WE set off from the car park opposite the imposing church. A new bridge, with less character but more strength, carries the N71 over the river just above it. We walk downriver from here.
Opposite, is Kilcoe National School, built in 1897. A large Irish yew, probably as old as the school, spouts through the asphalt in the yard. On the stream, pond skaters dash about the surface on splayed legs. On sunny days, their feet are reflected and magnified as four smudges on the sandy bottom, uncannily like the paw prints of an invisible, underwater dog.
As the road descends following the stream, we are separated from the water by bracken and impenetrable breaks of self-seeded trees, largely willows. The stream gurgles in a deep gully on our left, perhaps roars (hence the name?) when in flood. A road rises steeply to the right as we reach a white house; we pass it and cross the small bridge.
A short distance afterwards, we bear right, following the river. Rounding the corner, we come on an idyllic scene, a wide pool of still, brown water, with an old stone quay splashed with the colours of sea pinks, white scurvy grass and the odd prawn pot in spring. It is a place one could happily dawdle for hours.
We retrace our steps to the house by the bridge and take the road ascending steeply behind it. It’s a pretty, leafy road, with a ruined house above it on the right. The climb is short.
Almost at the top, we find, on the left, an ancient graveyard in which stands the remains of Kilcoe’s 18th century RC church, a single gable, and a few graves marked by Celtic crosses. The ancient church wall is a veritable rock garden, colonised by spleenwort, navelwort, stonecrop, vetches and hard ferns, We top the rise 50 yards along. Mount Gabriel stands dramatically on the skyline ahead. Soon we reach a 4-cross roads and, turning sharp left, we follow the road, ignoring turnings into fields.
Soon, we come to a crossroads where we take the left fork and, descending, enjoy close-up views of Roaringwater Bay. At the end of this road we reach the graveyard and ruined church of Kilcoe. The stone windows are elegant and beautiful, overlooking a rugged and beautiful view. Ruined walls enclose the burial ground, with lines of low, uninscribed gravestones. Overlooking the bay and islands, few resting places can be as sublime as Kilcoe.
Doubling back, we return to the crossroads and go straight through, inland towards the hills. The road rises and falls in gentle dips. This is a mellow West Cork walk, the quiet road, the bogland, the distant hills. Knockaphukeen (’The Fairies’ Mountain’) is almost straight ahead, Mount Gabriel and Mount Corrin off to our left. Topping a rise, we look out on miles of empty hills.
We ignore a road to our left and pass Lisheenacrehig, a few farmhouses by the roadside and, reaching the ‘T’ junction, we take a very sharp right, doubling back towards the sea.
Soon, we reach the N71 again. Turning left, we pass a one-time country post office-shop and, unless we are thirsty, The Cross House pub. Only a hundred yards along are the bridge and church where we began.
GALWAY WALKING CLUB
Nov 3: Sunday Ramble: Loughgreaney Lake Loop Walk (East Clare), 17km, 4hrs, meet Omniplex, Headford Road, 9.45am.
DINGLE HILLWALKING CLUB
Nov 3: Binn an Tuair, Scraggane, 4.5hr, moderate, meet outside Garvey’s Supermarket, Holy Ground, Dingle, 10am.
BLACKROCK HILLWALKING CLUB
Nov 3: Heavenly Gates and Cnoc na Peiste Ridge, 6hrs+, grade A, meet Texaco garage, Killarney, 9.15am.
Nov 3: Knockmealdowns combination walk, grade B, 4-5hrs depending on which option you choose, meet Lismore service station, 9.30am.
Nov 2: Lo-Level Walk, Rostellan Wood, easy, meet St. Colman’s Community College, Old Youghal Road, Midleton, 2pm.
Nov 3: Sunday Walk, The Paps, 5hrs, grade B, meet Distillery Lanes Car Park in Midleton, 8.45am.