The route through counties Leitrim and Sligo is pretty quick and flat, with the exception of the Gleniff Horseshoe, a 10km diversion that takes you up and inside the horseshoe-shaped end of a glacial valley. The mountain scenery is spectacular and offers a view of the giant mouth of Diarmuid and Grainne’s Cave by the Cliffs of Annacuna, 300m above the valley floor.
A signpost tells you this is Yeats’ country, and indeed Yeats is buried in the churchyard of Saint Columba on the route on the way to Sligo. Whilst he never lived here, he visited many times and it inspired his poetry.
The rest of the route is gentle and passes through enough towns to enable supplies to be topped-up easily.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
William Butler Yeats