Get ready for the summer with a 5-day active break over the Easter, walking the mountains of the west of Ireland. True to spirit of our tours, we join up with a local walking club on their Easter Walking Festival to ensure you meet the locals, as well as taking you to some of the iconic sights in counties Leitrim and Sligo when you’re not walking.
We’ll spend the afternoons visiting the beautiful countryside and sites around Drumshanbo, from Ballinagleara to Arigna in Leitrim, across to the wonderous megalithic tombs on the Bricklieve Mountains and to the castles of County Sligo.
Our specific itinerary will be determined by the weather and by you, so we’ll plan around a 4-day forecast so we can enjoy the sunshine when we have it, and explore covered places when there is precipitation (a nice word for rain!). And the great thing about being with a small group is that we can be flexible. Plus at this time of year the days in Ireland are getting longer with beautiful evening light so we’ve got plenty of time to do lots when the walks are finished.
Day 1, Thursday: Arrive into Dublin Airport We will meet you and make our way down to Sligo by bus or train. It’s simple and a great way to get into the rhythm of the country. From the station we’ll take you to your B&B or hotel to settle in and get over your jet lag so you’ll be refreshed for the full week ahead.
We’ll get you to the best place to eat and, if you’re up for it, get your holiday off to a good start by showing you around some of the best music pubs in town.
(If you’re arriving in earlier & spending a few days in Dublin, just let us know if you have any questions about Dublin and we’d be pleased to help. If you travelling to Sligo independently as a result we’ll give you all the information, including bus or train timetables that you need and meet you at the station.)
Day 2, Friday: The walking festival doesn’t start until Saturday, so just because you can’t visit Ireland without visiting the evidence of our magnificent Neolithic heritage, we’ll start off on Friday with a walk along the Miners Way in the Bricklieve Mountains. The highpoint of this walk is the Neolithic tombs found in these hills, the jewels of Ireland’s ancient history. There is a tremendous sense of awe in standing in these incredible structures which are over 3,000 years old. Time-permitting, we will join our friend Sue at Sathyai Sai Donkey Sanctuary, to see the great work she does rescuing donkey’s and ponies so they can live their lives out on this beautiful mountain with views stretching up to the great cliffs of Donegal.
After lunch nearby you can decide whether you’d like to spend the afternoon with a stroll along the beach at Strandhill followed by a relaxing seaweed bath (a guaranteed pleaser), or a walk up Knocknarea Mountain (a firm favourite for families in Sligo) to catch a fantastic view of the west coast as well as visit to Queen Maedb’s Grave. What we do will be weather-dependent (as the walking festival isn’t!), so as we know the area so well, we can be flexible. Either way, we’ll finish the evening in Sligo town where there’ll be traditional Irish music in the pubs to fire you up for the walking festival over the weekend.
Day 3, Saturday: I’ll pick you up at your B&B where you’ll have had a good Irish breakfast to get you ready for the walk ahead. We’ll drive through some lovely countryside to get to the registration point in the village of Rossinver where you’ll meet up with the other walkers. There are different walks to choose from, to suit the experienced and leisurely walkers alike, but both walks take you along the edge of Lough Gill, with beautiful views of the lake and surrounding hills. We’ll finish the day back in Rossinver with a meal in the local pub.
Day 4, Sunday: The second day of the walking festival continues to explore the area to the east of Lough Gill, with its associations with WB Yeats and its remnants of old oak forests. These are some of my favourite walks in Sligo. This two-day walking festival will give you a feel for this wonderful part of the country, well off the tourist trail and really an undiscovered gem. At the end of the weekend, with friendships made and contact details exchanged, you’ll be making arrangements in your head for coming next year! After the walk and some refreshments we’ll be ready to explore the places we didn’t get to see on Friday.
Day 5, Monday: We’ll start the day with a visit to Parkes Castle where we’ll be guided through this wonderful 15th Century Castle where you learn the downside of doing a good turn (remember to ask why it’s not called O’Rourke’s Castle!). The Castle sits on the edge of the Lough Gill and we’ll take a boat onto the lake and over to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, made famous by the poet WB Yeats.
We will have lunch before exploring the town of Drumshanbo and the Arigna Mountains. We’ll then walk part of the Miners’ Way over the mountains (very accessible) and finish up taking a tour of the old mines in the village of Arigna. It’s a fascinating window into an industrial age in what is otherwise a very rural, natural part of the country.
Day 6: Tuesday: It’s the last day in the west so if you’re heading back for a flight we’ll make sure to get you on the best train or bus to get you to the airport on time. If you’ve got some time, we’ll have coffee at Kate’s Kitchen, which has the best scones in Ireland, and there’s a wonderful walking tour of Sligo town, parts of which date back to the 1400s (the town, not the walk!), plus we have an art gallery with a great collection of Jack B Yeats’ paintings as well as modern art for the more contemporary art lover. We can direct you to The Cat & The Moon, which has a lovely range of craft items for any last-minute gifts.
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