When I first came to Kenmare, I came across a leaflet for Gleninchaqin Park. On the back, testimonials boasted how awesome it was, curiosity got the better of me and I made my way out there. Having now visited a few times, and as you know with familiarity comes complacency, I must emphasise that there really is no other word that sums up this natural attraction as Awesome!
Really, if you are into the outdoors, love being out in nature, want to see something completely unique and whether you want to go for a spin, a gentle stroll with both old and young companions, something to get your heart pumping or an all-day hike, then Gleninchaquin has it!
Leave Kenmare town and take the Castletown Bere road. After about 12 or 13 kilometres you will see a sign for Gleninchaquin Park to your left. Take this road and this is where the fun begins!
If you are driving a hire car with a manual gear box, be prepared to get to know the gears. This boreen is approximately 7 kilometres long and you will meet all sorts; from fellow visitors leaving Gleninchaquin, to the local post man, to the residents of the area – humans, sheep and dogs! Go slowly. You are probably speeding if you are up as far as 3rd gear. Take your time, be careful admiring the view as the lakes are quite close! There are lots of banks where you can pull over, get out, take a selfie and be exhilarated by the sight you are surrounded by.
The lakes on your right are Cloonee Lough Middle, Upper and finally Lough Inchaquin, after which this Glen is named. It might surprise you just how chilled out the sheep are. They could be curled up on the roadside, their nose centimetres from the car tyre and they don’t seem to even budge!!
When you do reach the car park you will be welcomed by the landowners who may advise you of the weather conditions expected and of anything exciting happening on their farm that day. You can then decide which walk to do, or even just sit and admire the impressive 140 metre waterfall from your car.
The Riverwalk is perfect as a gentle stroll alongside the rock pools and through the carpet of needles from the pine trees around you. It is possible to walk up and over the waterfall. It is a very do-able walk and very rewarding – the scenery is really something special. Do wear boots and make sure to bring a jacket as the weather can change very quickly while you are up there!
There is a longer walk, once you reach the waterfall you can veer off on an extra loop around the upper Lough Cummenaloughaun. On this stretch there is no path, but there are yellow marks guiding the way and they are plentiful and very visible. If you do decide to do this route, once you leave the red walk (the waterfall route) the chances are you won’t meet another person until you re-join that path on the descent down. You may notice that up here, the sheep become very shy and once they spot you at all they will run away, quite the opposite of their colleagues on the road to the park!
Coming back down towards the farm, be sure to take the Riverwalk back to the carpark. It will provide shelter and soft underfoot after the steep descent down.
Making your way out of the park, if you have worked up an appetite or have a thirst for something cool, Sailors’ Bar on the road back into Kenmare will have some delicious fresh home cooking on the menu and if you are very lucky the Venison Burger will be on the specials blackboard. Sailors serve food throughout the summer months but if you are visiting in the winter check to see if they are open or their times have changed.
Or you could continue along the Beara peninsula towards Lauragh, where you will be enveloped in beautiful nature that will revive you better than any spa experience!