SeaTrails is a new initative that has recently begun in Sligo, founded by a Sligo-based maritime archaeologist, Auriel Robinson. Seatrails offer a range of guided tours throughout Sligo, focusing on the history, geology and archaeology of the landscape we are so familiar with.
(Excuse my unashamed use of phone photos throughout this post).
On Saturday, we assembled at 8.15am, by the canon on the Strandhill promenade. The wind coming in from the ocean certainly banished the sleep from our eyes, and we were eager to get moving to warm ourselves up! Auriel began with a brief history of Strandhill village. Where the popular Shells café and Voya seaweed baths now stand, there was once nothing but sand dunes here, until the close of the 18th century.
We made our way down to the main beach. Along the way we heard about the coastal erosion of the beach, and spied for fossils amongst the rocks on the shore, relics of the 350 million year old sea bed from which they came. Auriel then guided us into the dunes of Strandhill, down to the Shelly 'valley', a large area amongst the dunes, sheltered from the wind, with millions of shells underfoot, blown down from the grasses of the dunes, that serve as a rich food source for all sorts of wildlife.
Auriel transported us back to the Ice Age, where in the shadow of Knocknarea, we learnt about how the landscape was forever altered by the path of glaciers. Our (Paleolithic) hunter-gatherer ancestors settled here for the rich sources of trout and shellfish. As they lived in huts, little evidence of how they lived day-to-day survives. Dotted along the mountains that surround Sligo, are the highest concentration of megalithic tombs in the world, and the second oldest megalithic tomb in Europe. There's was so much to take in that I couldn't repeat it all verbatim, you'd have to be there!
Photo via Shells Cafe
At 9.30am we returned for a 'walkers' breakfast at Shells Cafe, there was home made scones, jams, muesli, and orange juice served with freshly brewed coffee.
SeaTrails offers locals and tourists the opportunity to lean more about the nature and archaeology of the environment which we co-habit with hundreds of wildlife. Learning why certain things are the way they are in our landscape, from such an educated and enthusiastic guide was a great start to the long weekend. SeaTrails have a whole range of tours around Sligo, and also take group bookings. Visit their website to find out more.
Afterward we popped into the Sligo Farmer's Market, which also runs on Saturday, selling fresh and organic produce for your Saturday and Sunday lunches!