This natural beauty has been on my bucket list for some time. Just how jaw-dropping is it in real life? Is it a really tough hike-hike or can I just take a walk up it with my dog wearing runners? As with everything in life, as we venture into new territory, the first time is always the hardest. So this week I started a new path; a hill-walk with a lovely bunch of ladies & excitingly, it was up Coumshingaun!
To begin, search for Kilclooney wood car park, which is on the R676 connecting Dungarvan & Carrick-on-Suir on your map system. At the moment, there is no payment for this carpark. Here there is a picnic bench & a clear path through tall forestry that you set off on, just like in the picture above.
We followed the path as it veered to the right & we noticed the fake tree on the left of the path that is a marker to know you are on the correct trail. Straight ahead on this path, you will approach a fence with a stile, climb over here & as you do, take a look back over your shoulder to get a peek at what scenery is slowly unfolding below you!
Once you have cleared the stile & left the forestry behind, the land will open up & you see the height awaiting you. Boulders, gorse, sheep & their droppings create obstacles. Pick your way through these, climbing at your own pace. Don’t mind the speed anyone else is going at. It is worth looking out for a large rock that looks like a hunched over giant, head in that direction. Essentially, you are walking uphill until you get to very large boulders. To be clear & blunt: it is tough going! Yes, in fine weather I would walk it in my runners. There is a sign at the stile asking that all dogs must be kept on a lead at all times which in my opinion is more than fair; I appreciate the landowners open up their property to dogs & their owners as a lot of places simply do not allow our four-legged friends.
Once you get to the big boulders, the lake should be below you. Edge closer at your own risk! At this point, you’ll be glad to know that the toughest part of the walk is over. Please do bring a warm jacket & hat as the land is exposed with no shelter & as you climb higher, what may be a calm sunny day on ground level, can be windy the higher you climb. It is a short but steep climb.
At the boulders, climb around them. You will get to a point that you have to squeeze through a very narrow section of rocks. Once through, this is a wonderful natural platform type area – flat rocks to sit on & higher rocks offering shelter from the winds. To get to this point, it will take in & around an hour. It’s not a lengthy walk but it is steep, so a do-able challenge. As this is my second walk back from a summer of recovery I definitely struggled with keeping up with the ladies. I also regret not bringing a stick. I would usually prefer to go without a stick, but if you are easing your way back into exercise, it is a great help.
From where we are now, at this viewing platform, you get a magnificent view of the lake below. You can appreciate the steepness of the surrounding cliffs rising from the lake. You see the flat plateau mountain top & you have views across the land & sea of the Déise. You can take the all-important Instagram snaps & you can feel safe on this wide section of sheltered rocks.
Unless you are into proper hiking & have all the boots, compass, maps & gear, I would just go as far as here. From this point on, there is an area of scrambling to do & while fun, you need to know what you are doing & be properly kitted out. To do the entire loop will take about 4-5 hours & is considered by many guides, writers & clubs to be one of the best walks in the country. It has it all; forest trails, exposed hill walking through rocks, gorse & heathers, vertigo-inducing scrambling, levelled off easy walking along the wide open top plateau & physically testing terrain descending down the other side. Oh yes, and eye-popping views down towards the wonder of nature that is Coumshingaun lake. And in the background, a supporting cast of breath-taking views over the lush rich fields of south Tipp & the Déise & the glisten of the Copper Coast towards Helvic Head in the south!
Doing the shorter version, which is about 2 – 2.5 hours in no way will you be missing out; you get a more condensed taste of all the variety, but excuse yourself from scrambling through more jagged rocky section & beyond.
To return to your car, go back on the same path – carefully! – and encourage anyone you meet on the way back down that they don’t have too far to go!
DISCLAIMER: This is intended to describe my personal experience of visiting Coumshingaun lake for the first time & my thoughts on this. I do not operate as a guide of any mountains or hills in Ireland. Hill-walking is a risk sport that people must take personal responsibility for and heed warning signs.
Just a short hop away from Coumshingaun is Mahon Falls, also in the Comeraghs’. This is a more manageable walk for all age groups as you just follow the signs to the carpark & stay on the footpath. Read more here…