Walk of the week: Savouring delights of Loch Clochar

UNION HALL AND LOCH CLOCHAR

THE quay, Keelbeg Pier, is colourful with fishing gear and its fleet of commercial fishing boats sometimes moored alongside. There is a fisherman’s cooperative and Glenmar Shellfish Ltd. exports fish and shellfish to Spain, Italy, France and elsewhere. We walk back into the colourful little village and through it, taking the road inland, climbing gently to the RC church. The old name was Ballincolla. The present name derives from a large house called The Hall, built by one Col William Limrick who married Margaret Somerville, of the local landowning family, in 1790. After the Act of Union, 1801, he called it Union Hall.

We turn left around the church, with a Marian Shrine opposite, and pass the national school. We are now on a country road. Ignoring the right turn for Reen Pier, we follow the signpost for Carrigillihy. After passing boggy land with tall reedmace (bulrushes) on our left we come to Loch Clochar, the surface of which is entirely colonised by robust water lilies, some white, some gold. Water hens may be seen daintily stepping across them, small black birds with white tails feathers and red beaks with yellow tips. Their feet are not webbed, but like broad feathers, distributing their weight so that they can walk on floating plants. When I walked past, I saw, gathered on the opposite bank, a tableau of cygnets, all downy and grey, supervised by their gleaming white parent swans, with a gauche-looking cormorant sunning itself standing nearby.

We go through the crossroads at the lake end, heading for a 2km there-and-back walk to the shingle strand at Carrigillihy. We can, if we wish, go left at the cross and shorten the walk back to Union Hall.

Continuing toward Carrigillihy, we first pass some houses, and then ditches bright with purple Loosestrife, tall Foxgloves, Greater Willowherb and sweet-smelling Meadowsweet in summer. Carrigillihy Harbour, edged by a pebble beach, is well sheltered between headlands. The island, left, like a pyramid, is called The Stack of Beans. Rabbit Island East is to the right, greened over on the crown. Sea dock and pink sea bindweed grow above the high-water mark, and a large Monterey cypress, Macracapra. A road continues left past the boat slip, unfortunately gated at the end, but worth the walk for views over the Rabbit Islands.

We return to lake-end crossroads, we go right. This bohreen is narrow and edged with orange montbretia in summer, rising in a steady climb, with panoramic views over the countryside west and the hills ahead. As we start down hill, Poulgorm Bridge spanning the stretch of Glandore Bay along the shores of Myross Woods to Leap comes into view. Now, it’s all downhill. The views of the hills, with irregular patches of bright green grass reclaimed from furze and bracken, and grazed by cattle of irregular colours, is emblematic West Cork scenery.

The last stretch down to the village is almost as steep as a ski slope, offering bird’s eye views of the lagoon. Arriving at the Main Street, we turn right, passing pubs and a stone warehouse from bygone times. Approaching our trailhead, we again see Poulgorm Bridge. Soon, we have excellent views of Glandore village and the stately houses, and castle, on its approach from the west. Start point: From Cork, take the N71 Skibbereen road. At Leap village, go left, signposted Glandore. Follow the bay and go right across Poulgorm bridge. At Union Hall village, keep the bay on the left, the lagoon on the right and, continuing, park near the quay, our trailhead.

Distance/time: 8km, 2/3 hours.

Difficulty:

largely back roads. Little traffic. A lake with attractive birdlife and water lilies. A shingle beach where people swim. Fine coastal views. Some short climbs and steep descents.

Map: OS Discovery 89

BANDON WALKING CLUB

(www.bandonwalkingclub.com)

Sept 28: Glencush Horseshoe, Galtees, Grade A, 14km., 6.5hrs., ascent 1,400m., meet Ashtree, Bandon, 8am or Lisbarriname village National School, 9.30m.

BLACKROCK HILL WALKING CLUB (www.blackrockhillwalkingclub.com)

Sept 28: Mangerton, Grade B, 4-5hrs., meet Glenfesk Service Station, 10am. Also Grade B+, (longer version) meet as above.

DINGLE HILLWALKING CLUB (www.dinglehillwalkingclub.com)

Sept 28: Dúnchaoin/Clocher Loop, easy low-level, 7-8km, 2.5-3hrs, meet Garvey’s Supermarket, Dingle, 10am. Donations Jack and Jill Foundation.

BORU THREE PEAKS CHALLENGE (www.boru3peaks.com)

Community fundraising event. Registration Sept 26, 7-9pm Anchor Inn, Killaloe.

Sept 27: Peak 1, Moylussa, Co. Clare, 10km., meet Ballycuggaran Forest, 9am; Peak 2, Tountinnna, meet Ballina, Co. Tipp. NS, 6pm.

Sept 28: Peak 3, Keeper Hill, meet Doonane car park, Newport, Co. Tipp. 11am.

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