I recently read a blog on the downside of travelling on your own. While all the points made were very true, I think there are some amazing places to visit in this country on your own, and sometimes they are even better to visit on your own. Now granted its always nice to have one person or a few people to experience new places with, on this particular galavant I was very happy to be on my own. I left Tipperary early on a Monday morning with my packed lunch, flask of tea, my camera, my (fully charged) phone and took the N24 towards the Commeragh Mountains in Waterford. Now I know what you are going to say- why would you want to go hiking up a mountain on your own? Well as I have mentioned in other posts I am not the fittest person in the world. I was really looking forward to hiking up to Lake Coumshingaun at my own pace, stopping when I wanted to take photos and not pretending to anyone that I wasn’t out of breath every 30 seconds.
The hike up to Lake Coumshingaun starts at Kilclooney wood Car park on the R676. You take the trail through the woods for about 5 minutes until you come to a small woodland road. Turn right here. You will know if you are on the right path if you pass a fake tree to the left hand side! It blends into the surrounding trees quite well but its still pretty obvious that its fake. I think it has something to do with the ESB? You will come to a small set of steps to climb over the wall at the end of this road (I have attached pictures of the tree and the stairs below so that you know you are on the right track). From here you turn to the left towards the mountains up ahead.
This is where the steady climb starts. You need to make sure that you have proper shoes for this also as there is a lot of rocks here. Always keep to the right hand side of the fence and as you make your way past the woods there is a rock jutting out of the skyline (some people say it looks like a frog). Aim to walk towards this point. The climb starts to get a bit steeper but it is incredibly do able for anyone with a small level of fitness! If you are bringing a dog with you make sure its on a lease as there are sheep everywhere.
It took me about 40 minutes to get up to the big rock. I took a break here to admire the scenery over the Waterford countryside and two lovely men joined me to catch their breath also. They informed me that they had made it in 30 minutes. They had convinced themselves that I looked like I knew where I was going so the three of us headed off towards the lake. Basically we were following the track towards the back of the big cliff face in front of us (I didn’t really have any idea if we were going the right way). We stayed on the left hand side of the hill here but in hindsight we should have walked down into the valley to make things easier on ourselves. I left the two men walk on ahead of me to make sure that I wasn’t going to put them astray again.
I carefully made my way down into the valley that has a good track laid out towards the lake. Once you get to the top of this track the amazing Lake Coumshingaun comes into view. The lake is a perfect example of a corrie lake. The lake is supposed to be freezing cold- but that didn’t stop the two men I had met on the way and their family. I wasn’t so brave to take the plunge though. If you are just walking up to the lake it should take approx 45 mins to an hour to make your way up and its quicker obviously on the way down.
From here I headed up along the faint track of the ridge on my left towards the peak with all the boulders on it (It may have been easier to walk back towards the rock shaped like a frog but I thought this may be quicker). This is where the climb got pretty steep. I made my way up onto the main ridge and the climb became easier for about 5 minutes! The track here doesn’t become obvious until you get close to it. The views of the lake and the surrounding countryside are amazing. I made my way cautiously up to the boulders at the top of the cliff. This is where a stick would have come in handy but I just took my time and in certain points I was climbing on all fours! Once you get to this point most of the hard climbing is done. I stopped here for my lunch and took a rest for half an hour. The views all the way over to the copper coast in Waterford were outstanding. From here you can follow the ridge towards the top of the cliff above the lake. I decided to finish my hike here but you can continue on and there is just one other push to make it to the top of the mountain. I was very proud of the progress I had made for the day and I started my hike back down. Again a stick would have been a great help, as in parts I was on my arse shimmying my way down the steep bits.
In total, I was walking for three hours but that included my jaunt down to the lake. If you follow the track all the way around the top ridge of the cliffs it should take you no more that 4 and a half hours around the loop. The views over the lake from the top are supposed to be amazing on a clear day and you may even see all the way over to Hook lighthouse in Co Wexford. I will definitely be trying this again when I am a bit fitter- and yes I will bring someone with me!
Do not try and attempt this hike unless you have a proper pair of walking boots or runners on you. Take a bottle of water,a snack and a phone and if you are on your own tell someone where you are going. Its well worth it though for the views alone. I have attached some links below to help you plan your trip and as always- Happy Galavanting! xxx