Go Walk: a great harbour view in Kinsale
A walk that will set up you up nicely for dinner in Kinsale
To an Irishman, the name Kinsale evokes the memory of the most seminal battle in Irish history. To the visitor, it is a heritage town which has a reputation for gourmet restaurants. If you have over-indulged in the latter, a walk by the sea may be just the tonic you need and there is an excellent one along the north side of the harbour.
The trail head is to the east of the fort. At the water’s edge there is a fine view of the two seaward-facing bastions of this star-shaped fortress. One of the best preserved of its kind, it was completed in 1680 and was occupied until 1922.
On the far side of the harbour you can see the ruins of James’s Fort, which was built in 1607 to deter any further incursions by the Spaniards into Kinsale. It was captured by Williamite Forces in 1690.
The well-made path heads southwards towards Middle Cove which is now occupied by a boatyard but was once a settlement of native Irish seafarers. The path continues on to Lower Cove from where the harbour pilots set out to board ships entering the port channel.
They were kept busy, as apart from its trade in foodstuffs, Kinsale had been designated a wine port in 1412 and there was much traffic between here and Bordeaux with more than a hundred boats engaged in the trade.
From Lower Cove, you can opt to return to Charles Fort via a way marked route on country roads. However, if you are equipped to go off road, keep an eye out for a plank lying across a stream on the right hand side of the road, about 50 metres from the cove.
This leads you on to a narrow muddy path through brambles towards the mouth of the harbour. It is well walked enough to allow you to walk in single file with only the occasional lashing from a thorny branch.
At the end of the path, there is a stretch of furze to be negotiated before you come out on to a large open field. We met a farmer here who was picking the last of his potatoes and he gave us each a supply for our dinner.
A wide track around the edge of the fields leads to a large mound which is a disused army firing range at the end of the headland between Preghane Point and Frower Point.
From here you have a view of the coastline from the entrance to Oysterhaven via the Sovereign Islands to the Old Head of Kinsale; on the day, a bracing scene in a bracing breeze.
To exit the headland, continue on the track past a disused building and turn right on to a pot-holed boreen which leads you back to the road down to Lower Cove and the path back to Charles Fort and the famous Bulman Pub, where you can start the feasting again beside a roaring fire.
Map: OSI Discovery Series. Sheet 87.
Start & finish: The car park at Charles Fort. Grid reference 656495. There is also a car park at the start of the path which is just to the east of the Fort. How to get there: The route up through the town is along a very narrow road and can be slow going at busy times. The easiest approach is to follow the signpost for Charles Fort at the crossroads on the R600, one kilometre east of the town, then take the second left and you will arrive directly at the car park.
Time: Three hours. Distance: 6.5km Total ascent: 100m
Suitability: The route is easy. No special gear is needed but walking boots are recommended. Shorts are not advisable.
Food and accommodation: Kinsale