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Truskmore, Co. Sligo

June 7, 2010

Walking Truskmore, Co. Sligo

If you like to reach your peaks by walking up steep access roads that depart from somewhat unwelcoming valleys then Truskmore in Sligo may be your kinda place. If you throw a heavy blanket of cloud into the mix, and a cock-up that means you have to go back to the hill again, then you can recreate my day out.

This mountain stands at 647 meters and is found in the spectacular Gleniff Horse Shoe Valley. It forms the highest point in County Sligo. (A few moments detour will take you to the highest point in Leitrim. Let’s not mention that again.)

I stomped up in 55 minutes, and returned in 40.

Of all the county tops in Ireland, to the best of my knowledge this is the only one that presents access issues for the walker, which is unfortunate as the area is most enticing and abounds in distinctive hills like Benbulben and the razor-sharp prow of Benwiskin. I dare say with enough beer on board and without wearing your glasses you could think the area to vaguely resemble Table Mountain or The Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg mountains. Now there’s a claim.

Dramatic scenery in the Gleniff Valley area of the Dartry Mountains, Co. SligoThe spectacular cliffs of Annacoona at the head of the Gleniff Horse Shoe Valley

With tales of walkers being chased down by “The Bull” on his quad bike I entered the Gleniff Valley with some trepidation, stopping only to apply black face paint and cover the car with leaves and branches before hopping the fence at the access road for RTE’s Truskmore transmitter site.

Ok, I lie. I didn’t use black face paint. I was a bit nervous though as I parked up at the gates for the access road. During the drive in I had passed numerous Private Property Signs affixed to the valley’s comprehensive fencing and the gate itself has prominent warnings not to proceed further. Even the sheep who gathered from far and wide to watch me put on my boots just stood and stared at me with “you’re asking for trouble” expressions on their faces.

90% of the land in Gleniff Valley is Private Property. No Hillwalking Please.

I think they're trying to tell us something.

The access road rises steeply from the valley but when I visited entered the clouds after about ten minutes and couldn’t see more than 30 feet or so, which made for a rather monotonous slog.

The Gleniff Valley from Truskmore, Dartry Mountains County Sligo

The Gleniff Valley from Truskmore, shortly before entering the clouds.

Suffice to say that I reached the summit area where I could hear but not see technicians working high above me on the TV transmitter. Given the number of No Trespassing warnings I had seen I skirted my way around to the summit and wasted no time before turning around to head back down the hill. Only now ten days later or so do I realise that I forgot to walk the short distance to the highest point in County Leitrim. Gah, I’ll have to go back.

Having hurried up and down again I decided to take my lunch at Mullaghmore head which is only ten minutes or so from Gleniff (you can just see it in the image above). Jutting out into Donegal bay this headland is certainly worth a visit as it has far reaching views towards Slieve League and the Barnsmore gap in Donegal to the North West and South West towards Benwee head in Mayo. This is also the scene of some of Ireland’s finest big wave surfing, something hard to imagine on the flat calm day I visited.

Slieve League in Donegal from Mullaghmore head in Sligo

Slieve League and many other hills in Donegal are visible from Mullaghmore head

Truskmore Resources

If you plan to walk the access road then you probably won’t need map 16, though if you have visibility of more than twenty feet it will help you identify the hills you can see. Also, if you are in the area you may want to explore further as there are lots of places worth visiting nearby.

To reach the area drive out of Sligo town on the road to Bundoran and hang a right for the Gleniff Horse Shoe in Cliffony. The road around the valley is a loop which can be taken from either direction,  I suspect counter-clockwise may be best view-wise. Park up on the road beside the gates for the access road. If the gates are open I suspect you could drive all the way to the summit, though the maintenance crew seem to lock the gate directly behind them when they are coming up the mountain to work in the area.

I believe that Truskmore can be approached from near Glenade to the east, but I’m not clear on the routing beyond the fact that you pass near the Eagle’s Rocks. You can find out more on the Mountain Views website. I’ll be investigating this option myself as the access road is not the most engaging of ways to reach the top.

Now that I know I have to visit Truskmore againto take in the high point of Leitrim, I plan to be sooth my limbs afterwards in a voya seaweed bath in Strandhill.

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