WE will walk along the little-used tarred road with Glanmore Lake on our right, and then around the top of the valley. We can return by the same route (8km total) or via unmarked trails to a path leading under the cliffs on the opposite shore (6km in all). This option should not be undertaken late in the day or in bad weather.
The road by the lake has rhododendron on both sides. To the left, is Knockastumpa Mountain, in the Caha range. Across the water, the spectacular cliffs of Foilemon Mountain drop almost sheer to the lake edge, the lower slopes blanketed in Scots Pine and rhododendron. Tennyson the poet or Landseer the painter would no doubt have found these slopes, reflected on the brown lake water, romantic and inspiring. The lake is rich in brown trout, and sea trout and salmon make their way up the Croanshag River from Kenmare Bay. Fishing is by licence.
For stretches, alders screen our view of the lake. A road joins from the left. Farther along, a small lake island, with Scots pines and ivy-grown ruins ruins may be seen. Set in the still water, it adds to further romance. But for natural sounds, silence prevails.
The road has gentle undulations. About 2.5km along, we pass a few houses on the left, some stone-faced in the new fashion. Now, a plantation separates us from the shore; the trees are large spruce with some large redwoods. We pass the Youth Hostel on the right. The Glanmore River, here little more than a mountain rill, enters the lake alongside Glanmore Wood, with stands of pretty silver birch amongst large, white limestone rocks clothed in moss.
Above us now are the magnificent mountains of the Caha range, sloping steeply down to the road. On the ridge above is the Healy Pass on the R574 crossing the Cahas to join Kenmare to Castletownbere. Almost-straight lines scoring the mountainsides are the scars of streams and rills issuing down into this valley.
At a ‘crossroads’, we take a right turning across a bridge spanning the Glanmore River. The road narrows. Peaks of the Cahas dramatically break the skyline on our right, Knockowen, Droppa and Knockreagh. On the high mountain on our left, we see the chimneys of a farmhouse nestling beneath it, and pass the green track leading into it. Wetland now lies to left and right of our route, and we see a two-storey farmhouse nestling in splendid isolation under Lockabane Mountain.
The tarred road ends just beyond an unmade track ascending to the last house on this side of the lake, with three dormer windows and three chimneys and a graveled area laid down on the track below it. We have so far walked 4km. Here, we may opt to retrace our steps to the trail head, or to continue.
About 1km of unsignposted paths across rough fields and through oak and birch woods will take us to a clear trail along the lake shore, and back to our trailhead. Using the map, and exercising one’s sense of direction, they can be followed. The said trail, when reached, is easy going and, after 500m, arrives at an ascending pista laneway. We turn right, going downhill, under Scots pines, along the lake shore and across a concrete bridge to the tarred road and our trail head. Total distance, 6km.
Approach via Kenmare, on N71 from Cork city or from Killarney. At Kenmare bridge, take R571, signposted Tousist/Lauragh.
About 1.5km past Lauragh village, go left at signposts for Josie’s Cafe and a Youth Hotel. Take second turning right (1.5km) signposted An Óige. Arriving at the outlet end of the lake, we park (our trailhead.)
Easygoing there and back walk.
Evening walk, approx. 4hrs, bring torch, meet Askea church, 6.30pm.
Friday night hike, 4hrs, bring torch, meet at Glanbia in Bunclody at 7pm.
Wicklow mountains, easy/medium, meet Askea Church car park, 9.30am.
Wicklow mountains, medium, meet Barrack street, Carlow, 9.30am.
This year’s festival kicks off this weekend with two days of walking in the spectacular Connemara countryside. Introductory talk held on Friday evening at the Clifden Station House Hotel, 8.30pm. Saturday hike, five hours, easy, on the magnificent Inishboffin, and Sunday hike, four hours, moderate, on Errisbeg hill and Inishnee island.
The Gearagh, C, two and a half hours, meet Ash Tree pub car park, 9am, or convenience store beside O’Leary’s of Lissarda, 9.45am.