A pastoral paradise


COURTMACSHERRY COAST WALK:While I love the rugged landscape of the west of Ireland, rich rolling countryside also attracts me. There is a soothing quality about a rich pastoral landscape that leaves me relaxed at the end of a ramble. The coast walk at Courtmacsherry has such an effect.

The track starts at the back of the car park and enters a strip of deciduous woodland with the waters of the estuary framed by the trees on one side. The first signs of winter are already present and soon the first frost will turn this stretch into a colourful mosaic and then the first of the winter gales will strip the trees to create a magical tracery against a blue winter sky.

The woodland ends appropriately at Wood Point which overlooks Courtmacsherry Bay, which is bounded by the elegant finger of The Old Head of Kinsale to the east, a dull grey in the morning light, and the more dumpy Seven Heads to the west.

The route now runs south along the edge of a series of large pastures divided into strips by electric fencing. I have never come across a route better provided with stiles; there is one for every electric fence. The path turns inland at Foxes Cove along a grassy laneway known as Fuchsia Walk which a local informed me once provided access to a private golf course long since taken away by erosion.

At the top of the walk you come out on to a third class road, turn left here and then left again down to Melmane, a road that ends abruptly at a cliff but once ran across the bay, probably as a causeway which was reputedly destroyed by the tsunami which occurred after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Cross the beach to a tall boulder clay cliff, beyond which are a series of steps that lead up to the road which is a continuation of the one that ends at Melmane. I’m not sure that this last section would be safe in storm conditions at the top of a high spring tide so check the tide tables. If you start your walk as the tide begins to ebb in Courtmacsherry you won’t have a problem by the time you get here.

On the road at the top of the steps is a newly erected memorial to Anthony Keohane, the “forgotten” Irishman on Scott’s Antarctic expedition. It is a fine piece of work.

Heading south, two grassy boreens head uphill to bring you out at Lackarour, where a sign points left to the Coolim cliffs which are 91m high and well worth an inspection. At the end of the track take the left-hand gate and skirt around the edge of the fields until they are fully visible.

From this point I retraced my steps enjoying the subtle changes wrought by the evening light on the splendid panorama that stretches from The Old Head to Timoleague. As well as the beauty of the walk, the friendliness of the locals and their willingness to share their knowledge of the area left a warm glow.

Map:Ordnance Survey Discovery Series. Sheet 87

Start and finish:The car park at the east end of Courtmacsherry village

How to get there:Turn off the N71, 1km west of Bandon on to R602 Timoleague road. Cross the bridge in Timoleague where the R601 will bring you to Courtmacsherry

Time: Four to five hours

Distance: 16km

Total ascent:150m

Suitability:Route is easy

See sevenheadspeninsula.ie

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