Feel you’ve been stuck inside all winter? Want to re-connect with the natural world?
If you find yourself near Glenbeigh in the Reeks District, the Windy Gap Walk is just the thing for blowing away those winter cobwebs.
This well-signposted route gets the blood coursing through the veins and weighs in with some stunning views to take the breath away. Don’t think twice, people. Get out there!
Your journey commences…
Continue uphill past the church on a quiet back road and look out for the Kerry Way ‘walking man’ way mark post. You can’t miss the ruin of Headley Towers dating back to the 1860s. It’s also known in these parts as Wynne’s Folly. Lord Headley Wynne had it built to please his wife. Paid for it by increasing the rents of his tenants. Folly indeed! Those who didn’t pay were evicted, a scandal reaching the House of Commons and featuring in ‘The London Times’.
Look out for the yellow arrow markers and in about a third of a mile, take the first left at Gowlane. Veer right and head towards the gap – hence the name! – in the mountains until you reach a stile and a gate. Hop over.
Gradually ascend to 110 m. Nice bit of action here for the heart and lungs but – wow! – enjoy those views as you climb! There’s Rossbeigh Hill and Strand, reaching out across Castlemaine Harbour; there’s Cromane and Inch. Legend has it that this is the spot from which Oisín and Niamh took to the sea, on their white horse, bound for Tír na nÓg.
The path turns into a rocky track. Climb up 130m through Cummergorm Glen to the Windy Gap. Close your eyes and breathe in that sweet fresh air! Your lungs will thank you for it!
Reach the top!
At the top of the Windy Gap follow the fence passing the shoulder of Seefin at 330m. The view from the summit is nothing short of spectacular in all directions – take in Caragh Lake, the Macgillycuddy Reeks, the head of Dingle Bay and Slieve Mish mountains. The going can be a bit soft and boggy on a rainy day so be alert.
The trail descends 120m over the next kilometre to Gortdirragh, meeting the Kerry Way trail from Glencar. Enjoy a lovely amble overlooking Caragh Lake along another rocky road. This turns into a tarmac surface upon reaching a farmstead at Cosha North.
At the four-way crossroads, follow the Kerry Way-marked sign to the left which eventually takes you to a stile. Cross it and continue along a path which will lead you back down to Glenbeigh village.
Look out for the bench. Take a minute – or five – to sit here and contemplate the view stretching out over Castlemaine Harbour. It’s a last stop so don’t skimp on enjoying the moment. Begin your descent following the way markings. This will bring you to the road just in front of the Glenbeigh Hotel, taking care as you descend.
Well earned treat awaits
Once you reach the carpark, it’ll be high time to enjoy a well-earned pint of the black stuff and some hearty food, at the Glenbeigh Hotel. After all that fabulous fresh air, one thing’s certain: you won’t need to go looking for your appetite!
Walking Grade: Moderate
Gear: Walking boots with ankle support & rain gear.
OS Map: No. 78