LEHID Bridge is stone-built, with a pretty mountain stream running beneath, a small waterfall upriver, gravel beds downriver. It is named Drombohilly; the foaming water on its many small falls runs white as milk. At the time of writing, a sign prohibits salmon fishing because the river is being restocked.
Our walk (4 miles, 6.5km almost precisely) takes us inland, upriver, but it is a short stroll downriver first will take us under fine oak trees, and across a narrow metal bridge, its floor of iron laths heavily corroded.
Crossing it, we reach a path through oak woods that will take us down to the sea, a worthwhile diversion leading to the shore and marvellous views of the Iveragh mountains. However, we will have these views from a higher prospect on our route, which goes inland, uphill on the road to the left of the river.
As we walk, we pass a concrete bridge on the right. The road is quiet, with grass at the centre. Hills are ahead, Knockreagh, with the Caha range running south. At 1km, we reach and cross roads and go straight through; the left would take us to Tuosist hamlet. After a short climb, we might pause to look behind at the magnificent view of the Kenmare River with the backbone mountains of Iveragh. To our left, beyond a deep valley, we see the mountains behind Kenmare, as far as Mangerton and Carrantuohill in the Macgillicuddy Reeks.
This is a winding, undulating road, with the rare farmhouse and no traffic. We descend steeply into a valley (2km from start) and reach the R571 signposted left Kenmare, right Castletownbere.
We go right, picking up the Beara Way, and after 0.75km go right again just beyond a house with pine trees. The road is unmarked but is opposite an R571 sign and a telegraph post on the corner carries a sign saying “cheese” and a walking man waymark.
It is a narrow little road with great views of the Kenmare River and the mountains beyond, peaks to left and right and Knockatee peak ahead. This section of the Beara Way is called for Seán Ó Súilleabháin, whose initiatives led to many of the Beara Way and Kerry waymarked walks.
Whortleberry shrubs proliferate on the ditches, called fraochán in Irish and traditionally gathered on the last Sunday of July and at Lughnasa, the start of the harvest festival. We look out for a standing stone in a field on the right, the site of large boulders and home to fine, strong curly-horned rams.
We now come to a T-junction, with signs, left, to Lady’s Way and Beara Way and, right, to Kenmare’s hospitality facilities. We have come 5km. from our trailhead. We shortly arrive at triple signposts and go left, on the Lady’s Way route. Immediately after the turning, we pass a lane to a house lined by massive boulders laid on one another, like a megalithic wall. A track opposite is lined by standing stones. All are most likely JCB created. We are now on an unmade road, going downhill, passing the odd house.
We arrive at the concrete bridge we passed on the first leg and cross it, turning left just beyond and retracing our steps, downhill now, to Lehid Bridge and the car.
Start point: Kenmare is reached on the N71 from Cork city or from Killarney. To reach Lehid, take the R571 (signposted Tuosist and Lauragh) following the north shore of Beara.
After about 15km, take the R573. After 1.2km we reach Lehid Bridge at a curve. Park under trees on the right just before it.
Map: OS 84
Feb 19: Priest Leap/ Barraboy circuit, grade B, 16km, 5hrs meet Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, 10am.
Feb 22: Musheramore and Musherabeg circuit, grade B, 13km, 5hrs, suitable for first-timers, meet Millstreet Church, 10.30am.
Feb 22: Boughill to Lough Fada, grade B+, 14km, 6hrs, meet Melbourn Business Park car park 8am, or Molls Gap, 9.30am.
Feb 23: Claragh Mountain and Duhallow Way, grade C, 10km, 4hrs, meet roadside below Alps Electric, Millstreet, 10.30am.
Feb 23: Lough Anascaul circuit, grade A, 20km, 7hrs, meet Melbourn Business Park car park, 7.30am, or Daly’s Diner, Killarney, 8.45am.
Feb 22: Maumkeogh/Ceidi Fields, moderate, 10km, meet Enniscrone Tourist Office, 9.30am.
Feb 23: Cashel Walk, grade C, 4hrs, meet Cashel Church, 10.30am.