Although The Glen in Sligo looks like something whipped up in Photoshop, it’s very real and it’s intensely beautiful.
The Glen is a result of a natural phenomenon that took thousands of years ago, but more on that in a moment.
In the guide below, you’ll discover how to find the entrance to The Glen (this can be tricky) to what to expect when you arrive.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting The Glen in Sligo
A visit to The Glen isn’t as straightforward as a visit to some of the more popular places to visit in Strandhill, as its entry point is almost hidden. Here are some quick need-to-knows.
You’ll find the Glen hidden away from view on the side of the majestic Knocknarea, a huge, flat-topped rock formation. Situated in County Sligo, the mountain is on the Coolera Peninsula, around 7 km south-west of Sligo Town, and just south of Strandhill.
2. A natural phenomenon
No one knows for sure how the Glen was created. Theories range from supernatural forces creating a haven for the fey, to the formation being the result of an earthquake. One of the more popular theories is that it was formed by a glacier during the last ice age. While the walls of the Glen look man-made, they’ve been hewn from the rock naturally, creating something far more spectacular than man might dream up!
3. Like something from Lord of the Rings
Stepping into the Glen transports you out of the modern world, into a peaceful, green and natural land that feels a million miles away. Tall walls of mossy rock trickling with water surround you, while an array of trees, shrubs, and ferns creep up from the ground. The sounds from the world outside are silenced, leaving you alone in this fairy tale wonderland.
4. Bring waterproof footwear
According to a recent visitor, waterproof footwear are needed when visiting The Glen, so make sure to throw some on before you leave the house.
Finding the entrance to The Glen at Knocknarea
Finding the entrance to The Glen in Sligo can be a bit of a challenge. There are no sign posts or markers, but if you know what to look out for, you’ll find it eventually.
If you’re driving you need to aim for the area shown above (here it is on Google Maps). You’ll know you’ve reached it when you see the white well (yellow arrow above).
The entrance point is now near impossible to see, as the hedge and trees next to it are so overgrown. However, you’ll find it if you rummage around where the red arrow is pointing.
What to expect from a visit to The Glen
There are several reasons why an early-morning visit to The Glen is one of our favourite things to do in Sligo (the picture above should give you a good idea why, though!).
Nature lovers will adore The Glen and the fascinating plant life it’s home to. You’ll find a veritable smorgasbord of trees, shrubs, ferns, and moss to revel in, such as oak, pine, hazel, holly, beech, and plenty of ivy. One of the most impressive things is the height the ferns and nettles reach within the Glen — it’s almost like magic! Besides plants, there are plenty of intriguing critters that call the Glen home, such as lizards, beetles, butterflies, and rabbits.
A magical place
Whatever caused this cleft in the mountainside to appear, it certainly feels magical! Running just under a mile into the side of Knocknarea, The Glen is around 40 ft wide throughout much of its length, with natural stone walls reaching heights of around 60 ft. The result is a chasm that cuts out the sound of the modern world, replacing it with soothing trickling water, bird song, and the wind breathing through the trees.
A hidden gem
The Glen truly is a hidden gem, well off the beaten track. Since it isn’t signed at all, very few visitors to Sligo know about it. Finding it is difficult, but when you do, you’ll be glad you did. It’s supremely peaceful, and offers solitude and a break from our busy modern world.
The Glen walk
While there’s no official, marked trail, The Glen is a superb place for a gentle walk, and you can walk from the start to the end of The Glen in around 25 to 30 minutes (so allow at least 40 for the full walk).
Once you’ve found the gate that marks the entrance to The Glen, follow the path along for a short distance, until you find yourself surrounded by sheer rocky walls.
Once you’re in the chasm, you can follow it for around 3 quarters of a mile. If you’re a little claustrophobic you may find it slightly oppressive, but on the whole there’s plenty of space and light.
Indeed, the chasm reaches widths of up to 70 ft in some areas, and it feels amazingly tranquil. A good pair of waterproof boots are recommended, especially after rain.
All the water from the mountain trickles down into The Glen, and even on a sunny day you can hear the rocky walls weeping. There are few walks in Sligo that can go toe-to-toe with this one.
Things to do near The Glen
Once you’ve finished exploring this magical gorge, there are plenty of other things to see and do nearby. From hikes and walks to food in Strandhill, there’s plenty to keep you going.
1. The Knocknarea walk
While you’re in the area, it’d be a crime not to tackle the Knocknarea walk! From the Glen, the official car park is around 1 km away. From here, there’s a well-marked path all the way to the top of the mountain. Here you’ll find the famous Queen Maeve’s Grave, an ancient cairn sitting atop the mountain.
2. Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
Housing the largest, most diverse collection of ancient rock circles, passage tombs, and cairns in Ireland, Carrowmore is well worth a visit. Knowledgeable guides can take you on a tour of the entire site, which takes in around 30 tombs, while delving into the amazing ancient history of County Sligo. Some of the graves date back as much as 6,000 years!
On the northwest side of Knocknarea you’ll find the small seaside village of Strandhill. You can saunter along Strandhill Beach, drop into one of the many restaurants in Strandhill or head off on a trip to Coney Island.
4. Lots more to see and do nearby
Sligo is steeped in ancient history, and enjoys a wealth of sites of stunning natural beauty. On top of that, you’ll find charming towns and villages, home to some of the best pubs and restaurants in the world! Discover lots more to see and do in our Sligo guide.
FAQs about visiting The Glen in Sligo
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to find the entrance point to how long the walk takes.
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.
Where is the entrance point for The Glen in Sligo?
You’ll find a link to the entrance point on Google Maps above. It’s easily missed, so make sure to keep an eye out for the white well. The entrance area is just across from it.
Where do you park for The Glen?
You’ll find several little laybys where you can park if you’re visiting The Glen. Please be careful when walking the roads here, as they’re narrow and very bendy.
How long does the walk at The Glen take?
Allow at least 40 minutes for the walk here. It’ll take you around 20 minutes to walk from the entry point to the end.
Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he’d still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.