New Year’s Eve Walking in Sligo

Tommy McGibney enjoys New Year’s Eve walks on Crockauns and Knocknarea in Sligo.


Finding myself at something of a loose end on New Year’s Eve, I drove to Sligo hoping to get some good walking done, after a quiet and largely inactive Christmas.

The Yeats County boasts a good mix of upland and lowland walking routes and, although the morning skies were cloudy and somewhat leaden, I reckoned that if the weather held reasonably well at all, I should have a pleasant day outdoors.

I first made for Crockauns (463m) a craggy hill overlooking the exceptionally scenic Glencar valley.  I had no difficulty finding its access road (signposted ‘Kilsellagh’) off the N16 on the Sligo town side of Glencar and proceeded up a narrow road which winds around a series of low but very scenic hills.

The route I had planned promised a short but very steep climb alongside a fence to an upland plateau and on towards the summit. I easily found a parking spot opposite an agricultural gate near my starting point and from there it was  straight uphill, along the fence.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

The early stages of the walk were fine but the going got progressively steeper as I climbed, so much so that I left my walking poles by the fence as they were by then a hindrance on the steep slope.

Some amazing views began to open up as I ascended.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

My progress was slow enough and I took particular care going up, as to put it mildly, this wouldn’t be an ideal spot to slip or tumble. As I neared the top of the fence, the view downwards put into sharp focus the steepness of my ascent.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

Once past the fence, I found a old and broken wall that guided me towards the mountain summit.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

The summit soon came into view although I had to dodge a number of very wet spots in order to reach it.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

The wind was howling and clouds circling when I reached the summit cairn and savoured extensive 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains, Sligo Bay and the Atlantic.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

My descent was thankfully uneventful and although I had to take care on the steeper sections along the fence, I found it a lot more enjoyable than the ascent.

As I picked up my walking poles, the skies suddenly brightened and bathed the hill in lovely winter light, and the valley was positively gleaming as I returned to my car.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

With the sun shining I decided to make for Knocknarea (372m) the landmark mountain overlooking Strandhill upon which stands a huge cairn, reputed to be the burial place of Queen Maeve.

This is a very popular walking destination for Sligo folk, with a decent path, car parking, and even a hut selling tea, coffee and crepes. The easy and gradual half-hour walk uphill was a big contrast to the deserted steep slopes of Crockauns.

The beautiful afternoon made for some sublime views on the way up.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

The cairn at the summit is a remarkable construction and thankfully appears to be in very good condition.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

It made an ideal location to enjoy the last sunset of 2018.

Crockauns & Knocknarea 31 December 2018

Here’s to many more of them.

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