The Gleniff Horseshoe – Benwiskin Trail

  • Trailhead: Benwiskin Centre, roadside parking, information signage
  • Length: 13.5km
  • Ascent: 200m
  • Time: 2.5hrs
  • Suggested Gear: Sturdy walking/trekking shoes, waterproofs, fluids, snacks and mobile phone
  • Longitude: 54.41330
  • Latitude: -8.39064

The Trail Map:- OSI Map Series 16

The Gleniff horseshoe is a nice 10km loop along quiet roads with spectacular views and dramatic and wild Dartry Mountains. The walk also provides dramatic views of the Donegal Bay and the Ulster County beyond.

Gleniff Horseshoe Walk

The Route
Begin at the Benwiskin Centre, turn left and continue for about 1.5km to junction. Veer left at yield sign southwards towards mountain for 1km to next junction. Continue straight following sign for Gleniff Horseshoe Valley.The 19th century Bartyes Mill Site is located on the left as you walk into the horse shoe. A lovely woodland walk has been developed at the Mill Site which takes you along under native Irish trees, babbling mountain streams and pretty waterfalls. It is a lovely spot to stop for a picnic.

The tall cliffs on the left after the road begins to turn back to the north are the Cliffs of Annacoona. As you emerge through the trees the legendary Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave becomes visible high up on the steep slopes, this is reputed to be the last hiding place of the ill fated lovers.

Please note that access to Diarmuid and Gráinne’s cave crosses private land and is dangerous even for experienced hikers. The climb is steep and the terrain can become slippery, and the descent is particularly challenging. We have received reports of people getting injured here or having to be helped by the Sligo-Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team. We do not recommend this climb.

Staying on the road, follow the loop around turning right at the T-junction after the descent to return to the Benwiskin Centre.

Did you know?
Truskmore Mountain on the east side of the road is Sligo’s tallest mountain at 647m (2113 ft).
If you look closely at the cliff face you will notice small mine entrances from where the mineral Bartyes was extracted. Bartyes is a heavy inert mineral which is used in a wide variety of industries including paints and plastics.

Directions - How to get to the Trailhead.

Travelling North from Sligo take the N15 towards Bundoran, take the first right turn 1.5km after the village of Cliffoney signposted Ballintrillick. Follow this road for 4.8Km through four minor cross roads until you reach the Gleniff Horseshoe.

12 thoughts on “The Gleniff Horseshoe – Benwiskin Trail


    Any one knows why dogs are not allowed? Does it applies to the entire trail? Dogs at all or on the lead is ok?

  2. Some might have difficulty finding the start of the Horseshoe loop. Use this eircode for the starting point F91T224. Great walk which isn’t too strenuous. Stunning views looking across Donegal Bay, Mullaghmore, Slieve League, Classiebawn and more. There’seven a little coffee cart at the start/end of the walk.

  3. Great walk with spectacular views. Park at the Gleniff Barytes Mill Site and follow the road around in a loop. Took us just under 2 hours to complete. Highly recommend, might take the bikes next time.

  4. The walk and scenery is fantastic. Directions to the horsehoe though is poor with one sign on the main road and another one which is difficult to see on the road itself so it is difficult to find the starting position. The site itself we noticed contains absolutely no welcome signs but instead a litany of- Dont do this and that, keep out and no trespassing etc—very negative and off putting. Also some of the land has been planted which destroys part of the view and should never have been allowed. Sligo is a very beautiful county but doesn’t do itself any favours with very poor marketing of its assets in comparison to Galway and Mayo.


      Those are the paw prints of the local “angry landowner”, Mr.McSherry, who owns a lot of the best access to the hilltops esp. Ben Whiskin (sadly). He is not to be messed with – DO NOT ruin your day out…20 years sice we fell foul of him, 3 days after sneaking past his little house up onto the ridge to Ben Bulben and onwards. We got cocky though and tried another “banned” route 3 days later and this guy means business (at least he did then)…

  5. This is a really nice walk. It is pretty flat and easy to do. There is no way marking but it is okay as it’s faily straightforward. The landscape is really picturesque. Would definitely do it again.


      Discovered some brilliant rock core samples left at site. Fossils millions of years old. Puts recent history into perspective.

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