Community Member Feature: The Connemara Mountain Walking Festival 2022

This year the Connemara Mountain Walking Festival is a community member of Leave No Trace Ireland, and we are delighted to have them onboard.

The festival is taking place from the 30th April – 1st May in the picturesque village of Leenane, situated on the edge of Killary Harbour and surrounded by mountains in all directions.

Walking festivals are amazing ways for people to get outdoors – especially if you are new to hillwalking. Events like the Connemara Mountain Walking Festival are safe ways to have new experiences and practice or learn new skills. This festival has professional guides and strong connections to the local mountain rescue team, which connects to multiple Leave No Trace Principles.

When going outdoors, we always want to Plan Ahead and Prepare. This can mean so many things;

  1. Checking the weather, so that we’re dressed right for the day out
  2. Knowing where we’re going, how to get there – if it’s by bus, knowing when the last bus home is – and if it’s by car, then knowing that there’s somewhere to park safely without blocking both local access and emergency services.
  3. Knowing roughly how long the outing should take, and bringing enough food and water for that time.
  4. Telling someone how long you should be gone for, and where you’re going. If they don’t hear from you, they know to alert emergency services, and can give them useful information like where you started and what you were doing.

When we Plan Ahead and Prepare properly, we all have a happier, better day out. When we don’t Plan Ahead and Prepare, we increase the chances of something going wrong, and possibly needing rescuing. When rescue teams head out, we’re increasing the human impact on the landscape drastically – be it the search parties having to spread out across the ground, or the rescue vehicles having to drive over fragile habitats. In adverse weather conditions, we’re also asking the rescue teams to put themselves at risk.

Walking Festivals provide a really great way to learn more about hillwalking, as well as ways to meet different members of the community – such as the farmers whose land you may be walking through. These are really valuable moments, as we get to learn about other peoples views and experiences of hillwalking and the outdoors. This ties into our Be Considerate of Others principle, as it’s often easier to understand someone else’s experience through open conversations.

The Connemara Mountain Walking Festival is on the May bank holiday weekend, which is often the start of summer adventures for many people. If you’re heading out, make sure to brush up on the Leave No Trace Principles (possibly through our new free online course), so that we can all have an amazing time outside, while protecting our environments.