Truskmore - Sligo's highest peak (and Leitrim if you find the cairn!)
When I started this website my intention was to upload recipes but also write about a lot of my day trips/trips away around Ireland. Alas, with having no time with other baking commitments, trying to maintain a personal life and then of course Covid I haven't done near enough writing! But that is going to change...starting here...
I said a few years ago I wanted to climb the 32 highest peaks in Ireland and it's a challenge I've been picking away at slowly but surely, so I thought it might be a good basis to start sharing some of my tips for other walkers. Obviously with Covid and staycations, hillwalking as seen a real upsurge in popularity which is amazing, but some of our hills are less accessible than others and I'm a firm believe of 'knowledge is power' so the more I know about a hill before I go, the better prepared I can be. So here I'll share my tips with you my virtual fam and bring you along with me on my jollies!
So Truskmore - Sligo's highest peak and, on one of it's ridges, it shares Leitrim's highest point. So if you, like me are working your way through the 32 you can get two for the price of one!
There are numerous ways to ascend Truskmore. I am a hill walker but I wouldn't say I'm a pro on the hills, so I always try and take the route whereby I feel the safest. I know this might not appeal to some people but trust me, I've been on a mountain feeling entirely exposed to the elements and it's not a nice place to be. Things can take a turn for the worse on the mountains very quickly, and the consequences are much greater than they would be at sea level. (rant over!).
We started from the Eagle's Rock car park, just off the R280 in Glenade, about 7km south of Kinlough. It's all sign posted and on google maps so easily enough found. From here there is a farm track that is easy to follow unto a certain point - after that it's a case of finding your own route.
The first part is a nice gradual climb over stony track but as you get closer toward the face of the mountain it gets a bit steeper. Nothing insurmountable and totally doable with a reasonable level of fitness. The views back over Glanade Lough and the valleys below is phenomenal. When I was reading up on Truskmore, I had read a lot of negatives - I have to say I feel like it gets a hard press. The views over Sligo are never dull - you get mountains, ocean, lakes, green valleys and if you're lucky blue skies!
Once you lose the track, the route up is a bit tougher going. You can see the RTÉ television mast so it's a good marker to make a beeline to. The ground is quite hummocky and grass is longer, so it does require a bit more effort but don't let that deter you. I would air on the side of caution to walking this route if the mist is down and visibility poor - there are a lot of bog holes and a few deep swallow holes which could prove disastrous. It's a fairly slow, steady ascent until the last few 100m - then you are ascending the last steep peak. The terrain is quite rocky underfoot and a bit of scrambling is involved but all good fun!
Once you appear over the top of that last peak, you expect a clear summit point but unfortunately there's no clear trig point/cairn to mark the occasion! The television mast it is! However, the views out over Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal well and truly make up for it. If you pass round the far side of the mast, the views of the Glenarrif horseshoe is stunning. Honestly, took my breath away. There are so many layers, and complexity of the details in the landscape is mind-blowing. The size of the rocks and sheer drops never cease to humble me and remind me that we are only on this earth for such a split second. Rocks that have been there for 100s of millions years and we're only here for a snippet of it.
We stopped and had lunch looking out over Strandhill and Mullaghmore head before a big shower came in and moved us along! As you’re heading off the mountain, keep to the right of the ridge and you might come across a tiny cairn…this is Truskmore South East Cairn and is the highest point in Leitrim!…I mean it’s a bit underwhelming as cairns go but it’d be a shame to miss it when you’re up 😊
We had toyed with the idea of heading over to Tievebaun on the way down but the impending clouds behind us, and knowing the ground we decided to give it a miss and come back another day!
Overall, it took us 4 hours up and down but we did dally at the top for the views and a decent lunch so I've no doubt it can be done quicker but sure where's the enjoyment in that?! Decent boots are absolutely required, the feet will be soaked otherwise. Aside from that, dress accordingly with waterproofs and layers as a minimum, and always carry a first aid kit in case you are in diffs. Always better to be looking at it, than looking for it! 😉