National Walking Day takes place next Sunday 27th September, when we are encouraged to take to the Great Outdoors to enjoy some of the walks on our doorstep here in Sligo.
As public events cannot be organised this year regarding clustering concerns over Covid-19, people are advised to make plans to avoid some of the most popular walks at peak times. That said, for most of the walks in Sligo, we can avail of spectacular scenery and relatively quieter walks by comparison with other parts of the country.
So we asked some members of the Sligo Walks team to pick some of the best walks locally, and here are some of our favourites. We hope that you get to visit at least one of these walks on Sunday or throughout the weekend, and if you have a particular favourite not mentioned here, send us a photo on social media with a description of your favourite local walk – details are on the SligoWalks.ie website.
“We’re targeting everyone interested in outdoor activities, be they novices who want to walk along the prom at Rosses Point, to more experienced walkers who feel comfortable taking on the likes of Knocknarea, through to long distance walkers who want to go along The Sligo Way through Innisfree, Slish Wood, over by Lough Lumman, all the way to Collooney and beyond,” says Michael Carty of Sligo Walks at the event launch at Strandhill recently.
Deirdre Kennedy of SligoWalks.ie adds that “Here at Killaspugbrone, it’s definitely worth considering. The new trail that’s recently been developed by the Council at Knocknashee is a fantastic new resource. And maybe some others that are a bit more off the beaten track, like Cairns Hill, Lough Talt, Dooney Rock, there’s loads to choose from. We have an abundance of walks in Sligo, so I guess it’s just a matter of people getting out and finding out what we have on offer.”
And because of ongoing investment over recent years in particular, Sligo is now home to some of the best short walks in the country, very accessible walks that suit most walking types and levels of fitness.
“We have a wonderful resource available in terms of walking infrastructure in County Sligo,” says Deirdre, who also works on community walking projects with Sligo Leader. “Coastal walks, lakeshore walks, forest walks, long distance waymarked trails, and including urban walks as well, so we have loads for everybody to choose from, and for every ability.”
New trails are also being planned and built currently, so walkers can also look forward to enjoying these in the months ahead. Here’s Michael Carty again. “In terms of new trails and developments, there’s an exciting trail currently under development at Raghly, it’s still under construction, and is not currently open to the public. But when it’s concluded, it will no doubt be a spectacular walk. From there you can see right across Sligo Bay to where another walks recently been developed at Aughris Head, so there you have two walks along headlands which take in quite dramatic views.”
Sligo Sports and Recreation Partnership have always been at the fulcrum of encouraging people to get out and walk, and according to Deirdre Lavin, the pandemic shouldn’t discourage people from staying active. “People must take precautions and be sensible about where they walk, and not walking in groups. But it’s so important both for our mental as well as our physical health, that we all remain active. Walking is free, doesn’t need much in terms of planning or even walking gear. Now that Autumn is upon us, with the evenings drawing in, getting out during those daylight hours will help sustain us all throughout the Winter months ahead.”
We hope you get out this National Walking Day and enjoy some of the walks we have on offer in the county. But whether you like the walks we mention here, or have your own personal favourite you plan to do, as Michael Carty says, the most important thing is to get out and stretch the legs with friends or family this weekend.
“We would encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the walks, whether they be Strandhill or Enniscrone, or upland walks like Knocknarea, or around Ben Bulben, and to participate in and enjoy National Walking Day on Sunday.”
For details on over 50 walks in Sligo, visit SligoWalks.ie.