A lovely piece about the fabulous local walks by one of our guests who checked out this week
KILSHEELAN WALKSKilsheelan is a small village about 8k from Clonmel on the N24 towards Waterford. To get there turn either left (slightly shorter but on back road) or right when exiting the hotel and take the next bridge over the Suir. In both cases turn right onto the east bound road for Waterford. There is a car park (right side of road) on the Clonmel side of Kilsheelan with about 15 spaces, suitable for any walk starting at Kilsheelan. All distances measured on an iPhone used by writer and are likely to vary a bit from actual although seem consistent with map.Walk One (about 16km and about 4.5 hours at gentle pace)Cross the Suir by the old bridge immediately past the car park. Be careful on this relatively quiet stretch of road, as there is poor visibility for motorists particularly on bridge and as it veers to the left.
At 0.75k there is a T junction with a Celtic cross dedicated to the memory of Count de la Poer. Here (as the fourth limb of the junction) there is a wide forest path to right (with a tarmac Parking space left). Head upwards through deciduous trees keeping left – this will be your most challenging climb of the day. Ignore 3 right turns, the last one is grassy. Once you have passed it, the route is either generally level or downhill from there. At 2.9k you will reach a T junction. Take right at this junction and then immediately left.
Walk long straight stretch and then take second left at 3.8k (there was an extensive forest clearing there in July 2020 – this is where Walk 2 heads straight on). There are excellent views of the Comeraghs at this point. Keep straight on this path (ignoring a left turn), passing a derelict house to your right and then descending into a valley with great views south to the mountains to Glenpatrick Bridge 5.1k. Go right onto the road here (there is an 8k walk here (Walk 3) and some scope to park)
Suggest pause here for lunch as there is an extensive car park with picnic facilities. Opposite the car park take right signposted off road up grassy track and follow it left just before a gate. At end of this track turn left on main road R678 (Clonmel to Rathgormack but relatively quiet)and go uphill to sharp left bend (this is at 6.4k). Take right at this bend (there is a brown sign just before), This is a road shortly converting to a grassy track with very extensive and really attractive views of Comeraghs and of Slievenamon. The Rathgormuck road lies a distance below. This track crosses a stone bridge called Baldy Bridge at 9.2k.
Shortly after bridge, the track reaches a road. Directly across the road there are three wooden steps which lead to a track through cleared forest. After about 100 metres, you reach a forestry track where the formal marked walk goes right. This is where Walk 2 rejoins the route. Take a left at this point. Keep going downhill and ignore tracks to the left. At the fourth track to the left you meet the East Munster Way. At skewed crossroads (prominent white stone on left before this crossroads)keep straight ahead and at next junction (where there is a walkmarker) turn sharp left. This track zig zags down the hill. You can either go left or straight ahead at the next forest crossing or take a green track to the left. To identify the “green track” you can see housing estate ahead through gap in trees and there is a Y shaped tree before it. The road is reached at 14.5k. Be very careful on this road – the visibility is relatively good and it has “walker” signs but motorists are inclined to speed nonetheless. Turn right onto the road reaching the de la Poer cross and following the road left down the hill to get back to Kilsheelan. The map would suggest a number of routes going through the estate between the road and the River Suir but this seems to be private land.
Walk Two (about 13km and 3.5 hours)This is the same as Walk One until the junction described at 3.8k in that walk. At that point head straight on for about half a kilometre where you meet a marked walkway above the Glasha River. Take a right at this point following the marked trail and keeping on it from the point it accesses the road way. About 1.5k after it meets the roadway, there is a short track signposted left across cleared forest which brings the marked trail back to the road. Ignore this turn and keep straight ahead following Walk One all the way back to Kilsheelan.Walk Three (about 8 kilometres)This is a formally walked mark with sign boards most of which is followed by Walk One or Walk Two. To access the walk car park from Kilsheelan by car, turn right at Kilsheelan, cross the Suir and head to a T junction (with Celtic Cross) where you keep left. In about 200 metres, take the right fork and follow the road for about 4k to reach a marked carpark, shortly after crossing Glasha River. This is a circular walk which can be tackled in either direction from the car park. The southern stretch of it is described in Walk One and has very impressive views. The northern stretch is described in Walk Two.Walk Four (estimated about 10k) This walk has not been surveyed by the writer.Start at the car park as described in Walk Three. This is an extensive car park with picnic facilities. Opposite the car park take right signposted off road up grassy track and follow it left just before a gate. At end of this track turn left on main road R678 (Clonmel to Rathgormack but relatively quiet)and go uphill to sharp left bend (this is about 1.3k from carpark). Take road straight ahead at this bend signed for Loch Moyra. Both the first right and the second right tracks off this road seem to ultimately lead to Loch Moyra. The “discoverireland.ie Lough Mohra Loop” webpage suggests there are extensive blue and red arrows marking the way.
De laPoer. The Celtic Cross just outside Kilsheelan commemorates Edmund de la Poer (1841-1915) who was the builder of Castle Gurteen, the manor house in the estate to your right as you leave Kilsheelan. Count de la Poer was both High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant for County Waterford and was created a papal count in 1864. The estate was acquired by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein about 20 years ago.
Walks around Clonmel
Walk One (14.5k ex hotel Minella – can be shortened to 11km by driving to and parking at Oldbridge). About 5 hours ex hotel
This track involves a steep climb, a short very overgrown stretch and climbing a gate, none of which the writer found unduly challenging.
Turn right when exiting the hotel entrance and follow south bank of River Suir. Keep on left side of Coleville Rd with continuous pavement. At roundabout cross road and climb down steps into Denis Burke Park. Very good views of Suir. Exit park. Pavement is then on road for a few hundred metres (note the literary figures plaque commemorating authors associated with Clonmel including Sterne and Trollope). At Oldbridge where the road veers sharply left admire fine view of weir from bridge to right. Oldbridge is 1.8k from hotel.
Pass Edel Quinn Park on left. Take road to the immediate right of Emigrants Rest pub. This is signposted both “Holy Year Cross” and “Munster Way”. The road is called Roaring Spring. Take left towards end of houses at cul de sac sign (and signposted) up a very steep hill. This is your steepest climb of the day and it has good views to left of town and Slievenamon. The climb eases a lot after a house on right with wide paved entrance just before a sharp bend. Take it gently. At 3.4k there are seven fire hydrants at which you keep right (the paved road heads left). Here there are stones to sit down so possible break spot. It takes about an hour and a quarter to reach this spot.
Climb over stile (poor condition). Follow track for a few hundred metres. Veer off track onto trail where there is a sign for Munster Way. This track is a bit difficult at first because of overgrowth –keep uphill to your left to avoid worst bits. The track is ok once you reach edge of a patch of forest. (There may be a better path up the hill by continuing to follow the track and taking a right). At end of patch of forest, take left and then immediate right on two lane farm vehicle track. This is at 4.6k ex hotel.
This track comes to a junction and you head right through an opening with an old unused stile and head to forest. When you reach the forest turn left and climb the left of two gates* into a farm following the track to the bottom of the hill and exiting to a road through a farm gate. The last portion of the downhill track here is tricky as it is churned up by cattle. This is 5.8k from Minella. Take right turn onto a roadway – this may represent the best place to lunch.
About 1k along this road (6.8k) there is a track off to right (just past impressive driveway to house of left and at a way mark sign). There is room to park a few cars here. There is a forestry barrier at entrance and sign “no quads no scramblers”.
At 7.7k take a track to left , which is grassy as opposed to gravel (this junction is after a thick forest stretch). This is the start of a zig zag down the hill which at spots has impressive views towards Knockmealdowns and Galtees and further north). At next junction keep left effectively doubling back. The track then doubles back again to finally reach a side road. This is 10.4k ex Minella and approximately 3 and a half hours.
Head right for about 200 metres on this side road ex the forest. Take side road to right immediately before the major junction with the Dungarvan road. This road crosses the brow of the hill with decent views over Clonmel. It is a pretty quiet road although used a bit by locals in Summer 2020 to avoid stop go on Dungarvan and Clogheen roads. Once it rejoins main road take a right and it is all footpath. Back to Oldbridge at 13.1k or about 4.5 hours. Follow road back to hotel which is about 1.5k if the detouir via Denis Burke Park is not taken.
*if you are put off having to climb the double gate, there is a track to the right which circles the hill and ultimately reaches a T junction which leads to the zig zag down the west side of the hill. This has not been surveyed by writer.
Walk Two Glenabbey area
This is accessed by turning right at the hotel gate and driving approximately 3k on the south bank of the River Suir to the left turn for Dungarvan (which is well signposted) Take the first left off this road and drive about 2k to the well marked Carey’s Castle Forest Area where you can park.
From that point you can follow the way marked East Munster Way for about 5k until you reach a paved road which is crossed at right angle. Take a right onto this road and make your way back to the Carey’s Castle car park. The first portion of the walk closely follows the Glenary River.
Apart from a stretch close to Carey’s Castle, the paved road has very little traffic as it only accesses forest areas and not houses.
The writer has not walked this, but estimates its length at about 8k.
Turn right out of hotel and continue straight until the Dungarvan turnoff which is well signposted. It is just past a garage on the right. The village of Ballymacarbry is 17k from the hotel. It is at the head of the Nire valley.
Opposite Melody/Maoloid pub in Ballymacarbery painted yellow turn left (sign for Comeragh Drive and Hanoras Cottage). Ignore two right turns and keep straight until you see a prominent modern bridge. Turn right immediately before the bridge (road unsuitable for bus from there). Pass Honoras cottage and head for car park (about 20 cars capacity) at end of single track road 10k from Ballymacarbery. This car park itself has spectacular views and is worth the drive for a motorist.
Numerous marked walks ex there. All have wonderful views of open country. The area is quite exposed, so probably not the best walk to select on a day where cover is preferable.
Coumlara loop 6.5k
Coumduala loop 9k difficult
The Gap Walk 6k
The Sgilloges walk 6k
I would suggest a walk of 8.4k similar to the Coumlara Loop. I would recommend a clockwise direction as there are more uphill stretches the other way. It is all well marked with way posts.
Take path directly to the left of the notice board with a way marker. This is labelled moderate. There is an initial steep uphill. If a person can manage that the rest is much easier. About two thirds of the way to The Gap there are some marshy bits. This is an easy enough path. It’s easier to return the same route. This is the green route and is called The Gap Walk. If one heads to the left and uphill at The Gap there are views back towards the sea as one climbs higher. There are marvellous views at the Gap itself.
There is a path going right at The Gap. This is the red route called Coumlara Loop. Follow the fence about 200m to the first marker post. Take a sharp right there on a very indistinct path which becomes much easier to follow by the first marker post. The path crosses a river on a bridge after which it has difficult stretches coming sharply downhill. Keep fence on your immediate right for about 2k There are a number of stiles crossing a fence which the path closely follows and a climbable gate at the end. The last bit of the path which levels out is quite marshy. Someone has put in a boardwalk but it is not clear that this is to service the route. After crossing another bridge you reach a road back to the car park.
There is an optional detour to some corrie lakes, the Sgilloge Lochs on the way back.
There are extensive walks through the forest at Knocklisheen about 2k from Ballymacarbery. Take the road at Melody/Maolaid described in Walk One and after about 2k, there is a turn to the left which immediately crosses the Nire river. About 0.5k up this road there is a small car park (room for 2 cars) on the right hand side and from there there is an attractive forest trail which circles the forest ultimately returning on a quiet road. Generally the walker kweeps right at the first three junctions, but ignores the fourth right turn. A map of the area would be useful although there are relatively few options. There is a circuit of about 9k in total.
There seem to be a number of options for walking a mixture of back roads and tracks directly from Ballymacarbery in the Clonanav area. A map would be necessary