When we moved into our new house in Roscommon one thing holding us back where the site of wind turbines on the Slieve Bawn hills directly back from our back garden.
Although a dislike for the looks of them, with an interest an renewable energy we decided to embrace them and thought why not go and see them.
We had also heard of the many walking tracks and sights to be seen on the hill and were very interested in visiting.
Table of contents
Getting To Slieve Bawn
The wind farm is located 5km from the town of Strokestown and 10 km from Roscommon Town in the mid West of Ireland.
The Slieve Bawn Wind Turbines
In total Slieve Bawn has 20 wind turbines and a sub station producing electricity for homes, schools, hospitals and many other businesses in Ireland.
It is said that the wind turbines help produce energy for nearly 40,000 homes.
Slieve Bawn Walk The Tracks
The whole site has 6 tracks in total all different distances, and connecting with each other giving many if options to get out and see. The summit of Slieve Bawn is the 3rd highest point in County Roscommon.
Below we go through each Slieve Bawn walk in detail.
This trail is the most interesting of them all coming in at 4.2 km and roughly takes between an hour to an hour and a half. This track starts at the main car park and winds up the hill on the large road track
As you can see road is in good condition, wide and easy on the feet, not only here but throughout the walks.
Being the heritage trail this walk takes you through all the great sites like the old Church Ruins, Mass Rock, Holy Cross and Monastery Trail. The first of them is the church ruins about 1.5km in.
All that remains of this Church Ruins is a few rocks scattered along the grass. The church was once Penal Church built in 1837, during the period of religious suppression through the reign King Henry V111. During this time the the penal laws were changed andh istory tells us that churches in the area were shut down or demolished.
The area is overgrown and remains unplanted in the coniferous forest with just part of the base of the wall left to show. These church’s would of been built of locally sourced yellow and and white sandstone at the time.
Along from the Church Ruins lies the Mass Rock, this was said to be to mark where the mass was celebrated from time to time and during special occasions. The rock is well maintained and secured with fencing.
The Holy Cross Lies on the second highest point of the hill at 254 metres and has unprecedented views of the Roscommon landscape and beyond.
The crossed was erected in 1950 in a year that was declared a Holy Year Pope Pius XII.
What is a Holy year? It’s known as a type of year to special devotion and penance, and a year in which, through following certain prescriptions, you can gain a Plenary Indulgence. These types of crosses were put up all over Ireland.
The Trim Trail, or as it’s known the fitness trail is a 2.9km trail and outdoor gym trail with a scattering of outside gym equipment for you to try, 12 pieces to be precise.
This track can take 45 minutes as a walk but if you stop to use the equipment obviously allow more time to complete. The track starts at turbine 20 which is the lowest of the turbines and is about 400 minutes before you arrive at the car park you certainly cant miss it.
The track runs adjacent to the side of the mountain after about 400 metres a sharp left leads you up deep into the forest and a warning the next 200 metres or so are very steep.
Once at the top of the hill a left turn before the fence below takes you back on a loop. Around more exercise machines and eventually back down the hill. The fence is also a point where you can join some of the other walking tracks just flow the coloured arrows. this is especially a handy point for reaching the summit.
Yellow Loop Trail
This trail, the longest at 6.5km starts at the main car park where the Heritage Trail starts, however this track goes straight into the dense forest into a steep hill,
And just when you think you up the steepest part it continues round the corner and further up all up though its only maybe 150 metres in total.
This loop track also takes you up to the Holy Cross as mentioned before. and heads back down the hill where you head along the wide tracks up another hill to the highest point the Summit. (see below)
Slieve Bawn Summit
Standing at a huge 264 metres high the summit has views over Roscommon and beyond into County Galway and Westmeath. The views are worth the long walk alone and with a raised platform and viewing goggles to enhance the views.
There are also lots of picnic benches scattered around this point, a great point to pitch up for a picnic and enjoy the view.
Forest Information Point
A few hundred metres before the summit you come across the information section of the forest in this area you walk in to the forest area and can learn about all the trees that are present in the forest of Slieve Bawn. below are a few examples of the trees in the forest.
Orange Loop Trail
The Orange Loop trail is a 3.9km and takes just over an hour this track starts at the main car park and meanders through the forest linking it with many of the other tracks and taking in the beautiful greenery of the forest.
The Monastery Trail runs from west to east and comes down either side, this tack is not looped and lies at 2.7km long and takes about an hour it effectively cuts right through the centre of the hill.
All along the way throughout the walk is a scattering if picnic benches for you to enjoy a break. Like these one below at the main car park a perfect way to finish off your Slieve Bawn walk and to recharge the batteries.
Please be aware that this is a clean and tidy area and bringing away what you you bring with you is essential.
The closet town to Slieve Bawn is Strokestown, which has the recognition of being one of the 27 heritage towns of Ireland.
Strokestown is home to the Strokestown House built in the mid 18th century and is hone to Irelands largest famine museum. Other attractions include woodland walks, walled gardens, cafe shop and daily tours of the house itself.
Strokestown House is also the start of the walk ‘The Famine Way Walk” this is in honour of the 1,490 people who walked the 165km route from Strokestown Park Estate to House Quay in Dublin in 1847 aiming to get aboard the ships on Dublin Quay.
Luke Gibbons pub is located just a few hundred yards from the foot of the drive up to Slieve Bawn a fairly decent walk away but easy enough. A real locals pub friendly and welcoming. Grab a pint of Guiness and chat with the locals about the local surroundings.
Getting something to eat locally the cafe at Strokestown House is a great option with a wide selection of hot and cold lunch items to choose from.
Hiking And Walking
Checking out hiking and walking tracks is a new favourite hobby of ours especially since our move to Ireland. Our biggest hike to date has been in the Connemara region and Diamond Hill a 3 hour round hike. More locally we have enjoyed Roscommon’s largest park Mote park a flat set of walking tracks through this beautiful forest.
Internationally we have hiked Mount Warning in New South Wales a very challenging and tough hike especially the summit. Waterfall trekking under the Purlng Brook Falls track in the Gold Coast Hinterland is another we have tested out.