Go Walk: Coumshingaun, Co Waterford
A demanding but short hike offering majestic views
Waterford’s Coumshingaun circuit overlooks the finest corrie on these islands
Coumshingaun, Co Waterford
Start point: Kilclooney Wood car park is in Co Waterford beside the R676, close to the midpoint between Carrick-on-Suir and Dungarvan
So you want to know the best walk in Ireland? Well, it depends on your preference. If you dream of majestic 360-degree summit vistas, I would recommend Kerry’s Knocknadobar; or Errigal, the Queen of Donegal. For long distance walking with shed loads of history, it’s St Finbarr’s Path in west Cork, while Glenarriff, Co Antrim, or Lough Avalla Loop, Co Clare, are almost unbeatable for families. Then for a demanding but relatively short hike with majestic views throughout, it has to be Waterford’s circuit of Coumshingaun.
To explore this achingly beautiful coum-top circuit overlooking the finest corrie on these islands, begin from Kilclooney car park by taking a woodland path (west) to join a forestry road. Follow this past a deflector mast to reach open mountainside. Now it’s time to puff northwest towards a prominent boulder on the skyline.
Here you will clearly see your objective, the rocky arête rising to the south of Coumshingaun. Gaining this requires a conversation-killing effort, but once established on the rocky ridge top, the scrambling is undemanding.
Afterwards, it’s pleasantly elevated walking above the great gullies that tumble abruptly towards Coumshingaun’s lonesome curl of water far below. Then, one final steepening bars the way and should be taken carefully, particularly in wet or icy conditions as sheer drops yawn hungrily left and right. Once above this hurdle, however, you are safely on the extravagant vastness of the Comeragh plateau.
Here is an ideal place to take in the magnificence of the great amphitheatre and bottle-shaped lake lying almost 400m below. Just above the northwest corner of the lake, your eye will be drawn to a substantial rockfall. Here, fallen boulders have created a large cave system, where it is reputed outlaw William Crotty found a hiding place for his horses. Betrayed and hanged in 1742, his name lives on locally amid intriguing tales that his golden hoard awaits a lucky finder.
On a clear day you can now head about 500m due west across featureless moorland towards the cairn that denotes Fauscoum (792m). This imminence is not named on the OS map, which is surprising since it marks the highest point in the Comeraghs. In any event, it makes a great place to tarry and banquet on superb views over the West Comeraghs, the Knockmealdown Mountains, the Waterford lowlands and the distant sparkle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Having returned directly to the Coumshingaun cliff top, move north and then east along the corrie rim to gain a fine vista over the dramatic north-facing cliffs beloved by generations of Ireland’s most accomplished rock-climbers. The descent from here along the Stookangarriff Ridge, while not difficult, is the most tedious part of the day. The track is heathery, uneven and knee-jarring. You will doubtless be glad to eventually reach easier ground near the lake before crossing the moraines at the mouth of Coumshingaun. Beyond, you will encounter a path that ascends diagonally to the large boulder encountered earlier. Now, it’s a pleasant ramble down to Kilclooney.