Knockadoon Head Loop
Start the walk at Knockadoon Pier. The name Knockadoon (Cnoc an Dún) means ‘Hill of the Fortress’ suggesting the site was the seat of a chieftain in prehistoric times. This walk loops around the eastern of the two headlands that define the East Cork coastline. Knockadoon Head marks the western limit of Youghal Bay. The walk runs first on the cliff edge on the east and south, and then turns inland to return to Knockadoon Pier by road. At the highest point on this headland stands a tall square tower that appears medieval but, on closer inspection, proves to be a Napoleonic War lookout tower. Nearby stands a much smaller, concrete lookout post from the ‘Emergency’, as the Second World War was called in Ireland. From hear the view of Capel Island is magnificent and you can even see Youghal quite easily. Capel Island is named for the De Capella family who came to East Cork about 1180. Their descendants transformed themselves into the Supple family. Capel Island is topped by an incomplete nineteenth century lighthouse. When the SS Sirius, the first ship to steam from east to west across the Atlantic sank in 1848, the authorities suddenly realised that Capel Island was the wrong location for the lighthouse so they moved it to a new one built at Ballycotton. The island is a bird sanctuary and is usually inaccessible.
Please note that this walk is not suitable for children. This is classified as a moderate walk of approximately 8 km.
Ballycotton Cliff Walk
One of the first walks in East Cork, the Ballycotton Cliff walk is designed to blow away the cobwebs and expose the walker to wonderfully fresh see air, with views to match. Start at the southern end of Ballycotton beside the famous 1930s lifeboat, RNLI Mary Stanford, and head west along the cliff towards Ballytrasna. This up and down trail can be demanding in places, so sturdy shoes or boots are recommended, as well as a stick. The route passes the site where the SS Sirius went aground in 1847. At Ballytrasna the trail loops inland to join the narrow road back into the village of Ballycotton. You can also try the reverse route with Ballycotton Lighthouse as your waymarker indicating your destination. Ballycotton itself is an ancient settlement – prehistoric shell middens indicate that settlement here goes back to the Mesolithic period just after 10,000 years ago. The present village stands on the site of a medieval village that was owned by the Bishop of Cloyne. He was entitled to a certain amount of fish for his table, and a hen from each family at Christmas! Don’t be fooled by the present long village, the original village lay just below the present Catholic Church. Only in the nineteenth century did it stretch to the present pier, which was built in the 1850s.
Ballymaloe Farm Walk
The visitor has a choice with this one, since there are two such walks in different locations! The Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Walk takes the visitor around the organic farm attached to Ballymaloe Cookery School at Kinoith House just north of Shanagarry village. Start at the Shell House and stroll through the wildflower meadow to the ‘living dragon’ Nessi, a willow trained over arches to resemble a friendly dragon! Go through the Butterfly Doorway to the vegetable garden which flourishes in the rich warm soil of East Cork. From here you can visit the Glasshouses for the more delicate produe. Then go on to visit the friendly inhabitants, the pigs and cows, and the hens in the Chicken Coop. The gentle walk takes you back to the Garden Shop, and a refreshing cuppa!
The alternative Ballymaloe Farm Walk is at Ballymaloe House itself, on the western side of Shanagarry. The three hundred acre farm can be explored using a map available from reception at Ballymaloe House itself. The name Ballymaloe means ‘Town of the Honey Milk’. So you really are in the land of ‘milk and honey’ here!
A new addition to the walking repertoire in East Cork, this trail was opened in 2017. It links the villages of Ladysbridge and Castlemartyr via Mitchell’s Wood. Start at the car park in Ladysbridge. The first section runs alongside open farmland. (Please keep dogs on a lead.) The walk leads into the southern part of Mitchell’s Wood, originally part of the Castlemartyr Demesne. There are several walks to take in the wood, and you can even to and visit the medieval ruins of Ballyoughtera church before returning to Ladysbridge. William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania, was one of the first people to mention Ladysbridge, for he was a frequent visitor to a close friend who lived there. This is a nice and gentle walk of less than five kilometres.
Loughaderra Lake Walk
If you are looking for a gentle but decent walk, this is a nice one. It loops around Loughaderra, the lake situated beside the N25 between Midleton and Castlmartyr. Park either beside the lake at the picnic area on the N25. The traditional route is to head east and then turn right off the N25 onto a narrow, winding boreen (country lane). At the next junction, turn right again and continue until you arrive at the Community Centre. Turn right again, passing Ballintotis church. The car park offers a great view of the lake and it also has a mass grave from the Potato Famine of 1845-1850. Follow the road to the N25 and turn right to arrive back at the picnic area. The alternative is to park at the church and follow the same route. Please do not feed bread to the swans and ducks in the lake – it’s bad for them!
Rostellan to Whitegate, the People’s Walk
This is a walk that many people don’t consider. Start at Rostellan village where the causeway leads to the woods. Head along the causeway about half way, until to come to the three milestones embedded on the right hand wall. These indicated the distances to various venues in 1738. Distances are given in Irish miles! Return towards Rostellan and start your walk at the small park. Nearby stands a memorial to a local riot when the starving poor attacked a mill that produced starch from potatoes. The walk is a wide footpath leading west to Whitegate. It runs along the shore of Cork Harbour and offers great views of Spike Island and Cobh. The road beside the shore was only built by the Americans in 1918/1919. The US Navy arrived in Cork Harbour in May 1917, and in Frbruary 1918 the US Naval Air Service took over the shore between Aghada and Whitegate for the most important US Naval Air Station in Europe. Aghada Tennis Club stands on a key part of the site – with an apron running into the water for the sea planes. Nearby Subroan House was used by officers at the base. Aghada Pier is a remnant of the busy steamer trade crossing the harbour into the early twentieth century. It was actually easier to go shopping in Cobh (then Queenstown) than in Midleton at the time! The walk eventually arrives at the former little fishing village of Whitegate. The walk is level but is located beside a busy main road.