ourtmacsherry’s attractions are too many to describe. The walker will find them - the plaque describing the workings of the Timoleague-Courtmacsherry branch railway line; the quaint railway station, now converted into a residence; the route of the railway line, now providing a 5km bayside promenade; Courtmacsherry Pier, its summer craft and fishing boats; Hamilton Row of fine Georgian seaside houses; refurbished Courtmacsherry Hotel and the ancient and beautiful cork oak that graces its front lawn.
Walking east, we turn right and walk uphill at St John’s, a pretty C of I chapel. We pass the neatly restored gate lodge to Kincragie, an ancient estate that has fallen into decay. The rhododendron alongside is 12m tall, and in April blooms in a mass of huge red flowers which later makes a red carpet of fallen blossom leading up the driveway past giant dawn redwoods and exotic trees.
At the first left turn, a pathway between municipal flower beds, we go left, keeping the Kincragie wall on our left, and an estate of Council houses on our right. The path becomes a road which takes us right and then left, past private homes and, after a crossroads, passes between fields. Soon, we find ourselves walking straight downhill with views of the Old Head of Kinsale to our left, and the sea ahead.
We reach Meelmaan, once a fisherman’s hamlet. Some of the cottages still have the distinctive feature of roofs that ‘go with the flow’ of the slope, the right hand gable taller than the left, and the roof like a cocked hat above the frontage.
As we reach the end of the road, a narrow path leads right, between tall hedges, then emerges at a field and follows its margin down to the huge extent of beach that is Broadstrand, laid out below us.
Broadstrand is a popular swimming venue in summer. We walk the length of it; at the farther, western end, the rocky ground towards the sea is the venue for birds of many kinds and colours, grey crows, gulls, dunlin, ringed plover, turnstones, curlew, whimbrel and, sometimes, Bent geese. In winter, Great Northern Divers will be seen offshore.
We negotiate stepping stones across a stream before arriving at concrete steps ascending steeply. At the top, we go straight ahead and soon reach the memorial statue to Courtmacsherry-born Patrick Keohane, an intrepid member of the Antarctic team who searched for and found the frozen bodies of Scott and his companions in November 1912. At the statue, we go right and right again at the next crossroad. After passing elegant Lislee Temple and graveyard, we cross the New Line, as it is called locally, the main Courtmacsherry to Barryroe Road.
A few hundred yards up this side road, we come to a T-junction and a conjoined pair of houses. Originally a Protestant school, they boast the original features of two very large metal net balls on the gateposts. We go right here and, shortly, again cross the New Line to walk down a leafy road passing a mass rock in a shaded dell beside a stream. In such places, fugitive priests said mass and kept the proscribed faith alive during Penal Times, or fugitive teachers taught the old culture at hedge schools.
At the corner below, we go left, ascending a steep hill. At the top, we are back on the Meelmaan road, and go left, retracing our route to Courtmacsherry village and our trailhead.
From Cork, 1 hr. N71 to Bandon; leaving Bandon take R602 (at Water Wheel) for Timoleague; pass beneath Timoleague Abbey and go left on bridge (R601) to Courtmacsherry. Trailhead is the Car Park at the western end of the village, (see map).
Description/Distance: 12 km. 2.5hrs, back roads, field path, beach. Great variety; historic “picture postcard” village, woodland road, hamlet with unique cottages, 1km beach, shore birds, memorial to Antarctic explorer, Mass Rock. Steep road 200m and steps, 50m
DUNGARVAN HILLWALKING CLUB, CO WATERFORD www.dungarvanhillwalking.org
Nov 2: Comeraghs, Grade B, 4-6 hrs, meet TSB Car Park 10am.
Nov 2: Lough Mohra, grade C, 3 hrs, meet TSB Car Park 10am.
BLACKROCK HILLWALKING CLUB, CORK. www.blackrockhillwalkingclub.com
Nov 2: Knockbrinnea to Binn Ciarach, grade A, meet Topaz Filling Station, Killarney 9:30am.
Nov 2: Killworth woods, grade C, circular walk through rifle ranges and woods, 3+ hrs, meet Corbett Hotel 10.30am.
BALLYVAUGHAN FANORE WALKING CLUB, CO CLARE www.ballyvaughanfanorewalkingclub.com
Nov 2: Keepers Hill, Co Tipperary, forestry tracks and woodland trails, 4.5 hrs, asc 550m, meet The Square, Newport, Co Tipperary 10:30am
GALTEE WALKING CLUB, CO. TIPP. www.galteewalkingclub.ie
Nov 2: Loop Walk, meet Rock ‘an Thorabh Car Park, 10am
Nov 2: Blackrock Valley Loop, Grade B, 4 hrs., meet Galtee Castle Car Park, 10am.