It’s time to dust off the rain jacket, don the waterproof trousers and dig out the hiking boots. The weather has taken a turn and Autumn is upon us. Still, this time of year can provide us with some of the most spectacular views of our landscape and there is no reason not to head out and enjoy those Autumnal colours.
With the recent stormy weather it is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before heading out, and also to look at the Coillte website and to follow their social media channels. If there’s any evidence of trees falling or if work is going on in any of the forests you should avoid these areas.
The best known woodland walks in Sligo are probably Ben Bulben Forest Walk, Union Wood, Hazelwood and the middle section of Knocknarea, so for this week we’ll leave those alone as we’ve described these walks on a number of occasions in the past.
So here are 3 lesser known forest walks that you could take in over the coming weeks in Sligo. If you want to join in with other walkers, there are several walking groups that head out weekly, a list of these clubs is available on the Sligo Walks website www.SligoWalks.ie where you’ll also find their contact details. If you head out alone at any time of year, but in particular at this time of the year when the days are shortening and the weather can change suddenly, make sure you’ve told someone where you are going and what time you expect to return, have your mobile phone fully charged and bring a small backpack which might contain an extra layer, a snack and a bottle of water.
Conveniently located just minutes from Sligo town, Deerpark is a short looped walk that takes in spectacular scenic views and also contains some interesting features, not least of which of course is the court tomb that sits along the route.
Heading out past the hospital, take the right hand turn for Dromohair at the IT Sligo traffic lights. After a couple of hundred metres, take the left hand turn for Calry and drive out this road for approximately 5km until you see a sign for Deerpark to the right. Off road parking is available.
The route is approximately 3.5km in length and is clearly marked. It rises fairly steeply at first before it levels out as you reach the court tomb, which dates back some 5,000 years. You’ll enjoy lake and forest views as you continue along the track before you end up back at the car park.
Another short walk that can be extended if you take in nearby Slish Wood, Dooney Rock is located along the Sligo – Ballintogher Road. Heading out towards the Carraroe Roundabout overlooking the dual carriageway on the Dublin side of Sligo, take the turn towards Ballisodare, and immediately turn left towards Ballintogher. Drive along this road past the turn for the Holy Well, and soon you’ll find yourself driving along the shores of Lough Gill to your left. Just a couple of kilometres along this road you’ll see the sign for Dooney Rock just off the road, where you can park.
Yeats gave Dooney Rock plenty of publicity when he wrote his poem ‘The Fiddler of Dooney’, and it is a lovely walk, accessible to anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. At just 1.2km it’s one of the shortest walks listed on the Sligo Walks website, but does provide you with great views of Lough Gill. There is a relatively steep section which leads to the hilltop.
A forest trail located on the Ballina road past Ballisodare. Head out towards the west of the county along the N59. Once you are 6km or so past Ballisodare village, turn left where you see a sign for Coolaney. Just 400m down this road take the first left for Glen Wood where you’ll arrive at the car park.
This walk is linear and takes in lovely views of both the nearby Ox Mountains and, as you ascend a gentle enough slope, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across Ballisodare Bay towards Knocknarea and Ben Bulben. The walk is just 1.5km in length, and double back the way you came to return to the car park.
For details on all types of walks in Sligo, including coastal, rural, town, forest and upland trails, visit www.SligoWalks.ie.