I’ve been mesmerised by the views of the Glencar Lake, laying in the middle of a hushed valley, for a very long time. I was drawn in by its serenity, and I loved how on a cloudless day, you can watch sunbeams touch the valley and the peaks of rolling hills.
One place to see the lake in its full glory from the bird’s eye view can be done by going on a hike known as The Devils Chimney or by its other name in Irish – “Sruth in Agaidh an Aird” meaning the stream against the height.
The path is only 1.2 km in length and the walk to the various viewpoints to witness thundering splashes of water, and the rainbow-causing mist doesn’t take longer than an hour.
We accomplished our first hike in late spring under the cover of brooding rain clouds. The range of colours and tones bouncing off the sky and blooming ground was incredible to see and photograph, yet the sought out views over the vast waters of Glencar lake were non-existent.
The joys of living nearby meant that we were able to return when weather conditions looked more promising. On our second visit which took place in the middle of summer was more fruitful; the air was pungent with the fragrance of wildflowers, and hardly a breeze stirred the leaves as we approached the viewpoint and the only sound was the rushing sound of the waterfall.
We happily sat on a wooden bench, admiring the view over the glimmering Glencar Lake knowing that we’ll never tire of visiting this incredible spectacle of nature and ingenuity.
Why you need to visit Devils Chimney Waterfall
Some places in this world can build a lasting impression on you, and Ireland’s highest waterfall, standing proudly at 492 feet (150m) is one of them. Besides the waterfall this particular walk combines a bit of everything – fantastic views over the Swiss Valley, moss-covered trees, red squirrels, shimmering lake, and grazing donkeys.
Escaping the stress and drama of the modern world, going for a revitalizing walk, and tilting your head up to see the awe-inspiring cascade, is a fantastic way to appreciate nature.
Devils Chimney is a genuinely attractive waterfall and a perfect place to visit when the Irish weather isn’t corporative. The forest trail provides shelter from the rain, and the gushing silvery curtains will be even more impressive. And last but not least; being in nature, away from over-developed areas, is good for your mind, body, and soul too. You’ll feel more energized, inspired, and content with your life.
One of the unique parts about the waterfall – when the wind blows from the southwest the waterfall is pushed upward and back over the cliff from which it cascades.
Quick facts about the trail
The beautiful path leading up to the waterfall is relatively new and was developed by landowners Fiona and Mark Magennis working together with Sligo County Council. Old railway sleepers brought from Poland were used to construct the walkways that brings you straight into beautiful woodland where beside the beech, oak, and ash trees you’ll also find thousand years old Yew trees.
Upon arrival, park your car and make your way through the kissing gate. Follow a path waymarked with little red arrows through a forest full of wild things to the impressive waterfall that plunges into a mossy niche from a rocky headland.
The trail is moderately demanding, climbs gently, and is suitable pretty much for everyone, young families, and senior citizens including. Don’t bring the buggy, coming closer to the waterfall, the trail narrows significantly, and you won’t be able to manoeuvre through it. The trail is scattered with many spots to take breaks, so don’t rush, enjoy and savour every meter of the path.
How to get to Devils Chimney Waterfall
Devils Chimney is located 12km from Sligo town and to get there; you need to take the N16 Manorhamilton Road. After around 8 km turn left at the Glencar Waterfall sign. Yes, it may sound confusing, but there is another waterfall in the area of which I will mention in the post too.
The drive from Sligo town to the waterfall is amazing in itself. Once you leave the main road behind and turn into a single lane country road, it brings you closer to the Glencar Lake and plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure you keep your camera ready.
There is no public transport that can take you to the waterfall, and some of your options are driving and cycling to the waterfall. You can also get in touch with Sligo Tours which specialises in privately tailored tours around County Sligo. One of their top tours is called The Lakes Tour and lets you visit Glencar, Colgagh, Gill, Bo, Arrow, Labe and Acree Lakes.
Know before you go
If you have a burning desire to visit Irelands highest waterfall, there are a couple of things you need to know before you go. Planning and preparing for a trip, no matter how small or big can make your journey more enjoyable. If you are only coming to see the waterfall, you can easily see it from the road if there’s a decent torrent of water or not.
Waterfall | Nothing can be more frustrating than anticipating a trip to the waterfall only to arrive and to find it’s not there. To avoid disappointment, keep an eye on a weather forecast and keep in mind that the waterfall won’t be there during the dry weather conditions.
Entrance fee | There is no charge to visit the waterfall and the trail is opened all year round, except for 24th of December.
Suggested gear | Bring sturdy walking shoes with a good grip, plenty of water, snacks, and a rain jacket.
Flora and fauna | Devils Chimney and the surrounding landscape is a joy to explore for nature lovers. The dramatic cliff face is home to ravens and eagles. Glencar Lake has a resident stock of small brown trout and the land is dotted with Yellow Iris.
Parking | Parking is on the side of the rather narrow road with enough space for roughly 4 – 5 cars at a time. During the busy summer weekends, it can be challenging to find a spot, that’s why it’s good to visit the waterfall early in the day or in the late afternoon.
The trail | The path to the waterfall is well maintained and well-marked, but the waterfall isn’t. There are no signs along the way coming from Sligo, so you have to drive towards Glencar waterfall and you have to keep your eyes glued for the tiny car park.
When to visit | From late spring to early autumn. Other times are possible if you don’t mind frequent rain showers and moody weather conditions.
What to see and do nearby
County Leitrim and County Sligo share the Glencar Valley, and there are a couple of amazing places you can add on your itinerary, time and weather permitting. This is the land that inspired Ireland’s famous poet WB Yeats and as he wrote in Stolen Child: “Where the wandering water gushes From the hills above Glencar.”
# Glencar Waterfall
Believe it or not, but further up the road, when you cross the invisible border and enter Country Leitrim, is yet another beautiful waterfall – Glencar Waterfall. No two waterfalls are the same; if you are in the area it’s easy to combine visiting both of them.
The nearby car park provides space for your transport and typical Irish countryside views with fields stretching like a green quilt as far as eyes can see. Don’t worry; you don’t have to gear up to see this waterfall, you can easily walk up to it.
Recently added tea room and gift shop lets you fill up on freshly baked scones, sandwiches and coffee. If you are travelling with the young ones, they’ll enjoy kids playground while you wait for food.
# Celtic Trinity Knot
If you are heading back to Sligo town, make sure you take Manorhamiltown road from where you would be able to see the beautiful Celtic Trinity Knot. Jim McCabe and his family planted this Trinity Knot, best viewed in the autumn when the Japanese Larch trees and Sitka Spruce change colour, in the 1980s. It is located on the slopes of Tomór mountain and you can easily park the car on a layby and take in the views.
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Now, over to you!
Have you ever been to Devils Chimney or Glencar Waterwall? Let us know in the comments!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Sligo and have travel-related questions!