Go Walk: Glengarriff, Co Cork
Take an easy stroll in scenic Cork surroundings
The translation of Glengarriff is the rough or rugged glen, but tucked into a great coom in the Caha mountains to the west of the village is a woodland area, part of a wonderland of sessile oak interspersed with many other species such as rowan, birch, alder, willows and arbutus, the Irish strawberry tree. There are three well-constructed trails within the reserve which merge into one another to make a great few hours walking.
In spring and summer the ground flora provides much interest from the prolific bluebells and ferns to many rarer species which are found only in the south west and in parts of northern Iberia. On a hot summer’s day this woodland is a haven of shade enhanced by the refreshing gurgling of its numerous streams.I find it best to tackle the Esknamucky route first as it gives you views down into the woodland and across to the glittering rocky crests. Head north from the car park and you will come out on to a third class road where there is a small clearing which marks the start of the trail.
There is a short track to the right which will bring you to the waterfall on the Canrooska river, which is a spectacular sight after heavy rain. Retrace your steps to the start of Esknamucky Trail. This is referred to as the High Trail, but don’t let that put you off as it is only three kilometres long, the gradient is gentle for the most part and steps have been inserted along the entire route with railings on the steeper sections. Every so often there are benches on which you can rest and enjoy the contrasting panoramas of bare peaks and the lush arboreal canopy in the basin which they encircle.
When you return to the car park head off on the Glengarriff Woods Trail, which also appears to be called the Big Meadow Trail.
All the while you are close to the Glengarriff river with its dark silent pools linked by rounded boulders down which the waters slide gently. I imagine it would present a much more turbulent surface when torrents cascade down from the hills after prolonged downpours. The ‘Big Meadow’ is rather unkempt which spoils the impact of the magnificent oak trees which dominate the scraggy sward.
Towards the end of this section of the trail you can take a turn up to the right where a series of steps lead to Lady Bantry’s Outlook. The Bantry family owned the woods until they were handed over to the State in 1955. The full extent of the woodland is visible from here, as is the village of Glengarriff with its delightful harbour, and beyond the sparkling waters of Bantry Bay lap the shores of the Sheep’s Head peninsula. With your soul soothed by this splendid setting you can spend the rest of the day surveying the rugged grandeur of the Beara Peninsula.
Map: Ordnance Survey. Discovery Series. Sheet 85.
Start and finish: The entrance to The Glengarriff Nature Reserve. Grid reference 920 567
How to get there: The Nature Reserve is one kilometre west of Glengarriff, on the N71, Bantry to Kenmare Road. There is a car park and picnic area 200 meters inside the entrance.
Time: 3 hours.
Total ascent: 65m
Suitability: Route is easy. No special gear needed but walking boots recommended. Be advised that after heavy rain parts of the car park and the trail can be flooded