Today, Wednesday 8th April 2015, I made the snap decision to make use of the newly opened walk up Knocknarea Mountain. A walk which starts opposite the Rugby Club premises in Strandhill, and goes right up to Queen Maeve’s Cairn on the summit of the mountain.
The walk, which I believe, was built by the Sligo County Council, starts off with a fairly level gravel path along the side of a field, before too long though, the contours of the mountain become evident, as the path gets fairly steep, with large steps which utilise old railway sleepers.
As we reach the bottom edge of the large wooded area, our path swings ninety degrees to the right for an all too brief level walk, before the path turns ninety degrees to the left and starts assending the steepest part of the climb. A very steep climb which is done on a very narrow, raised wooden gang-plank affair, which continues almost as far as the top of the mountain. The climb, being on the north-westerly side of Knocknarea Mountain offered fascinating views over Sligo Bay, Coney Island, Rosses Point, Benbulben, Strandhill, Culleenamore and Ballysadare Bay.
Having walked up the newly opened pathway to the summit of Knocknarea I have to say its a very, very tough climb, taking us a full hour to get to the top of the mountain. During which time we stopped briefly and chatted with some of the numerous other people doing the walk.
A number of those people we talked to stated certain safety issues which we feel need to be addressed as a matter of priority.
Firstly, the raised wooden gang-plank is far too narrow, especially if people going up, meet people going down.
Also, should anyone slip and fall from the gang-plank, and it is going to happen at some time, there will be serious injuries, so I feel some sort of a handrail is required on the downhill side of the path, for people to hold on to. Not everybody is going to be as agile as a teenager.
And a trivial matter, the wooden gang-planks have staple nail in them for grip, a good idea, but already quite a number of those nails are coming loose, so loose that some of them caught in my trousers and on one occasion very nearly caused me to fall off the wooden pathway altogether.
This new pathway is a much needed addition to Sligo‘s list of tourist attractions, though it must be stressed, it is not for unfit, elderly people who have problems with their balance, and might cause some problems for people with walking sticks.
As I stated above, I have a number of concerns with peoples safety whilst on this walk, issues which I hope wil be listened to by Sligo County Council.
Personally speaking, I much prefer the old walk up Knocknarea, on the southern slopes of the mountain, as its a much shorter, though perhaps steeper walk up to Queen Maeve’s Cairn. and for my personal preference, I doubt whether I will be using the new walk very much, if at all, in the foreseeable future.