Have you tried the new route to Knocknarea?
I don’t think it’s officially opened until next week, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from checking it out over the Easter weekend. We took a last minute decision to climb this afternoon after a morning spent by the beach and dining al fresco. I certainly wasn’t dressed appropriately for the ascent but my friend brought me some runners… so I had no excuse.
If you’re planning a trip soon, here are some things you might want to know.
Where to start
The new route starts opposite Sligo Rugby Club. You can park there. I think public toilets are something that need to be addressed, so if you need to use the bathroom, make sure you do so before you make the trip. I know there aren’t any toilet facilities at the original path and it hasn’t been an issue in the past, but Knocknarea is getting a lot busier now, given the new route and more demands will have to be met.
How long does it take?
Be warned: it’s longer than you expect! It may take you 15-20 minutes longer than the original route. We didn’t time ourselves, but we’re guessing it took us 45minutes to get to the top. Given the weekend that was in it, it was busy – there were hundreds of people climbing at the same time so it was a slow moving, single file in parts. It reminded me of the Warrior’s Run a little bit! It takes about a half hour on the way down. So give yourself enough time.
Is it difficult?
It’s more challenging than you think. It’s pretty steep in parts. I always think running up hills is easier than walking – I prefer to get the hard parts over and done with – so we tried this but got really out of breath! We were feeling fairly unfit at the beginning, but really delighted with the workout by the end of it. The new path is gravel to begin with and then narrow (2 foot wide) timber steps (over 500!) to the top.
What to bring
I recommend bringing water for along the way. We weren’t prepared at all. Ideally, bring a picnic to enjoy at the top or a chocolate bar for an energy boost. Wear layers so you can remove when you get hot along the way, but you’ll need a jumper for the top as the temperature drops. I was wearing all black, so was roasted in the sun!
The views are spectacular so it’s worth every step. There are various view points along the way, so you can take a break and take it all in. Much of the path zig zags through a forest, so that’s another change from the original route. It wouldn’t be ideal for someone who’s afraid of heights or for very young children.
It was a really beautiful, productive day. Strandhill village was buzzing with activity. It was heartwarming to see so many families enjoying a hike together and everyone exchanging friendly smiles and chat. Young and old attempted the climb and each chose their desired distance and pace. This is a fantastic facility for Sligo tourism and for encouraging us all to get out and get more active.
For those not from Sligo, Knocknarea is known for its huge flat topped cairn, believed to be the resting place of the legendary Queen Maeve of Connacht. The tomb has been classified as a Neolithic passage tomb and is one of the largest in Ireland.
My phone was dead, so here’s an old snap from the top.
I hope you’ve had a lovely Easter break spent with your nearest and dearest. For us, it was so nice to have everyone home, but bitter sweet as it can get lonely when they leave again. Mac eile ag imeacht.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the climb!