Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Castlefreke and Rathbarry. The Castles And The Wood

Castlefreke and Rathbarry
The Castles And The Wood
Rathbarry is a lovely little village a few miles off the main road between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery and has been prominent in the Tidy Towns awards in  recent years. On the way to Durrus the other day, I decided to make a visit to Castlefreke wood and, at the same time, take a look at the castle on the hill which was a ruin the last time I saw it.

In 2000, Stephen Ralfe Evans-Freke purchased Castle Freke, bringing it back into the ownership of the Freke family, as well as surrounding lands and also Rathbarry Castle. Rathbarry was first to be restored and since he has turned his attention to restoring Castle Freke.
Bottom left: a panel from the high cross
 I turned off at the Rathbarry signpost and soon arrived at the village. Just beyond the village, on your right, you’ll see a lodge. I thought this was a private entrance but is is a public road - you'll see the road markings at the exit/entrance. So I came back and drove through.

There are a number of walks on the woods to your left. A few minutes in, there is a car park on the left, informal and v-shaped, with a gate into the wood. On your right, you have a terrific view of Castlefreke Castle on the hill.

Owenahincha beach from the road below Castkefreke Wood.
Galley Head is behind the camera.
We walked into the wood and followed the sign-posted path up to the high cross that stands at the highest point. It is some 30’ high and was erected in 1902 as a memorial to the local Lord Carbery, an ancestor of the current owner.

Here too you have quite a view over the ocean, all the way from Galley Head on your left to the entrance to Rosscarbery Bay on the right. But there is an even better view, as we would soon find out.

We retraced our steps, through the trees and the bluebells, back to the car park and then drove out of the park at the other end, again by another lodge. We turned left on the road and this took us right to the edge of the sea. From this elevated position, the view was broader and grander. Quite splendid in fact on a sunny day. Enjoyed our snack here before heading off for Sheeps Head Peninsula and our second walk of the day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Walking On The Sheep’s Head Peninsula

Walking On The Sheep’s Head Peninsula
The Sheep’s Head peninsula is one of quite a few beautiful areas in West Cork but what makes this special is that here, you do it yourself. You walk, that is. Of course, you may drive and see the beautiful scenery at each side of the peninsula but it is hard to beat the satisfaction of walking up there in those hills.

But it can be very unsatisfactory if you don't know exactly where you are going and sometimes you are half afraid to set out, even on a sunny day. But arm yourself with the easily obtainable information on the many walks here (and, of course, on what you should take with you). Do that and much of it becomes much more accessible. Here is an excellent resource courtesy of The Sheep’s Head Way. The main walk, by the way, which starts in Bantry is about 90 kilometres long!

Somewhere between the impetuosity of youth and the caution of old age, there is a path for you, maybe more than one!

We had a year previously made our amateur way from Bernie’s Cupan Tae cafe at Sheep’s Head out to the lighthouse, a tough enough walk (lots of mud and surface water that day) but very enjoyable. Last week we were looking to do something different. We didn't have the information about the various routes mentioned above when we stopped up on the viewing point at Seefin.

So, from the car park, we followed the marked posts along the rocky ridge and were rewarded with remarkable views to the left, starting with Kilcrohane village below in the flat, Dunmanus Bay huge in between, Three Castle Head hiding Mizen Head further away, right out to the Fastnet Lighthouse in the ocean. On our right as we walked, the blue waters of handsome Bantry Bay beckoned, Bere Island (lots of publications term it Bear Island) lay at peace and just beyond was the gorgeous Beara Peninsula with the Caha and Slieve Miskish Mountains, and hints of Kerry in the purple distance.

The posts are well spaced, easily seen and the track along the ridge was easy enough, my walking stick coming in handy. But it was our second walk of the day and after half an hour or so we reluctantly decided to turn back. Still it was an exhilarating walk with incredible views.
Bantry Bay
So we were feeling quite happy with ourselves as we got back to the car park. There a young man on his mountain bike, accompanied by two big black dogs, started cycling up the ridge (in the Bantry direction). We kept an eye on him, even got the binoculars out. At one point he put the bike over his shoulder and continued, walking onwards and upwards. Our exhilaration could well have been deflated. But not a bit of it. We were full of admiration and perhaps a little jealous!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cork Walk. Dillon's Cross to Murphy's Brewery

Dillon's Cross to Murphy's Brewery
Today's Cork Walk. 
The big view, with Shandon (centre) and North Cathedral (right)
Great day for a walk, blue sky and not too cold. So I headed off from Mayfield, down to Dillon's Cross and along the Old Youghal Road, past Collins Barracks, and down towards Richmond Hill, where I took most of these pictures. Then, back up to Audley Place and down Patrick's Hill, before turning up Wellington Road and home via St Luke's
St Fin Barre's Cathedral

Heineken Brewery

Shandon, with the County Hall in the distance
half hidden by trees

The North Cathedral

Shandon towers over some well known buildings here. Bottom left is the Maldron Hotel
(once the North Infirmary) and the white building "above" it is the Mercy Hospital.
The round building in the centre is the Firkin Crane and, in the distance between it
and Shandon, is the County Hall.
Looking down on Bridge Street and Patrick Street

This building on Old Youghal Road
 is where the Cameo Cinema (once a home to the
Cork Film Festival) stood

Plaque at Dillon's Cross.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

City Views From Elizabeth Fort

City Views From Elizabeth Fort
Panoramas From The Ramparts

Above and below:
Looking north, across the South Channel and the Beamish & Crawford site.
The high mast on the right is at Collins Barracks,
the one on the left is at Knocknaheeny.
in between you can pick out Shandon and the North Cathedral.
On top: the "goldie" fish and angel.
Elizabeth Fort is a 17th century star shaped fort off Barrack Street. The city eventually grew around the fort. The fort has played a role in many of the events affecting Cork history. It has been used by armies, militia, even the guards (1920-2013). Now Cork City Council have taken possession and plan to develop it as a tourist attraction.
The fort towers over neighbouring houses
The fort is open to the public and you can get up-to-date information at the Facebook Page here and also stay in touch via the Twitter link. Admission is free and there are great views over the city. Some areas are being populated with "soldiers" and there are cannons and smaller weapons on display. Some information panels as well including an explanation of the phrase "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey", not one you'd be thinking of!
High on the hill, Church of the Ascension, Gurranabraher.
Great to see the City Council using social media to get the word out on Elizabeth Fort. But they have their work cut out for them. A few minutes after the visit, I was in the English Market and chatting to a man behind one of the stalls. He is a Corkman, in his thirties, and had never heard of the place!

Shandon and its goldie fish

Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral,
a close neighbour
In the grounds of the cathedral

17th century hangover.
After visiting the fort, I took a walk around
Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mayfield, on a snowy morning

Snowy Morning In Mayfield
Cork Suburb In White
Pics taken between 8.00 and 8.30am, except for last two (taken about an hour later). The overnight snow vanished quickly after noon and a storm is forecast for between 6.00 and 9.00 am on the 15th. How quickly things change!
From Springfield - looking south-east

From Springfield - looking up towards Silver heights

From Springfield - looking south-east

From Springfield - looking south-east
This photo taken (and added here) about 8.30am on Jan 19th '15
same location as the one above it.
From Springfield - looking south-east towards Cobh

In Iona Park

In Iona Park