Drimoleague dozen


GO WALK:On one of 12 Cork walks, a little effort yields the most magnificent views, writes TONY DOHERTY

I CAME ACROSS AN excellent guide book recently. The community in Drimoleague in west Cork has developed 12 local walks, some in conjunction with the eastern extension of the Sheep’s Head Way. Its most likeable feature is the detailed social history of the area.

I opted for routes that led me across Mullaghmesha Mountain, which lies to the north of the town. The stile by the car park leads on to a track that brings you to the edge of the plantation, alongside of which runs a deeply incised stream. If you work your way uphill you will find easy crossing places. The vegetation on the slopes is tufts of white grass, which is not my favourite vegetation, especially if the grass is long, thereby concealing the boggy rills underneath. It is a surface on which one should hasten slowly.

Mullaghmesha (494m) is one of those marvellous mountains where, for little effort, you get a most magnificent view. On the summit you feel as if you are standing astride the Sheep’s Head Peninsula like the proverbial Colossus and you look straight down the length of both Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay at the same time. Away to the east, past Roaring Water Bay, stretches the coast of west Cork and it is said that on a clear day you can see as far as the Old Head of Kinsale. I’d say you’d have a better chance on a clear evening when the beam from the lighthouse would be scything through the gloaming.

The mountainscape encompasses most of the peaks of the Caha and Shehy Ranges. The lower hills in the area have a good scattering of wind turbines disrupting the skyline. From the summit, head west towards the fence that runs along below it and then turn south to Lough Agower and Coomanore Lough. These little rock basin lakes are remnants of glacial erosion and they lie poised above the great inlets formed as the ice melted and the sea levels rose.

From the lakes, you link up with the Glanaclogha Walk which leads down to Castledonovan. On the way you’ll come to the ruin of an early 19th century farmhouse built by a character called “George the Sky”. Unusually, for a mountain cottage at this altitude, it had two stories and the luxury of an upstairs fireplace.

This area is known as the Glen of the Stones, due to the large number of glacial perched blocks deposited by the retreating ice sheets and left isolated by the roaring meltwaters which washed away the smaller deposits around them. There is a particularly fine example just beside the track. When I reached Castledonovan bridge, I had a closer look at the nearby 16th century Irish tower house. The collapsed west wall is currently being restored.

The evening sun was hot and I didn’t fancy the walk back up the mountain road so I called to a farmhouse to get the number of a local taxi service and travelled back to my car in comfort.

Way to go man!

Mullaghmesha mountain

Map:Ordnance Survey Discovery Series. Sheet 85. 4th Edition

Start:A stile on a third-class road, 10km north of Drimoleague. Grid Reference: 102 522

Finish:Castledonovan bridge

How to get there:Drimoleague is on the R586, Bandon to Bantry road. Turn left in the village and follow the network of third-class roads northwards past Castledonovan and up into the mountains. The car park is not as indicated on the map but further down the road at the second stile into the forest.

Time:Three to four hours Distance: 10km

Total Ascent:320m

Suitability:Easy. Map, rain gear and boots needed.

Food and accommodation: drimoleaguewalkway.com