As we look forward – in hope! – to an improvement in the weather, it’s probably a good time of year to consider shorter, flatter routes rather than some of the more strenuous upland trails. In this way we can avoid slippery and waterlogged terrain, make the most of the shorter daylight hours and still get in our 30 minutes of brisk outdoor daily exercise. So here are a number of shorter roadside walks for you to take to begin the month of February. Most are along gravel or tarred surfaces, and so should be fine for walking even after spells of rain. Directions and details of all of these walks can be found at SligoWalks.ie in our Walks Section.
Carney Village Walk
This was completed in the past year or so and is a flat looped trail that basically encircles the village. Parking your car at the car park at Yeats United, the path brings you away from the road, offering lovely views of Benbulben. The walk continues through a section of forestry, then skirts the GAA pitch at Oxfield after which it then meets a minor road. Here you turn left along a newly constructed footpath, which brings you back in to the village of Carney and to your starting point.
Lissadell Woodland Trail
Parking up near the entrance to Lissadell at the first gate lodge (when driving from the direction of Carney), a newly laid tarred road brings you through a lovely area of woodland. Through the trees you’ll begin to find glimpses of the sea, and you’ll soon arrive at the water’s edge. Running along the shoreline, a path brings you offroad until you reach Lissadell Beach itself. Here, you can continue your walk or go back the route you came.
Enniscrone Castle Field
Parking behind the fire station, the Castle Field walk leads you away from the main road. Following the path brings you to the Waterfront complex, where you veer left. You’ll round a small hill, on the summit of which you can see some megalithic monuments. When you reach the playing fields, either turn left or take a loop of the pitch. This will bring you back to the main road but at a different exit near the ruins of Valentine’s Church. At this point follow the footpath on your left to get back to the start. The castle itself, known locally as O’Dowd’s Castle, is visible for most of the walk and you you’ll also have some fine sea views.
Located on the Ballina road just a couple of minutes from the centre of Tubbercurry, this looped trail is a lovely woodland ramble which, like the Castle Field, is completely off-road and therefore popular with families. The terrain is almost fully flat, so is a good one for people looking to build on their fitness. Providing you with views of the Ox Mountains, the walk also skirts the Maiden River, which is a tributary of the Moy River.
Ballymote Heritage Trail
Start at the entrance to the public park as you enter Ballymote from Sligo. The park contains plenty of interesting features and buildings. To your left as you start the walk you’ll see the ruins of a medieval Franciscan Abbey, known locally as the Friary. Passing to the rear of the church, cross the footbridge, where you’ll arrive at the train station. In front stands the bust of one of Ballymote’s most famous sons, Brother Walfrid, founder of Celtic FC in Glasgow. A pedestrian underpass brings you to the wonderful Ballymote Castle, on past the Corn Mill and then to the furthest point of the walk, Emlaghfad Church, where you have to walk along a public road so do take care of traffic. Return via the same route to the start.
Coolaney River Walk
Located in the heart of the village of Coolaney, there are a number of entrances and exits, which connect you to the main road. Take the first entrance, located just after crossing the bridge coming in from the Sligo side of the village. At the entrance, follow the riverbank along a tarred road. To your left are the back gardens of the houses on the main street, to your right the Owenbeg River. When you reach the end of a timber boardwalk, you can return to the starting point either on the footpath along the main road, but we recommend you double back to get another view of the trail itself, which is really scenic, no matter what time of year.
Garavogue River Walk
Sligo’s own riverside walk starts beside the John Fallon footbridge next to the Riverside Hotel in the centre of town. Keeping the Garavogue River to your left, you’ll pass the recently constructed pontoon at the mouth of Lough Gill, and then under the arch at Doorly Park. Bearing left to keep to the lakeshore, the path, called the Back Avenue, passes the boathouse and leads to Cleveragh Park. A partial loop of the park follows, and you can start your return by taking the roadside path, which passes through a lovely playground and multi-games area and then back to the start.
Note: The Back Avenue is subject to flooding at this time of year, especially after heavy rain. If so, stick to the path beside the road.
For details on these and many other walks, visit SligoWalks.ie.