If you’re in Sligo and looking for a walk that will only take a couple of hours but will still give you a good workout and reward you with stunning views, then look no further than Knocknarea! The mountain is pretty distinctive and well known for the large cairn found at the summit, which is said to be the resting place of Queen Maeve, the Warrior Queen of Connaught. Legend has it that she was buried standing upright in full battle gear and with spear in hand, facing her enemies. I’m liking this lady, I though! Then I also read that she killed her sister Eithne so that she could have her way with Eithne’s husband. That’s just not cool!
Anyway, back to the walk. The mountain can be easily reached from Sligo town by car, being only about 4km from town. There is a car park (with secure bike parking too) from where you’ll start the track and it’s marked as 1.2km to the cairn at the top but you can follow some additional trails at the top if you wish. The terrain is rough enough and pretty rocky getting to the summit so it’s best to wear sturdy footwear or boots. It’s possible to reach the summit in about 45 mins – 1 hr, though if it’s a nice day factor in extra time to admire the views! From the summit there are stunning panoramic views in every direction.
The cairn itself is quite large. Apparently it’s good luck to carry a stone up the mountain to place on it but it’s bad luck to remove a stone, so I guess it will only keep growing! Classified as a neolithic passage tomb and once a sacred burial ground, there is a sign at the summit asking that you respect this and do not climb the cairn. Unfortunately, we saw a few people who clearly ignored this and were scrambling over the top as we reached the summit.
Once you’ve had your fill of the stunning scenery you can just return to the car park along the same route you took on the way up.
For more information on this walk, you can check out sligowalks.ie.
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