Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen (Sandsend)
The Village House B&B in Glenbeigh is comfortable but my room faces the busy main road so traffic noise wakes me early.
It’s a bright morning as I go down to the bridge over the river. The first part of this route follows an old railway track that ran between Farranfore and Valencia Island.1 I take a detour to a holy well marked on the map but fail to find much except a fish box full of plastic rubbish.
The small road rises steadily for 3 or 4 kilometres, the huge bulk of Drung Hill ahead and the sweep of the Coomasaharn Horseshoe to the left. Drung Hill has an iconic breast shape and was significant in prehistory. More recently it was a pilgrimage destination and has an ogham stone on its summit but at 640 metres up, I decide against a detour today.
I look for the rock art shown on my map at ‘Mountain Stage’. It’s not as marked but after asking a passing farmer for directions I find it in the garden of a bungalow: a boulder with some very faint cup and rings.
After crossing above the busy N70 road on an old railway bridge I meet ‘A’ whom I had seen in the Bridia Valley two days ago. We chat and both miss a waymarker, nearly ending up on the hard shoulder of the busy main road. Retracing our steps we find the path leading up a small boreen as the route begins its traverse of the shoulder of Drung Hill.
‘A’ presses on while I take a break on a welcome bench with the sounds of a farmer and his dog herding sheep in the fields behind.
The rough track rises along a narrow terrace around the hill. There is a steep drop to my right with the N70 snaking around the coast far below, coaches at a layby like toys surrounded by little tourists admiring the view. Mine is better: way over Dingle Bay towards Anascaul, the sea blue and sparkling; back towards Inch Strand and Castlemaine; down to the tunnels of the old railway and onwards towards the col at Coomshanna. To my left, Drung rises up to the sky, dark and moody.
Over the col, the track enters forestry, wet and boggy underfoot. I sit with Eugene O’Grady on a little green seat blessed with lanterns in memory of:
“A loving husband Dad and Grandad who lived, loved and farmed this land.”
It’s a touching memorial, lovingly kept.
From here for the next few kilometres, the track is deeply wet and boggy, worse around ruined buildings used as cattle pens, the muck unavoidable.
The huge upward sweep of the flanks of Knocknatdobar (Cnoc na dTobar: ‘Hill of the Well’) rise from the valley, Cahersiveen beyond.
My route joins the road: long, straight and hot, cutting across the bog. A brief stretch across the wet pasture of the Ferta river valley before another long road to Strandsend, the last part on the hard shoulder of the N70, to my B&B for tonight.
Later, Eamonn takes me to Cahersiveen and I visit the old barracks which is an extraordinary building and eat in Camos, opposite the huge church. By chance, ‘A’ arrives and it is good not to eat alone.
About the route
This was another long but spectacular route with panoramic views. Very wet in places and two long, weary road sections.
16km in about 6.5 hours. Total ascent/descent: 779m. Max elevation: 383m.
23km (14 miles) in about 6.5 hours. Total ascent: 547m. Max elevation 330m.