As we head into the time of year where the beaches get quieter and where you’re more likely to have much more space to enjoy the fresh air, we’ve chosen some of our favourite beaches in Sligo to take in this Autumn, and some reasons to get out and about while there’s still some light in the evenings.
If you have a favourite beach walk in Sligo that isn’t included in our list, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our social media channels.
A beautiful beach, especially for walkers, Culleenamore is located near Strandhill, and can be accessed either from the main beach at Strandhill or by using the small car park that overlooks the beach. Unsuitable for swimming, the tide fills and retreats quickly. At low tide, the tide is so far out that it is barely visible, and at high tide it can come all the way up to the edge of Strandhill Golf Course. So it pays to be attentive and to check tide times before you head out. It’s also popular for training horses, especially early in the morning, so if you have a dog, make sure you keep it on a lead if horses are about (or other walkers, for that matter.)
What we love most about Culleenamore is that – while Strandhill gets busy, even in the off-season, Culleenamore remains something of a secret beach, and is a wonderful place to bring small children for a paddle and a picnic. Its horseshoe shape and sheltered location mean that if you visit when there’s no wind, you can pick up sounds from right across the beach. So if you’re out when the horses are cantering, you can hear the hooves dance off the sand from a long distance away.
Directions: From Strandhill, take the R292 heading in the opposite direction from from Sligo Town, and as you exit the village Knocknarea Mountain will be to your left. As you enter open countryside, approximately 0.5km from the edge of the village, take the first turn to the right. Continue along this narrow lane, then park considerately and the beach is in front of you.
An amazing beach, popular with swimmers, surfers, walkers and Armada enthusiasts. As many local people know, Streedagh is home to three sunken ships of the ill-fated Spanish Armada of 1588, which sank here during Winter storms and led to a huge loss of life. Nowadays, the wrecks of the ships remain hidden under tonnes of sand, but every September the locals commemorate the events with special events on the beach – well worth attending if you can.
Otherwise, Streedagh is just a stunning place to walk at any time of year. It’s a very popular swim spot, and is widely used by surfers when the waves are up. It’s also the famed location of some of the scenes filmed for the TV series ‘Normal People’. This 3km stretch of beach is popular all year round and, with Ben Bulben rising in the distance, it is one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Directions: Taking the N15 from Sligo towards Donegal, when you reach the village of Grange, turn left just after Supervalu. After approximately 0.3km take the first right turn, this brings you past the Armada monument and over a cattle grid, bringing you to the back of the beach dunes where you can park – beware of high tides!
A quieter beach located towards the west of the county, and accessed by country roads from the nearby Sligo-Ballina road. The beach links with Aughris Beach, and from there to the famous Beach Bar and on to Aughris Pier and the beautiful coastal walk along the cliffs. So it’s really a place to prepare to want to stay and do as much as possible during your visit.
The beach itself is unspoiled and while it’s a good swim and surf beach – the likelihood here is that you’ll have the place to yourself at most times of the year. Try the seafood at the Beach Bar, stay the night at the campsite alongside, and try pier jumping at Aughris, as well as the 4km looped walk – all told a really lovely day out.
Directions: Taking the N59 from Sligo to Ballina, cross the bridge in Ballisodare and turn right. Continue along this road through the townlands of Beltra and Dromard. Just after passing the Catholic Church in Skreen, you’ll see a signpost to the right for Dunmoran. Continue along this road until you reach the coast. Note that there are a number of other possible routes to the beach, but this is the most direct.
One of the most popular beaches for swimming and sailing in Sligo, it’s also a lovely beach to walk. There are actually three beaches in total, the first is a short beach which is popular with swimmers. The second, and main beach, is to the right of the parking area, approximately a kilometre of unspoiled beach which is very popular with walkers. The third beach – located at the end of the second beach – can only be accessed at low tide. And that beach is so quiet that even in the height of Summer, when the other beaches are full, you’re almost guaranteed that the third beach will be deserted.
For swimmers, you should note that in particular when you swim the first beach, take extra care not to get caught in currents beside the pier near Sligo Yacht Club. Open water swimming is very popular here, even more so since the recent addition of buoys at intervals, commonly used as markers by swimmers. But remember to never swim alone and to use a flotation device like a tow float, as these buoys are located some distance from shore.
Directions: In Sligo, cross the main bridge on the dual carriageway heading towards Donegal. Immediately after the bridge, take the left turn for Rosses Point. Once you enter the village, turn left at the T-junction at the entrance to the golf club. The beach is located at the end of the road, along with ample car parking.
A favourite with young families – many of us have brought our kids here for a picnic on those long Summer days. But it is also very enjoyable for a walk at any time of year. Parking away from the beach means that you can also take in a lovely pathway along the shoreline, which brings you as far as the beach itself. The waters here are shallow, and this means that when the tide is out you can walk a good distance along the shoreline past the great old house where Countess Markievicz was born and where WB Yeats came to stay.
Directions: Heading north from Sligo towards Donegal, just after the Yeats Tavern in Drumcliffe, turn left for Carney. At the end of Carney Village, the road weaves to the left, and follow this. After 2km, you’ll reach the entrance to the beach, via one of the estate entrances and beside a gate lodge. Park near the gate lodge to extend your walk, which brings you along the road, before a path becomes visible on the seaward side, and this brings you to the main beach itself.