When I was a kid, visiting Glenlohane from America we always felt that part of the charm was that the farm was in the middle of nowhere. Wild and woolly in Cork! While that is true, one of the main reasons that guests come and stay is our because of our direct access to everything in the Scenic Southwest of Ireland. Our recent guests and new-found friends Mary & Richard emailed us to expound upon the virtues of hiking in the area from our 1600’s cottage. With their permission, I offer insightful excerpts:
Subject: Tourists That Wander
Dear Melanie, Desmond and Gordon,
Firstly, thank you for the delightful cup of tea, yummy cake, and conversation this evening. What a glorious day and then magical light in the evening.
You did ask about the Ballyhoura’s and in response to that I would add the magnificent Galtees to the East. I had hoped we would get there! My experience now after a few extended periods mainly in the West of Ireland is that the further West one is, the easier it is to ‘go wild.’ The good farming country is well and justifiably fenced. Trails in the conifer forestry plantations demonstrate a strong CSR but there is little wildlife, neither plant nor animal to be of interest to a naturalist. (However, we had a thrilling view of a hovering kestrel today as we set out from your cottage gate).
So here are some leads for future trampers who, like Richard and I, get a thrill being out there in the quiet of the glorious countryside. I did in 2011 use a book by Christopher Somerville “Walking in Ireland” (2010) to guide me. He describes 50 walks in the different counties. One loop walk in Tipperary from near Lisvernane. The Dolmen Loop. Easy. Views of the Glen of Aherlow but largely trails through conifer. We did this and were focusing on going back to hill climb in the Galtees but they are high and can be in low cloud and given the short time we are here we did not feel we could source the necessary information to unravel suitable/safe “ways”.
So we started to open the #79, 85, 78 O/S maps. On this point, given how you describe vacuous requests from people, it might be practical to advise them to purchase the O/S maps for their own use…fuel stations and stationery outlets. Duhallow Way Trails are clearly shown as is the Kerry Way. We looked to establish a loop walk that included as little road as possible. There is always going to be some road if you have only one car and have to get back to it. We always took maps with us as well as having mobile pocket Wi-Fi so we could use Google Maps. Most of our walks were three to five hours. We amble. I like to look at the land and birds!
1) SE of Nad, via road 579 parked at Mossy Bed map 80 44/87 East of Boggeragh Mtns, up onto the high bog and followed Duhallow way into Glencam River Valley. Some good hunt jumps in evidence.
2) Your own described walk up Knocknanauss. Gives a meaningful feel for the surrounding area and its wild life.
3) Coolea, West of Ballyvourney, map 79. Can work out a loop/s but new forestry tracks necessitate going out with map to keep sense of where you actually are!
4) Mt. Claragh, Millstreet. Map 79. Lovely climb. We parked by castle ruin near Kilneedy, walked for a short distance along 582 then up marked trail. Good loop.
5) Ballingeary. Map 85. Loop walks north from the town.
6) Kilkeal. Map 85. Park by castle and river. Looped walks as part of the Beara way.
7) Below the Paps. Map 79. Turn off N72 just after Rathmore to the start/finish of Duhallow Way .We loved it, but ALWAYS GO WITH HIKING POLES, as we encountered electric tape across track with curious playful bovines and had to scramble for alternative route. Always go w water, pole, map and phone!
8) Arising from 7) follow old donkey track through Shrone lake valley West of Paps, and back. Easy and beautiful
9) Killarney N P.. Map 78. Lough Acoose from N 72. Kerry Way. Fine weather would allow to progress over two climbs /passes to look into Black Valley. We had low cloud and so did not go “up”. One is below Mts Caher and Carrauntoohil. Only1 1/2 hrs from leaving cottage and setting off.
So there are some suggestions. We did go into Apps Active me and All Trails but sensed that they only have what people have put into them, and eventually we reverted to using the ordinance maps direct.
My favourite valley scenery in the whole of Ireland, from my own experience, is the Kilgarvan – Kilkeal road. But we found another, peeling off after Pass of Keimeineigh near Gougan Barra to head NE up minor road south of 584 by Mt Douce. Glorious Sheehy Mtn country!
So glad to have met you all.