boat was on duty. This filled quickly with people, milk, post and other sundries. The boat reached capacity and we had to wait on the promise of coming back as quickly as possible to collect us. It was a great boat journey, with a backdrop of the Mayo and Galway mountains and the expanse of Clew Bay (15 euro return).
The small harbour on Clare soon arrives, with a new pier opened in 2006 providing shelter from the open ocean. Knockmore had been flaunting herself on the way over but was now playing shy and hiding behind the other significant hill on the island (Knocknaveen 223m). There was a definite sense of a way of life on the island that was in tune with nature and far from the bustle of town and city life. On our long walk along the road on the south of the island we had a rush hour of 3 vehicles in 10 minutes and not another. This road rose gently from the harbour past quiet houses and fields, giving stunning views across the Bay to the high mountains of the south.
The hills of the island maintained a lofty profile to the north but they rarely got a look in as eyes swept out to sea. Isolated shower clouds rose thousands of feet skyward dwarfing all around but thankfully they were out to sea and we had strong spring sunshine giving the feel of a summer day.
About half way along the road, a turn off uphill brings a post office and shop for resupply. It also brings an old abbey next to a more modern chapel which is worth a slight diversion. Sheep and lambs were the only movement on land, with plenty of birdsong in the air and plumes of spray rising from the coast a short distance away.
The road rises and passes over a cattle grid and meets the lower slopes of Knockmore. It turns into a track and ends at a quarry, but we had already crossed the stream and made for the remains of an old Signal Tower. Great spot for lunch after a long road walk, before tackling the green slopes of Knockmore. Views now open to the north bringing Achill Head, Croaghaun, Slievemore and Minawn to add to that still visible to the south. The collapsed upper walls of the Signal Tower lay like a out of water coral reef as we laid in the sun relaxing.
Make for a couple of rocky bluffs to the north before slogging up the slopes to the summit of Knockmore. A fence hugged the steep cliff face for a while. The summit has an eroded area of peat hags before reaching the mightily impressive beehive cairn which must be around 10 feet tall. Not the top though, as the trig pillar is a little further on. The trig is less impressive but does have increased views of the entire round of Clew Bay and the mountains which ring it. The Mexican standoff had to the south the Bens, Mweelrea, Ben Gorm, Sheefreys, Maumtraunsa, Croagh Patrick and to the north the giants of Achill, Corraun and the Nephin Begs. Stunning!
A steep descent along a fenceline protecting from steep cliffs gave views over the northern headland and white lighthouse. Aim for Creggan Lough across old turf cuttings and picking up a track which brings the road. A short distance to the north the waymarked loop walk heads over the shoulder of Knocknaveen on a grassy track. This then drops back down to the harbour.
We got the last ferry off the island at 6pm, which may not have stuck as strictly to capacity limits! Looking back past the wash of the ferry the impressive outline of Knockmore dominated the skyline and brought a quiet smile.