A fantastic walk of the weekend: exploring ireland’s highest waterfall

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.

Nestled at the foot of Kings Mountain, Glencar Lough  is a freshwater lake in the northwest of Ireland.

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.

The views over the lake are stunning at any time of the year.

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.

Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll be face to face with the beautiful waterfall.

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.

One of the viewpoints along the way.

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.

Devils Chimney Waterfall, Sligo, Ireland.

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.

Taking in the steep valley sides and the shimmering Glencar Lake from the Devils Chimney Trail.

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.

Yeats poem “The Stolen Child,” was about the Glencar Waterfall.

# 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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Last winter, we were delighted to see some snow.

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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!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

78 thoughts on “A fantastic walk of the weekend: exploring ireland’s highest waterfall

    1. Thank you very much. We love exploring the landscape surrounding Glencar Lake. There is no charge to visit Devils Chimney, and the hike to the falls area is absolutely gorgeous. Parking at the bottom of the trail can be challenging; but, if finding a space, don’t hesitate to hike the trail, and hope to see some waterfalls! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thank you very much. I hope you get to visit Sligo and see its beauty one day. The view from the top of Devils Chimney is well worth the walk, and we could not recommend more. Parking is limited, but the views and location are lovely, so worth a stop in any weather. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day. Aiva

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    1. Thank you kindly. If your heading for Glencar Waterfall this is on the way, but you have to keep an eye out for it because it’s not very well sign posted. There are always donkeys in the field beside road and, we enjoy feeding organic carrots to them whenever we visit. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. The walk is relatively short and makes it perfect for families with kids. The trail loops around the waterfall and takes you to the various viewpoints. It’s best to go on a day wind from the southwest. Seeing how the wind blows most of the water upwards in a sight to behold. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thank you very much. While you have to be lucky, and will only see the cascading water after significant rain, this is location is still very well worth to visit. The waterfall is off the beaten path, and the trail leading to Devil’s Chimney offers many views over the valley. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Have never been there, but now I want to go. Love the idea for a giant Trinity Knot. I hear you on the disappearing waterfalls. We did a tour in the Tablelands of Australia to see the waterfalls, which during the dry looked like dripping faucets. Hope all is well. Have a great week. Allan

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    1. Hi, Allan and Happy Birthday to you. Hope your special day brings you all that your heart desires! Here’s wishing you a day full of pleasant surprises!

      Waterfalls are a source of endless fascination, and we are delighted to have two of them nearby. The views over the lake and the valley are nothing short of amazing, and if you are taking a trip to Sligo, this is definitely a must-do.

      We are doing well, thank you. Waiting for the lockdown to end so we can see friends and family again. The weather is unusually warm and sunny, and we are going surfing after work. Have a lovely day. Aiva

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  2. It looks like a beautiful place. That trinity knot is really cool too, I’ve never seen something like that before but love the idea of it! I’m sure it’s cool to see throughout the seasons.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jason. Devils Chimney is located down the road from the more-publicized Glencar Falls and is a much more impressive site. An uphill hike will bring you through a beautiful wooded slope scattered with grazing sheep and donkeys to the waterfall. As for the Celtic Trinity Knot; I love this piece of woodland art from Sligo and stop to marvel at it every time we are in the area. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. I hope all is well. Aiva

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  3. Another place I have to visit now! My notebook is fast filling up with trails and walks. Thank you for another lovely post with stunning photos. And thanks for linking the Yeats poem to something beautiful when I’ve recently been thinking of The Second Coming a much darker poem and which I linked to the US election.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Maris. Yeats is one of my favourite Irish poets. So you can imagine how exciting it is for me to live and explore the backyard that inspired him to write. The Second Coming has often been a touchstone in times of chaos and has also been disassembled into its constituent parts by books, albums, movies, TV shows, comic books, computer games, political speeches and newspaper editorials. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much, Maggie. The waterfall itself isn’t as impressive as the views over the quiet valley where the Glencar Lake glistens. We are so fortunate to have it on our doorstep, and we often visit this part of Sligo to get away from the modern world drama. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Glencar Lake and the tranquil valley where it is located in is nothing short of stunning. It is a beautiful area, both lake, and waterfalls and unspoiled by tourists. Glencar Waterfall is also famous for being an inspiration to Ireland’s greatest poet William Butler Yeats. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much, Maris. Time and time again we are amazed by how beauty there is within Sligo. it seems crazy that we used to go to such lengths to travel halfway across the globe without giving our backyards a second glance. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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  4. That lake is a stunning cerulean blue– almost unbelievable that such a color exists naturally in real life! Glencar Waterfall looks incredibly lush, almost silky. ❤ And I agree that it makes a huge difference in the time you go to visit waterfalls; I visited one in Los Angeles in the summer, hiking some just to get a dried-up trickle in the end! Lovely views, and thanks for the share, Aiva!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Rebecca. The lake is stunning throughout the year and we were delighted to finally see it last winter under a fresh coat of snow. It was a day to remember in years to come. Exploring waterfalls and wild scenic places right here in Sligo kept us sane during this crazy year. Three more weeks left until the strict level five lockdown comes to en end in Ireland. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see our families for Christmas. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly. Devils Chimney is one of those places that we like to see as the seasons change. You brought up a very good point. After two decades of living in Ireland, none of us speaks Irish, but we might need to begin at least the basics of the language because Ericeira starts school next year. And Irish is taught at school, and you have to do homework. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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  5. Aiva, the pictures are beautiful and your article is well written and insightful. You have used the perfect words to describe your trip. We had planned a trip to Scotland and Ireland this year before COVID. We are definitely going once everything returns to normal. Thank you and take care. Scott

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Scott, how are you today? I hope you get to fulfil your travel dreams to visit Scotland and Ireland one day when it’s safe to do so. Our last trip abroad seems like a distant memory and I really hope we can start travelling again next yer. I don’t even want anything fancy. A trip to Latvia to see our family and friends would be a dream come true moment. Fingers crossed. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my, every time I read one of your posts and see your beautiful pictures it just feeds my wanderlust and puts Ireland always a bit higher in my bucket list (and it was already quite high!) 😍 Given how close it is compared to my other top bucket-list destinations, it might even be one of the first countries I’ll visit after this pandemic.. who knows! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Juliette. Glencar Lake and two of the nearby waterfalls is one of our happy places, where we keep on returning. Due to recent travel restrictions, the stunning valley is out of our reach, and that’s why we are so eagerly waiting for the current level five lockdown to come to en end. Fingers crossed we can have a peaceful festive season. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Glenys. Travelling as a family brings you closer together. Kids grow up fast these days, getting more and more independent by the second, so making the most of these shared moments is vital. Thanks for reading and have a good day. I hope all is well. Aiva

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    1. Thank you kindly, Francisco. Spending time in natural environments can benefit health and well-being. What you are seeing, hearing, experiencing at any moment is changing not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working. That’s why we make sure to be outdoors and often as possible, even when the weather isn’t cooperating. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jo. The tranquil trail leading to the waterfall always makes me forget about everything that’s going on in the world right now. I like to find a quiet spot under a tree and take a moment to be still among the sights, scents and sounds of nature. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. I hope it’s nice and sunny in Sout of Portugal. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much, Reena. I know what you mean, my travel wish list has reached new heights this year. I really hope we can start travelling because it’s been too long now. Have a good day and thanks fro stopping by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You are so lucky to live in a such beautiful country! The lake, the waterfalls, the valley and the greenery are mesmerizing. The valley of the Glencar lake reminds me of the beautiful Colca Canyon from Peru. One of the best😊
    And your little one is such a cutie!!
    Have an amazing weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Christie. For such a long time we preferred to explore other European countries and always wanted to run away from Ireland. And if there’s one thing we learned due to the recent pandemic – there’s plenty to explore without crossing a border – you just have to look at things a little differently. Thanks for reading and have a good week ahead. It’s lashing rain in Sligo, and we are staying cosy b the fire. Aiva xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, we always did that too, looking for faraway destinations, when there are hidden gems right beside us🙂 Weather is changing here too, we’ve had a storm yesterday. Stay safe!
        xxx

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  8. Gorgeous views. It is so beautiful where you live. We have a desert waterfall here that only runs during the rainy season but as of late we have not had rain for over 3 months now. The hike is called Waterfall trail and it is in the White tank mountains of Arizona. It is paved most of the way so strollers, wheelchairs and all levels can walk it. But once you get closer to the waterfall it goes off trail and it because slippery and dangerous so experienced hikers only for that part. It is such a pretty site to see a waterfall in a desert setting. There are petroglyphs all over the trail too. Ireland is such a beautiful country, thanks for sharing.

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    1. You live in such a beautiful part of the world, too. I am so used to seeing fifty shades of green here in Ireland that I wouldn’t mind seeing its deep canyons, high- and low-elevation deserts, numerous natural rock formations, and volcanic mountain ranges. But until we are allowed to travel anywhere, we are more than happy to spend time exploring Sligo. One of the reasons why I love travelling within our backyard- it enables me to go much slower than I used to. And when I look back, I have to say that our best travel stories have always originated on longer trips and more intense encounters with local people. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a good day. Today we are going to celebrate my husbands Birthday and eat all the cake we can. Sending you lots of love and virtual hugs. Aiva xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Grace. we don’t often get to go on a proper hike with a four-year-old toddler. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this crazy year – you don’t have to travel far to have a memorable experince. Just being together with family and visiting waterfalls in Sligo makes my heart full. Thnks so much for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva xxx

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    1. While I do miss the hustle and bustle of exploring a different country and immersing myself if a foreign culture I equally love our backyard. I’m fortunate enough to call Ireland my backyard, a country that’s constantly been named as a top travel destination by every travel magazine out there. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much, Kery! Next time you are visiting your relatives in Mullaghmore, you have to go for a drive around County Sligo. There are so many beautiful places to see! I really hope you get to come over one day, it would be amazing to meet you in person. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much. Exploring our country means we spend less time on the road and more time being in nature. Although I miss travelling around the world, Ireland has been a warm and welcoming place for me and my family. Couldn’t be more grateful to live here. Thanks so much for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Despite the travel restrictions, we’ve been blessed to spend a lot of time outdoors recently, which has been especially healing. Living in close proximity to various waterfalls and beaches is what kept us sane during the pandemic. Have a good day, Frank

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m just blog hopping and I came across this post. First, your daughter (I’m assuming) is absolutely adorable! Are you all from Latvia? That is what caught my eye. My mother was born there in 1944. She is no longer alive and neither are the rest of her family. Your photos are beautiful. Good advice about visiting the waterfall during a dry season. From a tourist’s view you may not know to think of something like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Yes, we are from Latvia and had been living in Ireland for nearly two decades now. Our daughter Ericeira was born in Dublin, so she’s half Irish, half Latvian.

      Do you remember where your mum was born in Latvia? Have you ever been there to see where she grew up? Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thank you very much. Over the years, I’ve seen the waterfall going backwards, and it’s a sight to behold. Can’t wait for travel restrictions to end so we can return to the scenic valley. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Hi, April, how are you today? Yes, that little one is ours, and we take her on all the adventures around Sligo. Devils Chimney is a perfect walk for those who are travelling with small children because the trail is very yet albeit very scenic. And you get to see the donkeys along the way, too. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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