Walk for the weekend: Contrasting views around Kenmare Bay

Knocknagorraveela, Kenmare, Co Kerry: lush vegetation with a harsh landscape of cliff, contorted rock and bog

Cnoc na gCorrmhiolta (The Hill of the Midges) hasn't a very prepossessing title but you would miss out on a good day's walk above the inner reaches of Kenmare Bay if you bypassed it for that reason.

The climate and the geology around Kenmare has led to distinct ecosystems. The lower slopes are endowed with lush vegetation while the upper slopes are a harsh landscape of cliff, contorted rock, bog and, that most irritating of surfaces, clumps of long grass, which I could have avoided if I had been more alert.

At the fork where you park, take the road on the left which leads up to a col giving access to the Bonane Valley. It has the advantage of giving you a bit of height before you take to the rough ground. It is a most pleasant walk on a narrow road shaded by trees before it leads on to the open mountainside. Near the top of the col look out for a stile and, once across, drop down to the track beside the stream in Commeen Lackabane which gives easy access to the ridge.

Contrasting views

Contour along the crest until you come to Spot Height 484m all the while enjoying the contrasting views of the cliff-encircled Cummer Lough and the lush Kenmare lowlands; while across the sparkling waters of the bay the land rises in a series of ridges to the Macgillicuddy Reeks. Surely a view to be savoured before heading southwest across the bog for a kilometre to the summit of Knocknagorraveela (507m) which is a rather undistinguished peak but if you continue past the summit you will find yourself perched over the superb Gleninchiquin at the head of which is the coom containing Cummeenadillure Lough. The floor of the glen is largely occupied by Lake Inchiquin and the Clonee Lakes which are as fine a group of lakes as any in this region.


I then made what I thought was a clever decision to regain the Cummer Lough Ridge by contouring around to the north of Knocknagorraveela and thus save some time. I should know better. I had to plough through clumps of tall grass which hid both rocks and bog holes, and sheer stubbornness kept me going on the assumption that the ground would improve which it didn’t. So, my advice to you now if you ever tackle this mountain is, having inspected Glen Inchequin, return to Spot Height 484m via Knocknagorraveela.

Then continue northwest towards Derrysallagh (410m). Keep on the north side of the fence that runs along the ridge as this will save you having to cross the fences which meet it at right angles. The combination of evening light and cloud-shaded slopes gave a rather exotic prospect to the mountains of Iveragh, which enhanced the walk down to one of the metal stiles of the Beara Way. The remainder of the walk follows this popular way-marked track back to the fork in the road. Way-marked it may be but it still requires care on the steeper ground as the track is quite muddy and slippery.

Knocknagorraveela, Kenmare, Co Kerry

Map: Ordnance Survey. Discovery Series. Sheet 85

Start & finish: A fork in a third-class road which leads off the R571 Kenmare to Castletown Bearhaven Road. Grid Reference: 889 664

How to get there: There is a turn off the R571, 1.3km from the bridge in Kenmare. It is signposted for the Beara Way. Follow the signs for the Beara Way until you come to the fork where the Beara Way follows both roads.

Time: Five hours

Distance: 15km

Total ascent: 712m

Suitability: Moderate. Rain gear, boots, map & compass required

Food & accommodation: Kenmare