In Sligo, you will find a whole host of beautiful spots to discover when you want to head out for some fresh air. From coastal to woodland and rivers to mountains, these are some of our favourite (and most scenic!) places for family walks in Sligo.
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Sligo offers a stunning setting for nature activities, and the landscape is definitely worthy of capturing in some candid family photos. Pack a picnic, wear some layers to keep everyone warm, and head off on an adventure!
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Family Walks in Sligo
Mullaghmore offers both headland and beach walks. The headland coastal walk can take about an hour and has 360 degree views of ocean, mountains, wildlife and Lord Moutbatten’s Castle. The rock formations, cliff ledges and waves crashing over the reefs are truly remarkable.
The beach is equally stunning .. a very flat, safe and family oriented beach it stretches approximately 1.5 miles across the bay. Both are ideal for a leisurely stroll, marathon run or simply photo opportunities.
Union Wood was formerly part of the Cooper Estate and is now managed by Coillte. It is a haven for wildlife, including fallow deer, red squirrel, buzzards, swans, pine marten, and more.
There are two marked woodland trails to choose from here:
- The easy Oakwood trail (4km) which takes in views of the Ox mountain range, Knocknarea, Ballygawley Lake and the surrounding Sligo and Leitrim countryside.
- The more strenuous Union Rock trail (5.5km), which includes an ascent that provides fantastic views.
Hazelwood National Forest
Hazelwood Demesne is found just 5km from Sligo Town, at Half Moon Bay along the shores of Lough Gill. With spectacular lakeside views and plenty of space for a picnic, this is a popular family walk in Sligo.
A number of wooden sculptures from Irish and international artists can be found along the track, forming a ‘Sculpture Tour’ through the forest.
This 3km loop trail is along the southern shore of Lough Gill and offers excellent views of the lake and surrounding countryside. It forms part of the Sligo Way which passes through this forest.
This is a great place for a nature scavenger hunt – you’ll find numerous species of trees, including Norway spruce, Scots pine, beech and oak, as well as a rich variety of flora and fauna. It is a bio-diversity site and forms part of the Lough Gill Natural Heritage Area (NHA)
The Deer Park Loop is a nice forest trail which provides access to an internationally renowned court tomb. The route is easy enough for families and you’ll enjoy fantastic views over Lough Gill and the surrounding countryside along the way.
Dooney Rock Forest
This area around Lough Gill inspired the poet W.B. Yeats to write the The “Fiddler of Dooney”, and it’s not hard to see why this area was chosen for its beauty.
There are spectacular views over Lough Gill, Cottage and Church Islands and the area is rich in flora and fauna. The latter part of the trail includes a steep climb, although it is possible to take an alternative route to avoid this.
Gleniff Horseshoe Millsite
The Gleniff Horseshoe Millsite is one of our favourites with a lovely small nature trail and picnic areas too.
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Located six miles from Sligo town, Knocknarea Mountain (452m) offers a good walk of about 45-60 minutes. From the top are views of Donegal, the Ox mountains, Sligo Bay and Mayo.
Knocknarea has a mound of stones at the top, reputedly the tomb of Connaught’s legendary Queen, Maeve. Queen Maeve’s Grave is located at the summit of Knocknarea mountain, which dominates the landscape to the west of Sligo.
Maeve was the warrior Queen of Connacht in Celtic mythology. The cairn measures some 180 feet across and over 30 feet high, making it the largest such tomb in Ireland outside the Boyne Valley. Its shape and structure (and the results of archaeology in the area) have led to the tomb being classified as a Neolithic passage tomb. It is estimated that the stones used in the construction would weigh approximately 40,000 metric tons.
The Sligo Way
For families with older children who are up for a bit of a challenge, the Sligo Way is a 74km, long-distance walking trail. It is divided into 7 sections, each representing a half day’s walking. The trail starts at Lough Talt and ends in Dromahair.
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