Approx. 5km. west of Kinsale town on the R600 cross Duggan’s Bridge and turn left immediately afterwards. Park outside the Dock Pub.
WE pass the Dock Pub on our right and turn right at the gable of the last house in the row, climbing a few stone steps.
Reaching the pathway, we turn left and, after crossing a stile, reach a finger-post indicating James Fort. The path, through wild country, affords panoramic views over the Bandon estuary. Across the water are two piers with fishing boats, fishermen’s’ cottages above them, and higher up, stately Georgian houses. Kinsale marinas are to the right, the town rising behind and, further along, the green mantle of Scilly Woods above the sea.
The walls and ditches alongside the path host numerous wild flowers, a potpourri of smells and colours in spring and summer.
Soon, we see ramparts of James Fort on the right. Earth mounds rather than walls, we can climb them now or enter the fort later via The Drawbridge on the south side. The platform topping the ramparts affords fine views of the town, of Summer Cove village and Charles Fort.
Passing the fort, we enter a large field with a ruined house at the end, a billet for soldiers manning The Blockhouse, built in 1549, on the shore below. Through the arched windows, we look across at Summer Cove and Charles Fort above the sea.
Returning, we head across the field towards the remains of the inner fort. The centre path at the ramparts leads us to the ruins. We pass via The Drawbridge, a stone-faced cutting, to the moat outside. To the left, a bastion blocks our way; we go right, following the moat, and climb a gap in the wall to a path outside. A well-worn track descends diagonally across the field. Before the sea, it turns right through a stile leading onto Jarley’s Cove. We cross the beach and exit onto a path which returns us to the Dock bar. Here, we turn left and keep left, climbing the hill. This road ascends gradually with extensive views over the Bandon and Duggan Bridge. Ignoring a road to the left, we continue to the top, where a path through a graveyard on the right leads to the ruined church of Courtmaher, the ‘mother church’. The De Courcy castle of Ringrone, reduced to a single stalwart gable, stands in the nearby field.
The road descends steeply to a signpost indicating Sandy Cove. We follow the sign, going straight ahead down to Sandy Cove Creek. A stone bridge crosses the creek at a hairpin bend. The road follows the inlet, below us on the left, to the hamlet of Sandy Cove, with a small island, The Pill, across the channel. A road climbs steeply to the right; we take it after exploring the village. Initially, it turns back on itself and then rises steeply, with magnificent views down the coast, past a Napoleonic signal tower to the lighthouse on the Old Head of Kinsale.
We turn right at a T-junction, Ballymacaw Cross Roads, descending steeply, with the R600 on the opposite side of the valley. Trees form a tunnel as we go downhill towards the creek. Arriving at the creek, we retrace our earlier route for a few hundred yards. At the Sandy Cove signpost, we go right, uphill. Here, we turn right toward Kinsale on the R600. Walkers who would prefer a quieter route can return to The Dock via the high road we walked previously. We pass Duggan Bridge and continue down the bay-side road back to the Dock Pub.
Start point: Approx. 5km. west of Kinsale town on the R600 cross Duggan’s Bridge and turn left immediately afterwards. Park outside the Dock Pub.
Time: About 3 hours and 8km long. If Sandy Cove sector is omitted the distance is halved.
Difficulty: moderate, with some hills. Mostly off-road paths and quiet roads but a short, busy stretch of the R600. The grassy paths around the fort are muddy in wet weather.
Map: OS Map No. 87 (Squares 6347, 6348, 6448, 6449)
Slieve Bloom Walking: Aug 26: Source of River Barrow, Grade A, 14km. 5hrs. Clonaslee Community Centre, 11am. Aug 26: Glenbarrow Loop, 10km. 4 hrs. Glenbarrow car park, 2pm.
Great Southern Trail: Aug 26: Heritage Sunday. 2pm guided walk of the Barnagh Tunnel [parking on N21 lay-by 4 miles west of Newcastle West]. 3pm walk/cycle from Barnagh Lay-by 13Km [8 miles] along old railway to Ardagh; 5pm to 6.30pm demonstration of stone crushing by vintage machines; 6.30pm Coach House Travel will provide complimentary return transport to Barnagh lay-by for all walkers requiring same.
Blackrock Hillwalking Club: Aug 26: Club Barbecue, Lough Hyne 12.00 noon.
Skibbereen Walking Club: Aug 26: Sheeps Head: meet at Kilcrohane, 1.45pm.
Shanganagh Ramblers: Aug 26: Carrigshouk/ Mullaghcleevaun/Tonelagee. Meet Brady’s pub, Shankill 10:30am.
Galtee Walking Club: Aug 22: Forest Track, meet Bansha Woods Carr Park, 7pm.
* Map Copyright: Ordnance Survey Ireland/Government of Ireland. Copyright Permit No. MP 0006512
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