Revisited Lough Hyne, after a gap of quite a few years, during a recent trip to the Skibbereen area.
The lake, south west of the town, is Ireland's first Marine Nature reserve. It is an essentially a sea lake, fed through a narrow channel from the nearby sea, and they say that makes it unique in Northern Europe.
It is a pleasant place to walk around, there are some ruins to view and sea kayaking also takes place on the lake.
Essentially though this is a place for the scientists. It is a marine biologist’s paradise and its varied fauna and flora provide ongoing study for university researchers.
For the amateur, your best bet is to start with a visit to the Skibbereen heritage centre (in the town) which has a 15 minute explanatory video (very interesting) and an information display on the lake.
Knockomagh means crooked hill and there is certainly a crooked path to the top. When you get there you are rewarded with a view of Lough Hyne and an even better one of the West Cork coast.
It is a stiff enough walk up and a walking stick won't go astray. We went up the zig-zag path at the weekend. Total length is about 2 km but there is an opportunity to shorten the walk and avoid some of the steepest climbing by taking the northern loop. The Skibbereen heritage centre has a booklet on the trail and I would recommend that you get your hands on it before you go.
There are Sessile Oaks, the ruins of a cottage, a bluebell glade (in season), the fallen beech (growing again) and other sights to see as you progress. There are also a couple of stops that give good views over Lough Hyne but to get the best view of all you have to get to the top. Well worth it.
Your walking is helped by series of stone and timber steps but you will, depending on the prevailing weather, come across some muddy patches and you can always shorten your walk by taking the northern loop down.
Don’t want to make it sound too tough. After all, it is only 197 metres high. Neither of us found it that difficult. We were expecting it might be harder on the way down but the steps made it quite easy and we had no problems at all.
Still, young or old, you have to be careful here as there are some steep drops. If you are reasonably fit, have the right shoes, a walking stick and a bottle of water, you’ll have no problem at all. And the views are really worth it.
Photos, from the top: Lough Hyne, channel to sea in middle of frame; View of coast from the top of hill; the fallen beech, rooted again via one branch; and then three views of the pathway.