Queen Maeve Trail now a looped walk on Knocknarea

Walkers enjoying the sunshine and heading for the Queen Maeve Trail on Knocknarea will have noticed that a new section of walk has been added by Coillte, who have done tremendous trail work in recent years, supported by Sligo County Council.

A new section of the Queen Maeve Trail, Knocknarea, Co. Sligo (photo Micheál Ó Domhnaill)

The new walk can be approached from both the Glen Road side (the original ascent to Queen Maeve’s cairn) or from the Strandhill side which starts at Sligo Rugby Club.

This week, I headed off with Ruby the madra from the Glen Road starting point and did the entire loop, including the summit to the cairn and back to the starting point. Including a stop or two to take photos and to enjoy the view, most people should be able to complete the loop in under 2 hours.

Starting at the car park on the Glen Road, straight away the walker has the choice of either heading up towards the cairn along the original stone path, or taking a right hand turn at the start of the path which will bring you along the new section. As the views on the way down are exceptional descending the mountain on this side, I recommend you take the new gravel path to the right, which meanders along before rising steeply as you enter woodland.

The path brings you along to Rathcarrick Wood, another familiar walk, where you bear left, heading away from the road. You follow this route for perhaps a little over a kilometre before you come to another new section of path which cuts through the trees. As you make your way along this path views of the sea and Strandhill gradually come into view across a boundary wall to your right.

Follow this path along a short upland section, which then levels out before you join the top of the steps which lead up from the opposite side of the mountain on the Strandhill side of Knocknarea. From here the walk skirts the trees, before you turn left for the viewing platform and the ascent of the mountain along the timber boardwalk.

This walk is very enjoyable, and the new section is a great addition. In terms of spectacular scenery, it doesn’t compare to the impressive views you get from the top of the mountain, but as a useful section joining up two of Sligo’s most spectacular walks, it works a treat.

The Queen Maeve Trail is already Sligo’s most popular walk, and according to Tripadvisor, it’s also the most visited tourist experience in Sligo, and the new walk is sure to help raise the numbers of visitors further. In May of last year, for example, approximately 13,000 people walked on Knocknarea in that month alone. With the good weather we had at the end of last month it will be interesting what statistics the counters which are located along the walk provide this time and for the Summer months ahead.

On another note, we’re delighted with the response to a couple of videos produced for Sligo Walks and which have been viewed on the Irish Independent website thousands of times in recent weeks. At last count, a short video of the Ben Bulben Forest Walk had been viewed over 126,000 times, and the Devil’s Chimney in excess of 185,000, the latter video in just the space of a few weeks. Let’s keep people talking and the walkers will come to Sligo. Share the videos if you can, they can be found on the Sligo Walks social media pages.

Finally, we’ve been asked to highlight an issue which arises regularly at this time of year with increased activity across many of the walks in Sligo. Keeping dogs under control – and on a lead when near livestock or other walkers – is not only a courtesy to other walkers, but an important safety step for humans and animals alike. Lambs in particular are vulnerable to overzealous pets, so keep them under control, and don’t risk the wrath of any of the local farmers.

For information on all aspects of walking in Sligo, visit SligoWalks.ie.