Gougane Barra. A Strenuous Walk in the Park

Gougane Barra.
A Strenuous Walk in the Park
Crossing the river
Hadn’t been in Gougane Barra in a good few years and decided to visit during a few days in West Cork recently. It costs a fiver per car to enter and for that you get roads, walks, toilets, information signs and access to over 137 hectares of wild and beautiful scenery, tucked in a lush valley at the edge of the Sheehy mountains, the ideal place to hike, get in touch with nature, picnic and inhale the fresh air. 
It was a lovely sunny day and, having driven from Cork city, we first had a bite to eat (not quite a picnic) and a drink of water. Some six trails here, all laid out for you. Of course we take the tough one: Slí an Easa (1.8kms, 1.5hrs) is strenuous, the sign says, and for the “more energetic”. It promises streams, a river to cross and waterfalls. So off up the hill we go.
New growth.
 And it is pretty strenuous. But don't let that put you off. There are quite a few steps along the way. Not all are easy, you’ll have to lift those legs. A walking stick makes it easier and you rise up surprisingly quickly even if you do have to lift those legs higher than you do when you take the dog out.

The streams tumble down through the trees and soon the views open out for you. Within minutes, that car park looks a long way down.

 On the left, new growth. A few years back, a fungal disease hit the larch trees in the park and many of them, not just the diseased ones, had to be taken out. So now there are some bare slopes. Not quite that bare as a multitude of newly planted Scots Pine and Oak, peeping hopefully out of their protective tubes, begin their long residency here.

And yes, there is a river to cross. A small one and there are stepping stones. Care is required though and here your stick will come in handy! Carry on upwards and soon you come to a terrific viewing point. Take a break here for a spell and take it all in, right down to the lake.

Time now to take go back, along the same route. Going down can sometimes be more dodgy than going up so take it handy! Slí an Easa is just one of six walks available. One or two stay down on the level, taking you on a leisurely walk through the forest floor.

We had enough of the walking but that didn’t mean the end of exploring the forest. There is a looped drive available from the first car park. So drive nice and slowly (part of it is one-way) and enjoy the views and stop where you see the An Laoi sign and have a look at the infant river as it starts its journey to Cork City and the sea.

See also:
Walking in Gougane Barra