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The 2022 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2022 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 17 (Sligo and Leitrim) – The Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail, the highest waterfall in Ireand and more

Day 17 sees us explore lots of Sligo.

We’ll be kicking things off with a walk (hopefully your legs aren’t too sore from yesterday), then a spin out to a waterfall, food and one of the best coastal walks in the county.

Let’s get cracking!

1 – The Queen Maeve Trail

// Your hotel to Knocknarea Mountain – 20-minute drive (arrive for 10:00) //

Knocknarea Mountain Walk

Photo by Alison Crummy

You’ll have seen this trail feature in our guide to the best things to do in Sligo.

We’re going to take the Queen Maeve Trail up Knocknarea Mountain, which should take us around 1 and a half hours to complete.

You’ll see this mountain dominating the Sligo skyline from many angles, so you should get a eyeful of it from the distance as you approach.

When you leave the car park at Knocknarea, follow the path along the bog bridge all the way until you reach the summit.

You’ll be treated to panoramic views of Sligo from the top.

2 – Fish, chips and lots of coffee in Shell’s Cafe

Knocknarea to Shell’s Cafe – 11-minute drive (arrive to the Shell’s for around 12:30)

shells cafe sligo strandhill

Photo via Go Strandhill

The chances are you’ll be pretty damn hungry after your climb, so we’re going to head for food and coffee straight after.

Fish and chips by the sea at Shell’s Café is a little slice of magic.

Eat up, grab and coffee (and a cake, if you like) and walk outside to soak up a lungful of sea air after.

3 – The highest waterfall in Ireland

// Shell’s to Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird, or ‘the Devil’s Chimney’, 30-minute drive – (arrive for 14:30) //

At 150m Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird, or ‘the Devil’s Chimney’ as it’s sometimes referred to, is Ireland’s highest waterfall.

The name ‘the Devil’s Chimney’ comes from when the waterfall gushes upwards following rainfall when the wind blows from the south.

We’re going to head off on the 45-minute walk that’ll take us up to see it (note, it doesn’t flow during dry weather. Your best bet is to visit if there has been rainfall).

You’ll find the entrance on the road towards Glencar Waterfall. Parking is reasonably limited, however, so you may need to park at Glencar and walk back (takes about 22 minutes).

The hike up to the Devil’s Chimney is moderately strenuous, but you’ll be rewarded with views of the surrounding valley and Glencar lake on your way.

4 – Glencar Waterfall (Leitrim)

// Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird to Glencar Waterfall – 5-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

Our next stop takes us outside of Sligo and into Leitrim.

If you’re familiar with the work of W.B. Yeats, you may recall mention of a line in his poem ‘The Stolen Child’ that goes, ‘Where the wandering water gushes From the hills above Glen-Car’.

This is the perfect place to spend some time and heal a pounding head by listening to the music of the water as it tumbles into the water from above.

5 – Parke’s Castle

// Glencar Waterfall to Parke’s Castle – 20-minute drive (arrive for 17:00) //

parkes castle leitrim

Photo via Parkes Castle

This restored early 17th-century plantation era castle in Leitrim boasts an absolute wealth of historical tales and insights to life in Ireland in days gone by.

For visitors looking to learn more about Ireland’s history and the islands connections to British rule, Parke’s Castle is a must.

Facilities include a visitor center and optional guided tours.

6 – Food and a bed for the night

// Parke’s Castle to the Glassdoor Hotel (Sligo) – 20-minute drive (arrive for 18:30) //

We’re going to head back into Sligo for the night.

If you’d like to spend some more time in Leitrim, here’s a guide that’s packed with tonnes of things to do.

Check into your hotel, chill for a bit and then grab some dinner in the Kitchen Restaurant.

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Monday 13th of March 2023

Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you


Thursday 9th of March 2023

the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.


Monday 6th of March 2023

Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?

Suzanne Sullivan

Saturday 18th of February 2023

Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!

David Ward

Wednesday 18th of January 2023

This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.

Keep up the good work.

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