Slieve Bawn Wind Farm Walk Roscommon

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.

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.

Heritage Trail

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

Road walk climb

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.

Church Ruins

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.

Church Ruins

Mass Rock

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 mass rock

Holy Cross

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.

View from holy cross
Holy cross

Trim Trail

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.

Trim trail climb

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.

Cross roads where many trails meet

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,

Hill climb part 2

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.

Hill climb part 2

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.

Monastery Trail

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.

Rest Spots

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.

Picnic Benches

Please be aware that this is a clean and tidy area and bringing away what you you bring with you is essential.

Strokestown

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.

Local Refreshments

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.

Luke Gibbons Pub

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.

Hiking Diamond Hill Connemara

Whilst on a road trip through the Wild Atlantic Way we decided to stop off at Clifden for a few days and take the plunge and go hiking the 6.8km trail of Diamond Hill through Connemara National Park and embrace County Galway’s vast mountain scenes, The Diamond Hills stunning summit offering 360 degree views, is an isolated peak overlooking the village of Letterfrack, and the Twelve Bens. 

Location

Located only 15 minutes from the town of Clifden and set in the vilage of Letterrack.

Getting There

From Clifden

Take the N59 (Westport Road) towards Letterfrack. Before entering the village of Letterfrack you will see a sign for the National Park on the right hand side of the road. Turn right here and follow the road to the car park

From Westport

Follow the N59 (Leenane Road) towards Leenane, remain on the N59 to Letterfrack. 200 metres after the village you will find the main entrance for the National Park on your left hand side. Follow the road to the car park.

From Galway

Travel along the N59 to Clifden and then follow the directions above for travel from Clifden to Letterfrack (Distance Approx 93 kms).

The Tracks

The Diamond Hill Hike has 4 tracks green, red, blue and yellow with only the red reaching the summit.

The map of the trails

Green

The green track is a simple easy 0.5km nature trail, great for families and has a attached kids play area.

Yellow

Is a 1.5 km walking track looping at the foot at the hill. Easy conditions well pathed and enjoyable for all.

Blue

The blue track is 3km track with a few climbs, but these climbs are well patbed easily accessed and generally suitable for most people.

Red

The Red track is the most difficult and is the one taking you to the summit. In parts some small climbs are necessary and the tracks can be hard to see but this is only for a short period. All in all a level of fitness is need for this track but it certainly wouldn’t be too difficult.

Note: the tracks link up together meaning that the full length if completing the red track comes to 6.8 km.

Diamond Hill Facts

Elevation: 442 metres

Mountain Range: Twelve Bens

Entry

Entry to the Diamond Hill and Connemara National Park is free of charge and ample parking is provided.

Please respect the national park and always bring away what you take in.

Hike Diamond Hill The Start

Starting at the car park and information centre heading up the hill on the exposed gravel track away from the buildings.

As you can see below these tracks at the start are great and very well maintained.

Diamond Hill start

The First Climb

The first part of hike of Diamond Hill is fairly easy bringing you through bog land, with very minimal imcline. (Leading you into a false sense of security for later)

It’s at this point you really start to feel the rugged and wild and vast nature of this land .

Looking up from the bottom of Diamond Hill

After about half a kilometer you start the first little climb up the south side. This part of the climb is fairly easy the use of stones are in place to climb to easily assist.

The first climb

The First Vantage Point

At the top of the climb is where the views and the sights of this stunning landscape start to show. It really is a moment to stand back and take it all in.

Top Tip: we took to the hill around 9 am and were the only ones there compares to coming down around 11 and it being far busier.

First view

From the first vantage point you head up a few more bends and steps a couple of more breathtaking views, again at the point things are well payhed maintained and accessible for anyone with any general fitness.

More steps leading up

Hitting The Red Route

After getting up through the first few climbs you come to the break off point where you can continue round on the easier yellow and blue routes or march on to the summit and the red route.

Map of the routes

We chose the red route for the summit. As you can see you can see above the route is a loop over the top of the hill.

Top tip: on our climb wind speeds were nearly up at 35 kms the front of the hill climb is exposed to the sea breeze from the Atlantic. Check winds before you leave.

Narrowing Tracks

It’s at this point tracks start to narrow and inclines get a bit harder. Still very manageable though and certainly easy enough

Pathways narrowing to next vantage point

The next point brings you to a ledge for some great views of the Connemara National Park.

The video below shows walking up to the edge you can hear the wind battering us. What you can’t tell from the video is how difficult getting to the ledge. The wind at this point we found at its hardest .

The ledge vantage point

Getting Steep

We had been fairly impressed by how manageable the hike so far had been. But now things were getting steeper, narrower and with the wind causing off balance certainly more challenging.

Narrowing paths

We then started to encounter a few climbs and extremely steep parts, climbing a few rock faces and again trying to succeed these with the wind on our back was a bit challenging.

Climbing the rock faces

A look around for another view of this beautiful landscape and it was time to hit the summit.

Hike The Diamond Hill Summit

The final hike to the summit wasn’t to bad, again other than the wind. It was well maintained and warily accessed

Descending Diamond Hill

And then comes the descent. Firstly this is far easier as the wind is now blocked by the Hill and a chance to catch your breath.

After a few steep steps the view out the back of the mountain is truly amazing. Luckily the weather did play its part along the way.

View at the back of Diamond Mountain

Once you turn a little corner your view shines out towards Polladirk Valley, such a vast and striking landscape. With the stream of water running through the mountains and only the sounds of water running this is a great place to stop and reflect.

Polladirk Valley

The walk does starts to get much easier from here on in. The include is still fairly steep, however the well pathed tracks make it a whole lot easier.

The Finish

Refuel

At the bottom there is cafe and toilets, with benches and a area to rest and refuel. Also located here is a tourist information centre.

Hungry Hiker cafe
Picnic and cafe seating

Other Local Attractions

Kylemore Abbey

Located just 5 minutes away is the stunning mahor House Kylemore Abbey.

The Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens were Originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift.

Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history.

Open to the public Kylemore Abbey offer a Gothic Church, the spectacular Victorian Walled Gardens, a working Craft Shop, Restaurant and Tea Rooms not forgetting the Lake and Woodland walks.

Sky Road

Take the Sky Road from Clifden to Letterfrack see stunning views across the Wild Atlantic Way and western coastline.

The Clifden castme ruins is also located on this road take the walk down to this 19th building and see this once Castle and Manor House.

Where To Stay

The Station House Hotel in Clifden is the perfect choice.

The once Galway Clifden railway which was built on 1895 and closed in 1935 the buildings where used by Millars Connemara tweed Mills until the early 90’s and then laid derelict until 1998 when businessman Johen Sweeney bought the site and redeveloped it using all the original buildings. Like the old stationmasters house which is now the hotel restaurant “Signal Restaurant”.

Such facilities sr the hotel include

  • Signal restaurant
  • Theatre
  • Gym
  • Renew Health and Beauty
  • Pool and jacuzzi
  • Lounge Bar
  • Shopping
  • Conference rooms

See Station House Hotel website HERE

More Wild Atlantic Way

This isn’t the only part of the Wild Atlantic Way we have done we have also, had a road trip to the picturesque village of Doolin and the legendary Cliffs of Moher. See our Road Trip. Further to the North West corner we experienced the historical town of Killala also steeped in history.

Tallebudgera Valley Hidden Gem

Our Great Find In Tallebudgera

The Gold Coast Australia, with it’s lively city and lush hinterland with a full list of things to do. It was refreshing to find a spot so secluded from everywhere else to go explore and that was Tallebudgera Valley , and the cream track.

Whilst working out in the Tallebudgera Valley area, I got talking to a local on the street and chatting about this rather quiet but beautiful part of the Gold Coast.

The area is about 30 – 40 minutes out from the Gold Coast center and a way into the country. As you drive into the valley there are only handfuls of scattered traditional “Queenslander” homes, a rural fire brigade and a green. Its one road in and one road out.

The local I got chatting to on the street brought to my attention an area right deep into the the woodland and off the beaten track and seldom visited by anyone but locals. He told us of great watering holes, streams, waterfalls, a hike and a lush rainforest.

Intrigued one sunday morning we decided to pack up the car and check it out.

Location

Driving all the way to the end of the Tallebudgera creek road. about 40 minute drive from Surfers Paradise.

Note: Near the end of the Tallebudgera Creek Road, this area is subject to flooding during the wet season. Also being out in the forest always be sure to check bush fire warning signs especially in summer months November to April. Tallebudgera Valley also does have a rural fire brigade with more info.

 

Arrival

Once you get deep into the Tallebudgera road the sense of seclusion becomes real. And as we arrived at the end of the road we did stop to think for a minute that we may have go wrong somewhere. All there was around was a spot to park a few cars, a beautiful stream and a gate which we assumed leaded to the house to the side of it.

Tallebudgera valley

After exploring for a while we looked on behind the gate and caught a glimpse of a track and a sign. Heading through, even still a bit dubious as it seemed part of the house we carried on none the less.

As we followed through the tracks we came out at numerous watering holes and streams. The peace and quiet and just the sound of the Whip Birds and nature tweet away in the background was bliss. It was like this area hadn’t been touched ever.

We continued to walk through the rainforest until a big stream appeared and tracks leading up the right to the path into the trees. Little had we known but we had found, what seemed an overgrown beginning of a hike track.

After a bit of research we found that this was one of the beginnings of the Springbrook to Tallebudgera Cream Track. With the more popular start of the track on the Springbrook mountain side.

The Cream Track

The Cream Track History

The cream track was developed by Martin Sheils in 1905. The track was developed so that cans of cream from from Percy Reid farm could come down with Billy Smith an in law of Martin rather than the long trek around Mudgeeraba.

To this day the rack is still used by hikers and walkers alike.

Cream Track Details

Distance: a 5.3km walking track through rainforest and farmland.

The Land: the track goes through Serenity Farm private property and Springbrook National Park meaning a permit is needed to walk this track.

Serenity Farm is a working farm with exposed cattle.

Difficulty : The track has steep sections to it and it regarded as challenging and having a partner with you is advised.

Views : Stunning mountainside views of the coast

Must brings : Water, food, good walking shoes and a GPS, as due to the area being very quiet and relatively untouched certain sections and tracks may not be to clear.

After Trip Refreshments

After finishing up in the valley all the hard work will need to be rewarded. A short drive to Burleigh Heads and a couple of cafes to try out would be Paddock Bakery, or the ever popular Commune. Both serving up great breakfasts, lunch and coffees.

And Finally

We were delighted to find such a stunning, peaceful and and untouched place to visit if only if we had the permit we would of gone up on the hike. But Tallebudgera Valley should not be overlooked for those peaceful days.

But, well that can be for another time and can be an excuse to return.

Once you make it to Springbrook you cant go past a visit to Purling Brook Falls or the Natural Bridge

Thanks for checking this out

Stay safe

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