Walk for the Weekend: A gentle wander in west Cork

A stroll in the sunshine is always good for the soul and this walk is no exception

A wander in west Cork is always good for the soul and once past Clonakilty, a turn to the left of the N71 will lead you into all sorts of scenic delights on quite rural roads, leading to a coastline indented with bays, coves and harbours. Such is the case with the Myross Peninsula, which lies between the harbours of Glandore and Castle Haven (Castletownsend).

It lies west of Leap (pronounced Lep), so a word of caution before you proceed. There is a saying in this part of the world: “Beyond Leap; Beyond the Law.” Make of that what you will.

From Union Hall, take the Castletownsend road which winds up to Listerkin, where stand the remnants of the Castle of the O’Donovans, who were masters of Glandore from the 13th to the 16th century. Their most famous king was Ivor O’Donovan, of whom more later. Amble on westwards to where the road turns south. There is a view down to the upper reaches of Castle Haven and if you are lucky the tide will be in, adding contrast to a scene of rolling wooded hills. It is said that west Cork was stripped of oak to make ships for the British navy, but this area escaped.

The road south is a delight; lined with coppices of sycamore while stately foxgloves nod underneath. Bunches of long green leaves gave a promise of the montbretia of late summer, which interspersed with the stately spires of purple loosestrife are one of the delights of a west Cork road walk. On the right, beyond meadows filled with buttercups, were views of the outer part of the harbour, its mouth guarded by Horse Island, with the cliffs of Toe Head looming beyond.


Fabled King Ivor

Turn right at the T-junction at the end of the road and keep right at the fork a few hundred metres on where the road runs along the southern shore of Lough Cluhir and here we come back to the fabled King Ivor: a great trader, he had many ships, but his personal barque is said to lie beneath the waters of the lake and rises to the surface every seven years. No doubt if there was a pub in the vicinity, this occurrence would have been witnessed frequently over the years.

From the corner of the lake, turn south to cross Myross Causeway, which is at the head of Blind Harbour, so called, it is said, because it cannot be seen from the sea. Carrying on past the beach at Squince Harbour, the road rises steeply to give good views out to Rabbit Island. To complete the loop, head north through rolling pastures to a turning that is easy to miss. You will notice a large modern house as your guide. Go straight through the next crossroads to take the most easterly road back to Union Hall and its views of Glandore Harbour.

This walk is best done in the cool of the morning when you will meet little or no traffic, (one car passed me), and you will be back in time for lunch in one of the legendary hostelries of Union Hall, Glandore or Castletownsend.

Myross Peninsula, Union Hall, west Co Cork

Start and finish: Union Hall. Grid Reference 207 345
How to get there: Turn left off the N71, Cork-Skibbereen Road, 2km west of the village of Leap
Time: Three hours
Distance: 12km
Total ascent: 285m
Suitability: Easy
Map: OS Discovery Series 1:50,000. Sheet 89