Saturday, 26 April 2014

Carrigfadda : A looped walk over a high hill in West Cork for superb coastal views

This photo of Carrigfadda Hill Walk is courtesy of TripAdvisor
This popular family walk near Rosscarbery climbs a low mountain for spectacular coastal views
  • 14 kms drive from Dunmanway, no more than one hour's drive from Cork City
  • Parking either at church for longer walk, or at forest car-park for looped hill-walk
  • First section of walk is up steep section of steps, so only for the fit
  • Well-defined, surfaced path climbs up through woodland, steep near the top
  • Marian cross near the summit, trig point on summit ridge
  • Superb panoramic views of West Cork coast and interior from summit ridge.
  • Views extend from Old Head of Kinsale (east) to Mizen peninsula (west)
  • Descend via looped path through woodland, adding interest and variety

 The start-point for this walk is at Carrigfadda church, or, if you prefer, at a car-park higher up the hill and nearer to the forest. Driving out of Dunmanway on the R599 towards Clonakilty, after 5.6 kms you turn right for Reenascreena, and in approx another 5 kms, where the road to Reenascreena is a turn off to the left, you keep straight on for at least another 1.5 kms until you reach Carrigfadda church on your right. There is an information board here which shows a map of the trail, and there are also public toilets.

 It is possible to park here, and walk up to the start of the looped walk from here, but it's nearly 2.5 kms each way along a narrow road (with some lively-looking dogs along the way!) to reach the start of the looped forest walk (which in itself is about 4 kms length in total). Unless you have endless time, I'd recommend driving up to the start of the looped walk, at the forest car-park. This means continuing past the church, and taking the next small lane to the right. Take care, and go slow, on this minor road, as the surface isn't great, and you may have to pass other cars / tractors (it's very narrow).

 Just keep driving straight up, passing a narrow turn to the right, and you'll come to a car-park for the Coillte forest, with information sign. Park here, and use the info board to orientate yourself as to your route. The trail starts at the right hand corner of the car-park, soon climbing steeply up a long series of steps which were quite some feat of construction. The views open up behind you, and are worth savouring as you reach the top of the steps.

 When the steps come to an end, the path leads you into forest, where you must take a right turn for the quickest approach to the summit (you can go straight on via the woods if you want a gentler approach to the summit, reversing the looped walk). Taking the right turn, the path twists around and crosses a fence until you are just below the summit of Carrigfadda hill (Carrigfadda seems to translate as 'the long rock'). You'll see the ridge with the Marian Cross and trig point above to your right. A small path takes you looping up to the summit.

 You are at 313m, the highest point along this section of the West Cork coast, and the views stretch from the Old Head of Kinsale in the east to the Mizen, Sheep's Head and Beara peninsulas in the west, and northwards you'll see all the inland mountains of West Cork. Nowen Hill and Shehy More, on which I'll post information, soon, are quite close and easily visible to the north.

 Returning from the ridge to the path, continue in the direction you were going in, and the path leads you behind the ridge, then loops back round into the forest, to bring you back to the point where the two paths diverged earlier on. You then descend the steps, taking care as the steps are high, to reach the car-park.

 This a well-laid out trail, and this looped section is just under 4 kms long. Choose a clear day so you can enjoy the beautiful coastal views.

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