Overview & Getting there
The Maamturks range is one of the main ranges in Connemara, and lies on the opposite side of the Lough Inagh valley from the Twelve Bens.
The Maamochoige-Knocknahillion-Letterbreckaun walk is one of the nicer walks in Connemara, coming in narrowly behind the the Glencloghan Horseshoe in the Twelve Bens in terms of giving a good overview of the Connemara mountains. The walk itself gives the hiker a nice feel for the Maamturks, without traversing the whole range.
To get there, take the N59 Galway-Clifden road. Pass through Moycullen, Oughterard & Maamcross. About 6-7 km after Maamcross, take the Letterfrack road (R344) up through the Inagh valley. Lough Inagh and the Twelve Bens should be on your left as you drive up the valley. About half way up the shoreline of Lough Inagh, take the minor road (signposted Maimeáin) that leads off to the right. There is a number of parking places to the side of that road. Park somewhere near 868 524. In total, from Galway, the drive should take little more than an hour.
Cross the bog and head for the saddle between Lough Maumahoige and Knocknahillion. Follow the stream that comes down from the south flank of Knocknahillion up to the grassy saddle. As you ascend, to your right, bare cliffs rise sharply up the flanks of Bin idir an dhá Log, the highest of the Maamturks (702m). On the saddle, over a small rise, is the Corrie Lake, Lough Maumahoige, which is well worth a look as it is one of the few of its kind in Connemara. The walk, however, curves up to the left, along a broken quartzite ridge to the summit of Knocknahillion (607m). From there, you should have (depending on the often inclement Connemara weather) good views down toward Lough Inagh and two of the Twelve Bens, Derryclare (677m) and Ben Corr (711m) to the W.
The tall round top of Letterbreckaun (677m) stands out noticeably to the NW of Knocknahillion. From Knocknahillion, descend the ridge to the N, and follow the curve around toward the NW to the top of Letterbreckaun, passing two small lakes on your left. There is a clear line of stone cairns indicating the route, which is part of the larger Maamturks Walk. On a clear day from Letterbreckaun, there are good views of the Twelve Bens to the W, Ben Gorm (700m) to the N, and Killary fjord and Mweelrea (814m), to the NW.
From Letterbreckaun, descend back the way you came to the first Col, and from there, descend the valley down to the SW. Follow the stream down to the Western Way, and from there, follow the trail SE to the road, and from there, to your car.
The walk should take about 4-5 hours and is a great opportunity to get a nice flavour of Connemara in general and the Maamturks in particular. Another nice hike in the ‘Turks is the Failmore horseshoe, but I haven’t got around to compiling a page on that yet.
There are a number of campsites, B&Bs etc in the general area. There's an An Oige Hostel (Ban lettery Hostel) down the road toward the twelve bens, which is cheap and cheerful, and can serve as a base for the Twelve and the Turks.
Maps & BooksMap
OS Map Discovery Series #37, Galway-Mayo
Best Irish Walks, (3rd ed.) by Joss Lynam, published by Gill & Macmillan, gives a fine description of 75 different routes in Ireland including this one, and I am indebted to the information in the book for guiding me on many a day.
As evidenced by the photographs, taken over the space of three hours, the weather in Connemara is ever-changing, with four seasons often experienced in one hour, let alone one day. No matter how good the day looks from the road, always ensure to bring a fleece and good waterproof gear, as it is often quite cold and wet. A map and compass are essential too as mist and fog can often sweep in from the Atlantic, reducing visibility to a minimum.
Though the 'Turks are are rather a small range of mountains, people have been known to have serious accidents up there, so use your cop-on when heading up.