I don’t usually join guided or group walks but the Bantry Walking Festival hike up Hungry Hill on the Beara attracts me, especially as it’s not a mountain to tackle alone if the route is unfamiliar.
We set off by coach from the tourist office in Bantry, about nineteen people including the leaders. After an hour’s hot journey we start off up the hill on a route I walked before but in the opposite direction. The group has mixed abilities and Frank, the leader, makes frequent stops with a bit of history thrown in to allow everyone to catch their breath. It’s a well organised event.
We soon leave the Beara Way and head off into unknown (for me) territory. It’s a perfect day: bright, calm and warm.
Up a wide gully and over a col lies Coomarkane Lake with its backdrop of cliffs displaying the rippling grey folds of Knock Daod’s awe-inspiring geology. 1
Up and over again to Coomavallig Lake with its small promontory providing a perfect place for a rest and a snack overlooking the dark water and a lone tree standing on the opposite shore.
From here the going gets steeper as we climb upwards, circling around to the north of the summit. Once there, I am surprised to see that Hungry Hill has a wide green plateau at its top, the soft peat crossed by deep fissures from water erosion. There is a trig-pillar at the highest point and a stone-built cairn beyond, sitting above the cliffs overlooking Castletownbere and Bere Island. It reminds me of the similar structure on Mount Corrin and Frank tells us that it was, in fact, built by order of the same Lord Bandon.
We descend towards Comnagapple Glen (‘Glen of the Horses’) which I sketched after my Beara Way hike last year. It’s steep and tests my knees which are not so good going down. I am grateful when we reach the track around Park Lough to make our way back to the coach. Back in Bantry there are refreshments in the Quays Bar where photos from the hike are already being shown on a screen.
This was a strenuous hike ascending steeply at times to 682 metres on a very warm day. I am not showing a map because my GPS tracking failed half way (my error – I forgot to un-pause it after lunch) and I don’t want to mislead anyone with inaccurate mapping. The route is not waymarked.
Thanks to Bantry Walking Festival for the well-organised day. (You may spot me in one or two of the photos!)