Aughris – a truly scenic Sligo Walk

The coastal walk at Aughris Head in Sligo (photo David Tuffy)

Aughris Head, a scenic headland in west Sligo, is located approximately 6km off the N59 road between Sligo and Ballina.

A Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point has been erected here to highlight the significance and beauty of the area. Ample parking is provided for all group sizes at the newly refurbished The Beach Bar, an Irish Thatched Pub and Restaurant, which retains a timeless and traditional quality.

After parking you walk back up the road you just travelled a short distance, and turn right for the pier. If conditions are favourable you are sure to see a number of surfers in the water, as this is a very popular spot for those surf enthusiasts. At the top of the slipway you keep left and continue to follow the well-maintained trail as you amble towards the sea capturing the splendid views of Benbulben with Benwiskin just behind it.

Aughris is home to the highest sea cliffs in all of Co. Sligo, reaching an impressive height of 30m above sea level. This vantage point affords the walker an unrivalled aspect as they look out across the unspoiled Sligo Bay.

You may be also fortunate enough to distinguish Raghly Point, provided the day is clear.  As you make your way along to the Cliff-edge fort, you can hear the Atlantic waves crashing against the rocks below.

A recess at this fort is a real necessity to experience the captivating views encompassing a full 360 degrees. This stop can be a wonderful place to pause and gather your thoughts as you listen to the birds and the water.

This is truly a walk that is an immensely satisfying sensory experience. Knocknarea stands, in all its glory, to the east while behind you are the less appreciated, however nonetheless impressive, Ox Mountains.  On your return journey you will have the striking views of the aforementioned mountains in front of you.  From here you continue along the path as it leads you towards the Holy Well crossing over three stiles as you traverse working farmland.

According to local tradition this well is dedicated to St. Patrick and always seems to have a colourful array of fresh flowers blooming there. Adjacent to the well is a lively flowing natural spring, which has been fenced off in an effort to protect it and encourage its longevity.

As you turn back to begin your return, it is well worth the time to survey the spectacular rock formation along the cliff edges. This 4.5k walk is one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the county.

When you arrive back at the car park you can treat yourself to delicious, wholesome food at the pub. However, if you feel like continuing you can ramble eastwards to Dunmoran Strand. This will take you along the coast and over a wooden bridge to the strand where you can step it out to yet another car park at the far end before making your return. This is a stunning secluded beach surrounded by sandy dunes that add to the beauty of the environment. The sand can be soft underfoot but otherwise delightful to walk in as you breathe in the fresh sea breeze. A 2k walk in the direction you came will return you to your car. This hidden gem of a walk is well worth a visit any day.

This article was compiled by David Tuffy on behalf of Enniscrone Walking Group, a member of South & West Sligo Tourism Network.

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