Go walk: Coomasaharn Horseshoe walk, Co Kerry

Well worth the challenge: this trail, along the Ring of Kerry, has a wealth of contrasting views

Mighty views along the  Coomasaharn Horseshoe route in  Co Kerry

Mighty views along the Coomasaharn Horseshoe route in Co Kerry

 

Coomasaharn Horseshoe walk, Co Kerry

Map: Ordnance Survey. Discovery Series, sheets 78 and 83.
Start: At a crossroads of third class roads on north side of Seefin, grid ref: 703911
Finish: On a layby on the N70 at Mountain Stage, 6km southwest of Glenbeigh, grid ref: 616 889.
Get there: From Kilorglin, take the first left after the narrow bridge on the Caragh river. From Glenbeigh take the first right when heading for Kilorglin.
Time: 10 hours.
Distance: 24km.
Total ascent: 1,500m.
Suitability: Difficult

During the long days of summer, the thoughts of hillwalkers turn towards the long ridge walks in their favourite mountain ranges. They are all challenging in varying ways, but if you are reasonably fit they provide a great day out and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

One of my favourites is the Coomasaharn horseshoe near Glenbeigh on the Ring of Kerry as it ticks all the right boxes for me: a wealth of contrasting views, no rocky paths to tire the ankles, no arêtes to scramble across (once an essential requirement but now rendered irksome with the advancing years), and it is “far from the madding crowds”.

From the crossroads a track zig zags up the lower slopes of Seefin (493m) on to a spur, which leads to the scree-clad summit. Below, a view of Caragh Lake with its backdrop of the mighty western reeks, opens up; while to the north lies Castlemaine Harbour, bounded by Inch beach and the mountains of the Dingle peninsula.

The stretch from Seefin to Beenreagh (495m) is marked by seven unnamed minor peaks and apart from the drop down to Windy Gap and the consequent pull up to spot height 414m, there is very little ascent and descent while a fence which runs along the top of the ridge helps make navigation straightforward. Indeed, you will be following a fence around most of the route.

The views on all sides are noble, with fine valleys beneath you; Gleann Beithe on your right and Gleann Charthaigh on your left, beyond which is outlined the great ridge of Iveragh which runs from Carrauntoohil all the way to Caherdaniel.

The col between Beenreagh and Macklaun (607m) consists of a maze of peat banks with pools and soft patches between them. A bit of careful route-finding will get you through without getting your boots wet.

Your reward for getting to Macklaun is a sweeping view south to Ballinskelligs Bay and the Skelligs but you are then quickly absorbed by the spectacle closer to hand. You are poised at the southern end of the horseshoe which is a singular delight as it curves around six cooms with their characteristic cliffs, soaring rock buttresses, sharp arêtes and glittering tarns.

Continue along the top of the cliffs taking in the summits of Meenteog (715m), Coomacarrea (772m), Teermoyle (760m), and Mullaghnarakill (665m).

Leave out the summit of Been Hill as it is just a mass of peat banks and continue on to Beenmore (660m) and then across to Drung (640m) where you will be perched high over Dingle Bay looking down on the gleaming sands of Inch and Rossbeigh while the dropping sun turns the surrounding peaks to gold. It’s small wonder that the ancients regarded this as a sacred site.

Take a bearing on the cluster of houses at the start of Inch beach for a safe descent down to the Kerry Way and thence to Mountain Stage.

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