Surf n’ turf: Can Sligo be the journey capital of Eire?

I am on Lough Gill in Sligo, having fun with a peaceable morning of Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP) throughout just a few days of journey within the northwest. Once we launch from a small seashore at Hazelwood Forest, I fear about falling off the board. However I quickly overlook about steadiness as I grow to be absorbed in nature.

Three geese sit on a navigation mark as we move by. The lake is surrounded by inexperienced hills and timber stuffed with chirping birds and there are tiny islands within the distance. We paddle via some tall rushes to the aspect of an island.

As we glide alongside, we hear tales of the outdated girl who lived on Beezie’s Island and the legend of how the lake was supposedly created by tears. The wealthy folklore of the realm impressed poet WB Yeats, who spent his childhood holidays right here and went on to immortalise the Lake Isle of Innisfree. These days, you will get out on the lake on a kayak, SUP or crusing dinghy and even discover an isle for your self.

On horseback with Island View Riding Stables

On horseback with Island View Using Stables

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Lough Gill, Co Sligo. Image: Getty

With its flat-topped mountains, limitless seashores, rocky reefs and freshwater lakes, Sligo is styling itself as the journey capital of Eire. It has a lot of competitors from different counties on the Wild Atlantic Manner, however Journey Sligo, a brand new community of 14 exercise suppliers, says that the number of adventures on supply in such a compact space and in such gorgeous places is a giant benefit. The county’s measurement additionally makes it simple to do a couple of exercise in a day.

What I realise too, is that so a lot of Sligo’s journey places have a wealthy cultural historical past and a few fascinating legends to go together with them.

On a surfboard at Strandhill, for instance, each time I whizz in in the direction of the shore – the instances I’m truly standing up on the board, that’s – I’m in awe of Knocknarea Mountain in entrance of me. The hill takes on totally different colors as the sunshine adjustments with every passing cloud. That is the place the legendary Queen Medb (or Maeve) is alleged to be buried standing up, and I can see the mysterious rocky cairn on the summit.

The mountain high is a simple stroll, so I climb it later to see the cairn and the views again right down to the seashore. There’s a cluster of 14 Neolithic cairns over at Carrowkeel, so one other day I join a guided strolling tour with Seatrails ( to discover them.

Journey is in information Auriel Robinson’s blood – she grew up with crusing and has a grasp’s in maritime archaeology. She tells me how the hills right here have been on the ocean mattress 300 million years in the past and are stuffed with coral, how the outdated mining path we stroll on is an historical sea gorge.

We climb out and in of the traditional passage graves, which date again so far as three,500BC and have 360° views over the encircling mountains, with views so far as Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Donegal.

The stunning Temple House manor
The stunning Temple House manor

The gorgeous Temple Home manor

For a tougher climb, Benbulben with its distinctive flat high sits at the beginning of the Dartry Mountain vary and appears down over Lough Gill, Donegal Bay and Sligo city. This mountain was additionally as soon as underwater and the mountain high is filled with the fossilised stays of tiny sea creatures. On a hike right here, I anticipate the floor to be lined in rocks and grass however it’s lined in comfortable and generally soggy blanket lavatory.

The mountain is steeped in legend too – with tales of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Diarmuid and Gráinne – and is even stated to have a fairy portal to the underworld on its aspect.

Legends apart, Sligo is filled with journey alternatives. You may go horse-riding on the seashore, take to the ocean or the lakes for angling, crusing, kayaking or SUP, or discover the county by biking, climbing, mountain climbing and strolling.

There are browsing spots for all ranges too, from the constant seashore break at Strandhill (beneath), the place you will discover a number of surf faculties and a surf membership, to scenic seashores like Enniscrone and Streedagh, plus reef breaks at Easkey which magnetize extra superior surfers.


Surfers courageous the chilly at Strandhill, Co. Sligo

For a novel journey expertise, take a moonlit midnight kayak tour, a daybreak refrain SUP tour, a catch-and-cook fishing journey, a bike-to-seaweed-bath tour or perhaps a ‘star-b-q’ night time hike.

The brand new community brings many of those actions collectively and chair of Journey Sligo, William Britton from Northwest Journey Excursions, says what’s particular about Sligo is the individuals and the range.

“We’ve every part from excessive octane, thrill-seeking journey sports activities to a household’s first journey with small youngsters on canoes, to supply guests and locals alike,” he tells me. “It is time we labored collectively to make some noise about our artistic suppliers, lovely panorama and our distinctive journeys and excursions.”

My ultimate journey, after a sound sleep at nation manor Temple Home (, beneath; which has an interesting tower and chateau) is kayaking with information John Barrett of Wild Moist Adventures ( on Temple Home’s lake. Right here, we reduce out from the boathouse via lily pads and reeds. A delicate breeze whips up tiny wavelets on the water as we move two crannógs (man-made islands) on the lake, and we cease to look at swans on the alternative shore glide gracefully among the many reeds.


The gorgeous Temple Home manor

We land the kayaks right here, and John leads the way in which to a hoop fort within the forest, telling tales of the woods and of historical underground passages, earlier than producing, to my delight, a flask of tea and scones from his backpack to take pleasure in earlier than our return paddle.

Having surfed, paddled, kayaked and hiked my approach across the county, I end with a sizzling seaweed bathtub at Kilcullen’s in Enniscrone (kilcullenseaweedbaths.internet); a becoming approach to ease sore muscle mass. As I take in the oils, I believe again over the tales of mountains that have been as soon as underneath the ocean, warrior queens and idyllic lake isles and what an journey it has all been.

So is Sligo the journey capital of Eire? This island has a lot journey that I’m not positive if anyone county might declare that title, but it surely’s been enjoyable placing it to the take a look at.

5 to attempt

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Barry Mottershead of Sligo Kayak Excursions.

Two nights B&B at Temple Home (, plus dinner and a alternative of kayaking, canoeing or SUP with Wild Moist Adventures prices from €149pps.

Sligo’s Riverside Resort ( has a two-day guided hike with two nights’ B&B from €205pp.

An Urge for food for Journey on Lough Talt, with SUP, kayaking, canoeing, archery or hillwalking and lunch at Cawley’s ( prices from €45pp

The Benbulben hike and picnic at Coopershill (, with two nights B&B, one dinner and a picnic, prices from €277pps.

Two nights B&B at Pier Head Resort in Mullaghmore, with dinner and horse driving with Island View Using Stables ( prices €296pps.

For extra data, see

What to pack

Put on layers –  temperatures can change shortly! Carry waterproofs and, for mountain mountain climbing, correct boots with ankle help. For watersports like SUP or browsing, convey swimwear to put on underneath a wetsuit plus a towel. Don’t overlook sunscreen and a reusable water bottle.

Learn extra:

10 most uncommon adventures in Eire – from lavatory challenges to axe-throwing

Weekend Journal

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