The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Carrowkeel-Keshcorran Complex


27/08/2019 – I really wanted to get to Carrowkeel. Looks like it had everything. Quality cairns, high on a hillside in a top location. After seeing rayner’s sunset photos on here a few months back I knew I had to visit.

It was our last day in Sligo so it felt a bit now or never. Unfortunately the weather forecast was grim. We toyed with not going but we’d have got wet anywhere today. Might as well be on a hill with great cairns.

I worried that without a car this one might be tricky to get to. Turned out fine. It’s close to the main road from Sligo to Dublin so there’s a good bus. We caught the 8.00 from Sligo bus station to Castlebaldwin. Didn’t take long and we were walking by 8.30. There’s buses back from here in the afternoon every couple of hours so there was no need to rush. Nice to not have to treat the day like a raid. Worth mentioning the petrol station in Castlebaldwin has a great cafe/shop so ideal for waiting for any bus back to Sligo.

It’s a 3 mile walk from Castlebaldwin to Carrowkeel. Very quiet country roads and more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The rain was pretty terrible. Fell for most of the day. The worst weather day I’ve had out for many a year. No wind which helped and we did stay quite cheery powered up by chocolate and Tayto crisps (I love Taytos, very hard to find in Scotland).

The final approach is a gentle incline up an ever decreasing quality of road. You can drive up to the top. I’d love to know if any TMAers have braved it? There's a newish carpark at the bottom. Much better to start here as the walk up is nice and your car will thank you for it. The landscape here is wonderful and my favourite on our trip. The road takes you between steep limestone ridges. Huge cairns could be seen on the tops through the mist and rain. The road bends back left and then up and around to near the top. From here it’s a short climb to the first of the cairns.

Cairn G – Not the most exciting of names but it’s good, very good. As we approached, it appeared from out of the mist to greet us. The excitement upon seeing the entrance for the first time, nearly too much. We had stepped into a megalithic wonderland. Suddenly the crap weather was working for us and the rain and low clouds created a vibe to the place that was amazing. A feeling of quiet wild loneliness, just us and the cairns on the hillside. Like we had entered a different world. Rucksacks off and a quick shimmy through the entrance, we entered the short passage and then the chamber. Standing up in the high roofed centre, a relief to be away from the rain. Dark but with no need of our headtorches, peacefully away from the outside world, what a contrast! Great chamber and recesses. Loved the orthostats.

Cairn K – After leaving cairn G and having a look at cairn H, we made our way to the high point of the hill and Cairn K. The passage is longer on this one. A bit of a hands and knees job. The cruciform chamber just wow. Great corbelled ceiling. A few cracked lintels so best not to climb the outside.

The rain stopped for a short while so we plonked ourselves down next to K to have our sandwiches. What a place. No views but because of the mist it felt like this cairn filled landscape could have gone on forever. The rain came back hard and though I’d have loved to have explored the hillside more, it felt best to leave it for another time. I was so happy with the day so far, more wasn’t really needed.

We walked back to Castlebaldwin and the bus, very wet but very happy. A great day out and one of my favourite megalithic days ever I think.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
6th September 2019ce
Edited 7th September 2019ce

Comments (6)

These are great notes, I'm reading with interest how you've fared without a car. I really must get across there before long. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
6th September 2019ce
Thanks. You could easy do a week in the Sligo area on public transport. One thing that did strike me was the lack of footpaths. It's a land of farmer's fields and roads at low level. Bike hire might work well on the many quiet country roads for a few sites. The megalithic sites here are top level. Real must see stuff. thelonious Posted by thelonious
6th September 2019ce
Superb notes, ah the don't notice after a few drams :-) drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
6th September 2019ce
Ah well done, that's pretty heroic going in my book with all that rain.

I've driven most of the way once, chickening out at the last dodgy loop and then finding a guy in his camper van in the parking place just below the main cairns.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
6th September 2019ce
Thank you both. Camper van to the top! That's brave.
An amazing area.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
7th September 2019ce
Full respect walking up from Castlebaldwin, I was lucky enough to have good weather and I had such a fabulous day up there exploring I really didn't want to come back down. My favourite site, if there is such a thing, by miles. Posted by costaexpress
7th September 2019ce
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