Walk for the Weekend: Take the path of mythical lovers

Seefin circuit, in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry offers spectacular scenery and folklore

Lough Caragh, with Carrig Country House in the foreground.

Lough Caragh, with Carrig Country House in the foreground.

 

Seefin, (Sui Fionn, Seat of Fionn), which dominates the village of Glenbeigh, overlooks one of Kerry’s finest lakes on its eastern side. This is Lough Caragh, the second largest lake in a county famous for the number and variety of these most attractive of landscape features. It covers an area of 4.9sq km, more than 1.5km at its widest point, is 5km long and lies under the western peaks of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks from which rain water and melt waters drain into it. As a result it is a mighty cold body of water and it would take a hardy person to swim in it.

Its northern shores are less than a kilometre from the Ring of Kerry road but is unseen by the occupants of the hundreds of coaches and cars that pass by. A narrow road runs along the western shore giving access to those who like to wander on “roads less travelled”. If for no other reason, an ascent of Seefin (493m) is worthwhile for the view it gives of this slice of a hidden Kerry.

The route to the summit is quite straightforward with a track leading up on to the northeastern shoulder. As you get higher the ground is covered in a scree of old red sandstone.

The view from the summit is superb in every direction. From Lough Caragh and its surroundings, across the head of Dingle Bay to the Slieve Mish massif and to the south there is the crescent of the Glenbeigh Mountains with their slopes sculpted into deep cooms by glacial action. The summit of Drung (640m), the first elegant peak on the ridge was a centre for pilgrimages, fairs and assemblies in prehistoric and medieval times.

Encompassed by the uplands is Gleann Beithe, (The Valley of the Birches). This valley is steeped in mythology. A cave there is said to be the first hiding place of Diarmuid and Gráinne on their seven-year flight from Fionn mac Cumhaill.

While the errant couple hid in the valleys, Fionn obviously took to the hilltops to spot them as there are six peaks named Seefin around the country. These are in the Wicklow, Comeragh, Ballyhoura, Boggeragh, Kerry and Sheep’s Head Mountains.

Peeping out from behind Rossbehy Hill on the far side of the valley you can see the end of Rossbeigh beach, which is reputed to be the departure point for Oisín and Niamh Chinn Óir as they took to the sea on their white horse bound for Tír na nÓg.

Continuing the traverse, the temptation is to follow the fence down to Windy Gap. The middle section is boggy and can be very wet, however, and unless there has been a particularly dry spell it is best to keep a short distance to the right. Once past this patch use the fence as your guide until you have to negotiate the rocky slope down to Windy Gap, from where a track leads back to the start. The going is easy on this 5km which gives you a chance to really appreciate the splendid lake below you.

Seefin, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry

Map: Ordnance Survey. Discovery Series. Sheet 78

Start & Finish: At a crossroads off the N70 north of Glenbeigh. Grid Reference. 703 911

How to get there: Go left 2km north of Glenbeigh. Park at a wide crossroads 1km along this road.

Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 9km.

Ascent: 400m

Suitability: Easy. Boots, rain gear, map and compass required.

Food & accommodation: Glenbeigh.

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