Although it’s less known than some of the more popular Sligo walks, the Knocknashee Walk packs a punch.
The hills here are alive… with the sound of history! Knocknashee is believed to have been a fortified pre-historic town in Bronze Age Connacht – around 1000 BCE.
Nowadays, traces of that fascinating past remain, and the views from the top make it clear why our ancestors might have chosen the location for their fort.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Knocknashee Walk, from where to park (can be tricky) to how long it takes.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Knocknashee Walk in Sligo
The Knocknashee Walk is a little bit trickier than some of the other walks in Sligo, as there’s very limited parking. Here are some need-to-knows.
Knocknashee is part of the Ox Mountain range in south Sligo. It’s a 45-minute drive from Enniscrone, a 30-minute drive from Sligo Town, a 35 minute drive from Strandhill, a 40-minute drive from Rosses Point and a 50-minute drive from Mullaghmore.
2. Where to park
So, although you can’t see it on Google Maps, there’s a tiny (space for 2 cars) bit of roadside parking at Knocknashee here (just down from the house). To avoid any hassle, get here early!
3. How long it takes
Depending on your fitness levels, the Knocknashee Walk takes between 1-1.5 hours and stretches for roughly 1.5 km. Remember to dress appropriately – sturdy boots are needed as the start can be wet.
4. Difficulty level
While the Knocknashee Walk isn’t a long one, this is a hill with a considerable ascent, which makes the walk strenuous, so you will need a good level of fitness.
About Knocknashee in Sligo
The Irish name for Knocknashee is Cnoc na Sí – or, charmingly, Hill of the Fairies, and it is believed to be the site of one of Ireland’s largest Bronze Hill forts.
Ireland’s Bronze Age lasted from about 2500 BCE to 500 BCE and was characterised by many new and exciting ways of working with metal. Bronze, a mix of tin and copper, became increasingly popular though the thousands of years because it was so durable.
On Knocknashee, the traces of history remain– earth and stone ramparts, along with burial cairns and hut sites.
A guide to the Knocknashee Walk
The Knocknashee Walk is an absolute beaut of a walk, and a morning spent here really is one of my favourite things to do in Sligo.
The beauty of this is that you can, at times, have the whole places all to yourself. Here’s an overview of the trail.
The start of the trail
The trail begins at what is affectionately known as a ‘kissing gate’. This is located here, right next to the house and right across from the tiny parking area. Although you can’t actually see it on Google Maps, you can’t miss it when you arrive to the location linked to above.
The first part of the walk
From the kissing gate, you take the steep gravel path that leads to the summit. At the end of the gravel path, you will find a stile that leads to an open grassy plateau, and then you can either continue straight ahead or take a right, following the stone wall there. Look out for all the lovely wood carvings halfway up, too.
Circling the plateau and soaking up the views
Should you opt for the circular route, this will give you the panoramic views of the surrounding hills and mountains as described above. You’ll be able to see the Keash Hill to the east, the Ox Mountains to the west and if you’re lucky, weather-wise, you’ll see Mayo’s sacred mountain, Croagh Patrick to the south-west.
The Megalithic tombs
There are several ruined megalithic chambers in the Knocknashee area, that all provide the explorer with commanding views of the mountain. They are within the flat summit and comprised of quarried limestone, some 20 metres in diameter and about four metres high. The south cairn is made of large limestone slabs and has been opened, perhaps many years ago, as the entry slab is broken.
Making your way back down
The descent on the Knocknashee Walk couldn’t be more straightforward – simply retrace your footsteps all the way back down. On a clear day, you’ll have mighty views spread out in front of you as far as the eye can see.
What to do after the Knocknashee Walk
One of the beauties of the Knocknashee Walk is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Sligo. Here are some of our favourites:
- Union Wood: 25-minute drive
- Knocknarea Walk: 30-minute drive
- The Glen (pictured above): 30-minute drive
- Benbulben Forest Walk: 40-minute drive
FAQs about Knocknashee
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long the walk takes to where to park.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is the Knocknashee Walk hard?
Yes – this is a hard enough climb due to the steepness of the ascent, so a decent level of fitness is needed.
How long does the Knocknashee Walk take?
You’ll want to allow between 1 and 1.5 hours to complete the walk. Allow more time for soaking up the view at the top.
Where do you park for Knocknashee?
Above, you’ll find a link to the place on Google Maps. Note that you can’t see the parking on Street View, as the parking was added after the Street View recording was taken.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.