The new series of the popular RTÉ walking series Tracks & Trails begins next Friday April 6th (RTÉ 1 8:30pm) and the first programme in the series will focus on some of the spectacular walks in County Sligo.
In this episode Manchán Magan writer and broadcaster who is best known for his travels books and TV series is undertaking two routes in County Sligo. Both of these are located towards the north of the county, and reflect the beautiful landscape, rugged Atlantic coastline and some of the important historical associations the area has with both Celtic mythology and the Spanish Armada.
His first trek is through the Benbulben forest trail on a loop called the Cashel Loop that will bring him alongside Benbulben Mountain.
The Benbulben forest walk is nearly 16km from Sligo town and is located just outside of the village of Grange. Known as Yeats country, this part of County Sligo is also the setting for some of Ireland’s best known folklore. The woodland here is also interesting from an ecological perspective; it is a good example of Ireland’s natural biodiversity and is home to native trees, flora and fauna.
This part of Sligo is on the Wild Atlantic Way and many of Ireland’s legends are set in this part of the country. The writer WB Yeats drew on many of these stories for his poems. On his way Manchán meets Eily Kilgannon, who is a retired local schoolteacher and knows well the myths and legends that derive from this part of County Sligo.
The Benbulben forest trail has been made easy for walkers as it is well sign posted and offers a variety of loops. The trails are robust and accessibility is easy. In terms of ancient monuments and relics, Sligo is one of Ireland’s richest counties. It is steeped in old history. Manchán meets along the way archeologist Sam Moore, who has a special interest in this area.
Emerging from the forest, Manchán has decided to complete a short second walk which starts approximately 6km from the Benbulben loop at Streedagh Beach where Manchán explores Sligo’s Armada coastline and samples some of the local wild seafood.
Streedagh beach looks like many other stretches of Irish shoreline but the history here goes back nearly 500 years, much of it, lurking beneath the waves. Manchán is meeting Eddie O’Gorman, a local historian with special interest in the history of the Spanish Armada in this area. His walk ends at Staad Abbey which has existed since the early medieval period. This may not be quite a vigorous trek as others Manchán will do, but it is certainly different and a very diverse day out.
This is the eighth series of Tracks and Trails – the series comprises 5 episodes filmed across the Island of Ireland, from Sligo, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, Killiney, Co. Dublin, Lower Bann, Coleraine and Garnish/Glengarriff in Co. Cork. The presenters this year are travel writer and broadcaster Manchán Magan, TV presenter Aoibhin Garrihy and her husband John Burke, Michelin Star Chef, Ross Lewis, Sports and fitness personality, Anna Geary and investigative journalist and RTE broadcaster Philip Boucher-Hayes.
In this series viewers can expect to explore tracks and trails, all of them way marked. They cover a diverse range of landscapes, forest, urban and coastal walks. We hope the beautiful scenery and types of walks will inspire our audience to get out, taking the time to relax and reconnect with nature. The featured walks vary in length, time and ability; the shortest loop being 3km to the longest covering some 60km. All walks are accessible and mapped out, our presenters provide ideas and advice on what to bring and how to safely prepare for your walk.
For information on any of the beautiful walks in County Sligo, visit SligoWalks.ie.