|Maeve's Cairn - Knocknarea - Cairn|
The whole purpose of this weekend was to see Knocknarea. Not necessarily climb the mountain, but to see how it fits into the landscape. The truth is it doesn't fit! It stands there and screams at you. You can do nothing but take notice of its magical presence - rising up near to the tip of the peninsular and dominating the sky line. Other mountains form a circle around it, but seem to keep a respectful distance, almost protecting. Only one mountain offers any competition and that is Benbulbin to the north across Sligo Harbour.
We did not have good enough weather to see Knocknarea from Carrowkeel (County Sligo), but as we approached Carrowmore (County Sligo) the weather started to improve and the hill became visible. Wow! We quickly sped to Carrowmore to make the most of the improving weather.
Later in the evening I was to drive around the mountain and look at her from every angle possible on the peninsula - what an ever changing thing it is. Part of its magic, certainly to us modern observers, must derive from the huge cairn on the top - Maeve's Cairn. This cairn still has a near perfect shape (that of a truncated cone) and can be used as a good indicator of what most other passage tombs would have once looked like.
No surprises really, but it started raining after a promising start to the day. We had sat in a cafe in Strandhill and had a coffee and then decided to see what Knocknarea must have looked like from the sea.
We drove to (via one poor random site) Derk on the south side of Sligo Bay, a place almost due west of the mountain, to view it across the surf. What a sight Knocknarea offers. We sat there for a couple of hours chatting and watching the mountain disappear in and out of the clouds and rain. A great experience.
If you want to fully appreciate Knocknarea then this is a wonderful spot to do it from - very quiet. When the weather started to clear I had a wonder around the very rocky beach and found a fossil or two.
Derk beach is at G 577 352.
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The walk to the top is amazing. The landscape changes dramtically as you climb - every few steps brings something new. The top, as well as Maeve's Cairn is dotted with other passage tomb skeletons. A onderous, but windy place ... and very popular. We passed many families both on the way up and on the way down. It's difficult to get the place to yourself, but it's a big place and easy to share!
This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.
Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.
Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.
The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.
UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.
ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.