The last full day with HF continued the lovely trend of morning sunshine and clear skies. If the forecasts can be trusted the weather will remain like this for the next several days. Our last walk would be the easier walk. The harder walk does the same route as the easier one but adds a climb up and down a mountain adding 2 miles and an additional three hundred meters of ascent and decent. The easier walk would be about 11.2km with about 300 meters of ascent and descent generally spread out through the walk.
We got under way at 09:40 leaving the apparently abandoned Derrycunihy Church to walk along a country lane of sorts for a ways before turning off on to a path that would gradually climb up through some woods and open lands (supposedly being re-forested) before reaching a local high meadow between surrounding hills. It is good path and where the ground gets particularly soggy the trail builders have installed very extensive wood-metal walkways that can extend considerable distances. Of course, all good things come to an end.
While the views were expansive and the weather was fine the footing got steadily worse and worse. The trail began to gradually descend and it did so following a path strewn with countless rocks that slow everyone , but especially me, down. It get tiresome having to pay such careful attention to where you place your feet. The worst of this rocky stretch is certainly over a kilometer long and could have been as much as 1.5km. It’s a drag.
Eventually the worst is over and though the path continues to gently drop the footing improves quite a bit as you close in on the rushing sounds of a cascade about 4km from the start of the hike. This modest waterfall is a great place to take a break. If you are willing to chance the nippy water you could take a little soak here but be warned this is clearly a popular area. We spent a solid half hour relaxing here and I think everyone enjoyed the break.
The path continues working its way east towards a dirt road. Once on that road we undulated through several hills heading northeasterly eventually leaving the open countryside for woods and a somewhat steeper descent on the road to Torc Waterfall. It is here on this road, not long before you enter the woods, that the people doing the tougher walk would head up and then back down a mountain.
We saw scores of people during the road walk. If they were coming from the parking lot just beyond the waterfall we were heading for they were hiking over 4km to get to the Cascades we had just visited. Not a hard walk as the footing is superb but you would think they would carry a little more water and food than we typically saw.
The descent down to the waterfall is along seemingly endless rough steps just far enough apart that you can’t easily go down them unless you have longer legs. But once you get to the waterfall the view is pretty good. It is also pretty crowded as the car park is probably not even a five minute walk from the viewpoint. We had lunch down by that parking lot and it really isn’t a place I suggest you eat at. If the breeze had been blowing the bugs would not have pestered us , they didn’t at the waterfall or a few hundred paces further on, but at that spot they were annoying.
The last 1.8km of the walk follow a walking path that runs alongside a cycle and horse-and-buggy path. You have views of Muckross Lake and start to get a sense of the quality of the estate that Muckross once owned and eventually deeded to the state to create this national park. An easy stroll at this point and we saw dozens of people of all ages enjoying the afternoon like we were doing.
Muckross House looks impressive and I am sure it is. Manicured grounds and numerous gardens surround it. The visitor center is a bustling hive of activity. We had two hours to just relax and wait for the bus ride back to Kenmare. It was an easy day with one tough bit in the middle and a walk full of good things to see and ice cream at the end.
Stats: Sunny with a high around 70F. Distance 11.3km. AScent 260m; descent 320m. Most of the ascent happens early on with undulations after the cascades. The biggest descent is in the forest.
- Overview map. Starting at Derrycunihy Church. Easy hiking for tge first 2km on lanes and gently rising paths that included boardwalks. A good 1.2-1.5km of gentle descent that would be trivial except for the rocks. Then seceral kilomets of path and countryvroad that indulate through hills before rapidly descending through woods to Torc Falls. The gonal 1.8lm to Muckross House follow a walking trail tyat is flat.
- Mom nit lobg before the rock streen descent.
- The cascades are a great place for a break.
- On the undulatibg country road. M
- Torc waterfall.