Glengarra Wood provided me with a good life lesson. The best time to undertake a riverbank walk is definitely directly after heavy rain.
I had spent the morning touring around Cork with my sister and niece. We braved the elements to take in the ambush site in Béal na mBláth and took shelter afterwards in the nearby Independence Museum in Kilmurray.
I had hoped to break up my return journey from Cork that afternoon with a short hike. Sitting in traffic just outside Cork city, as the rain continued to pour down, I didn’t hold out much hope that a walk would be viable. However, as I got moving along the motorway the day brightened up. I decided to go ahead and stop off in Glengarra Wood. And I definitely made the correct decision. Seeing the power of the swollen Burncourt River was a real treat.
Getting to Glengarra Wood
Glengarra Wood is located on the foothills of Galtymore, close to the M8 motorway between Mitchelstown and Cahir. A large carpark is located just off the R639. Starting from the carpark, there are 3 marked routes available to walkers starting from the carpark in Glengarra Wood:
- The 1.6km Looped Walk (red markers);
- The 2km Scots Pine Walk (blue markers); and,
- The 7km Millennium Trail (green markers).
I chose to do the 7km Millennium Trail, so called as it takes in the newer Millennium Forest as well as the much older Glengarra Wood.
What is The People’s Millennium Forest?
Alongside Glengarra Woods is a relatively recent project aimed at restoring and managing native woodlands. In the year 2000, 16 woodland areas across Ireland were planted with Oak, Ash, Scots Pine, Yew and Birch trees. In total, the new forests covered over 1,500 acres with 1.3 million trees planted (a tree for every house in Ireland). Glengarra Wood was chosen as one of theses Millennium Forests. The new trees are an addition to the existing forest which has been in situ here for centuries.
Glengarra Wood Millennium Trail
The Millennium starts off via an uphill gravel track through the forest.
The gravel soon gives way to a worn earthen path through the surrounding woodland.
The sound of the Burncourt river is a constant companion as you walk through the woods and there is lovely views to your right of the greenery of the river valley as you continue to move uphill.
Significant tree felling is evident to your left for a short section of the walk. After about 1.5km I entered into the new Millennium Forest for the first time. The entrance is over a stile and into along a lovely tree tunnel.
The Burncourt River
The sound of the river gets louder with each step I take and it’s building up a keen sense of anticipation within me. I haven’t seen the river at all yet. When I do, the waterway is very impressive. It’s not the biggest of rivers but with so much rainwater added to the downhill flow of the water, it just seems really powerful.
After spending a good few minutes watching the water speed by I continue along my way. This time along the access road that runs alongside the river. Soon I am crossing a bridge over the Burncourt. Once across the Bridge the next point of interest is the Glengarra Mountain Lodge.
Glengarra Wood Mountain Lodge
The Viscount of Lismore built the mountain dwelling in 1872 as a hunting and fishing lodge. The site has more recently been used as a youth hostel. Up until 2012 when it closed for business. The building is now used for community events. While I was walking there were signs up for an upcoming Wellbeing Day to be hosted there. It certainly has good surroundings for helping with mindfulness.
Onwards and Upwards
Continuing uphill, you enter into the next section of Millennium Forest. I really enjoyed the wonderful array of colours along this section of the walk. Wildflowers and flowering gorse mixed up lovely red berries in the trees.
You need to be careful in this section as there is a fork on the road around the 3.5km mark which is not clearly marked. Uphill and to the left is a route up to Galtymore (which looks like a good walk by the way). However, to stay on the Millennium Forest Trail you need to stay right. The green marker is somewhat difficult to see as it surrounded by dense green bushes.
The Burncourt Ford
You will know you are on the right trail if you come to a shallow ford over the Burncourt River.
And yes, you need to ford the river to continue along the route! I’m not going to lie; it is a little tricky to get across. Luckily, there are some stepping stones under the water level. Concentration and good waterproof boots are a must. I managed to get across and still keep my feet dry. It might not be to everyone’s liking but I thought it was good fun and added to the walk.
Completing the Loop
It’s generally downhill for the 2.5 – 3km along a rough forestry road. You are mostly either walking through woodland or skirting along the edge of it.
I found the final piece of navigation the most difficult part of the route. There is a turn to the right to bring you off the forestry road and into the woods themselves along an earthen path. The trouble for me when I was there, was that I couldn’t find any markings to show where the turn was. Added to this was the fact that there are 3 such paths in close proximity to each other to choose from.
My tip here is that if you find that the forestry road turns into a bigger tarmacked road then you have gone too far. You then need to retrace your steps and pick one of the 3 paths into the forest. In any event, they all general lead you towards the end point of the Millennium trail.
Next up, I cross the Burncourt River one final time which is a fitting ending to this trail. On this occasion it’s over a wonderful modern bridge which still manages to fit perfectly into its forested surroundings. Crossing the bridge brings you back to the car park where you started.
And that’s it! The full 7km of the Millennium trail completed. Overall it’s a really picturesque forest and river walk. Definitely well worth a stop.