On a cold winters day last November we decided to head over to Sligo for the night. A small County in the West of Ireland that I always love visiting and that has so many beautiful spots to discover. One of these spots is Knocknarea- a hill looking out over the Atlantic with a large cairn on the summit- said to be the grave of Queen Maeve of Connaught. On driving into Sligo from the east you can clearly see Knocknarea in front of you in the distance and the Neolithic monument can be seen easily on a clear day.
We travelled from the Enniskillen side of Sligo and followed the A4 until we crossed back into the republic at Belcoo and Blacklion. From there we followed the N16 all the way into Sligo. On this road you pass by the amazing Glencar lough and there are a few lay by’s that you can pull over and admire the epic view. The turnoff is on this road for Glencar waterfall and the view overlooking Benbulben is one you have to pull over for.
Once we arrived into Sligo we followed the Sat Nav to Knocknrea. Our destination was clearly visible from the minute we entered Sligo and the hill was signposted once we passed through the town. There is a carpark with plenty of spaces at the side of a farm yard at the start of this trek. We had done a little bit of research before we arrived and we knew the walk up to the cairn wasn’t a terribly long one. There is a really well laid out stone track at the top of the car park. After only walking a couple of hundred meters though we came accross a mini lake in the middle of the track -we had no choice but to get our feet wet! If you are planning to do this walk in the winter months then bring boots! The path here had a steady incline so it wasn’t a tough walk. Every now and then we would stop and take in the view behind us. It was pretty spectacular. The track turned into a farm laneway, all the way up to the base of the hill. We followed the well worn path from here where the real climbing started. A good ten minutes hike brought the cairn into view. The first thing that hit us was the wind- when we got over that the views left us speechless. The view over Belbulben, Rosses point, Sligo Airport and Strand hill are amazing. There are plenty of paths up here that you can follow to get better views down over Strand hill and the Airport to the North.
The Cairn itself is the real crowning glory of this walk. Taking pride of place right at the top of the hill, you have to admire Queen Maeve for picking a pretty epic spot as her final resting place. Legend has it that Maeve was buried standing up here so she could look back over her lands in Connaught and also to keep a close eye on her enemies in Ulster. There is history all around this site on the Collrea Peninsula. The remnants of other Cairns have also been found on Carns hill, Listoghil and Knocknashee to the North of Queen Maeve’s Cairn.
This was definitely a walk that I would be interested in doing again. After our walk we checked into the Sligo City hotel and spent a great night discovering the sights and scenes of Sligo town. Our favourite pub was Foleys pub on Castle street. Definitely one to visit. I have attached a few links below to help you on your travels. As always- Happy Galavanting xx