Cork has an abundance of fabulous family-friendly walks, so why not get out there and make the most of your spare time!
There are plenty of family-friendly walks in Cork that cater to those who wish to spend their weekends outdoors, becoming one with nature and bonding with the ones they love. Here are nine of the best family-friendly walks in Cork sure to delight adults and children alike.
1. Carrigaline-to-Crosshaven Greenway
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Carrigaline-to-Crosshaven is a gorgeous 5km path that runs along the beautiful inlet of Cork Harbour. The estuary, teeming with life, is tidal, so try to plan your walks around the tide! High tide brings an amazing view of the shining water around the lush green banks, whereas low tide drops the water down to expose the muddy ground below. However, low tide is an especially great time for birdwatchers to attend the walk, for everything from herons to wrens come down to feast on the worms in the mud.
Crosshaven is home to dozens of yachts and ships, so you will witness the large masts and hulls bobbing up and down in the harbour. As you continue the hike along the shoreline, you may choose to follow a marked track that leads up to Fort Camden, one of three forts that were built to protect Cork Harbour. This fort is open to the public for the summer months, so bring your kids and give them a little taste of history! Fort Camden will also give you a panoramic view of the harbour, which is a stunning sight to behold.
There are also plenty of pubs, cafes, and ice cream parlours in Crosshaven for a post-walk treat with the family! For more information, visit Irish Trails.
2. Glengarriff Nature Reserve – Esknamucky Walk
The Esknamucky Walk, also known as the High Walk, ascends through the woods of the Glengarriff Nature Reserve to give you amazing views over the brush and trees to see the mountains on the horizon. You will cross a stone bridge over the flowing Canrookska River (which is near a picnic area, so grab a blanket and some sandwiches and stop for a quick snack with the kids!). Following the path, you will soon come to Glengariff’s Waterfall — a truly spectacular sight, especially after heavy rainfall!
3. Ballycotton Cliff Walk
Ballycotton is a quaint fishing town that overlooks the Ballycotton Bay in East Cork. The cliff walk takes you from the village to Ballyandreen beach along a coastal track where you are surrounded by vast meadows and the stunning cliffs and ocean below. This walk is about 10km long and you will get to look down at the waves crashing against the rocks as you gaze across the expansive ocean. The sea-breeze is sure to clear your head after a long work week, making it the perfect mini-vacation for you and your family. Also, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and falcons that reside in this area!
This cliff walk is a spectacular walk for birdwatchers. There have been over 300 species of birds seen here, including waders, ducks, the Skylark, the Short-eared Owl, the Chough and the Peregrine.
Once you end the hike on Ballyandreen beach, why not stop for a little picnic? This beach is a safe area for children to swim and it has plenty of sand to build sandcastles. And then, once you’re back in the village, stop at one of the many critically acclaimed seafood restaurants for some fish and chips! This hike is a very easy walk suitable for all ages, but, there are some stiles and rocky bits, so it is unfortunately not suited for bikes or buggies.
For more information on Ballycotton and the Cliff Walk, visit the Ballycotton website.
4. Gougane Barra Forest Park
The Gougane Barra Forest is a magnificent park that covers 339 acres in a gorgeous valley on the outskirts of the Sheehy mountains. This is a fantastic place to take your family to get away from the stresses of everyday life. The forest has towering pine trees and panoramic views over the valleys, hills, and lakes. Steeped in history, this park also has some family-friendly hikes to get your group up and active.
There are six walks in this park that a suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness.
- The Slí Ghaorthaidh (0.5km, 30mins, multi-access): An easy nature trail that takes you to 10 different historical and natural spots.
- Sli Laoi (1.3km, 1hr, moderate): A walk that takes you along the Coomroe and follows the Lee to the head of the valley.
- Slí Doire Na Coise (1.8km, 45mins, easy): An easy stroll along the River Lee to the lake and then back.
- Slí an Easa (1.8km, 1.5hrs, strenuous): A bit more strenuous, this loop passes several flowing waterfalls to a viewing point under Tuarin Beag overlooking Coomroe Valley and Loch Ghuagan Barra and the amazing red mountain wall.
- Slí Sleibhe (2.5km, 2hrs, strenuous): This is the longest and most difficult of the walks in this park, so you might want to choose one of the more flat, shorter walks around the valley if you have small children with you! This path crosses the River Lee and gives you views of Maolach, the Carraigon an Phreacháin and the old Mass path from the Borlin Valley to St. Finbarr’s Oratory.
- Sli Com Rua (0.5kms, 30mins, moderate): These paths take you along stone steps and over a footbridge crossing a gurgling stream, through the dense forest of pine and spruce trees to reach the view of the whole Coomroe Valley and Gougane Barra lake.
5. Mount Hillary Loop
The Mount Hillary Loop is a peaceful stroll up Mount Hillary on forestry roads and trails. The 10km loop will take you and your family about three hours and will take you up to the mountain’s summit at 290m. At the summit, you will experience enchanting views across the valleys of Duhallow to the Mullaghareirk, Ballyhoura, Galtee and Derrynasaggart Mountains.
6. Beara Peninsula — Dursey Loop Walk
Take your family on a trip over to the Beara Peninsula for a weekend full of hiking, fishing, sightseeing, and cycling! This peninsula is home to some of the most breathtaking walking routes in Ireland and one particular walk will even have you zooming over the ocean in a cable car!
The Dursey Loop Walk takes you over to the westernmost tip of the peninsula, Dursey Island — a beautiful, remote island surrounded by the shimmering water of the Atlantic Ocean. A cable car (originally intended to transport the people of the island and their animals safely over to the mainland) takes you over to the island where you can pick up the trail.
The loop is about 14km, so it would take the average family about 3.5 to 4 hours to complete. The sense of isolation only adds to the beauty of the island, and the fresh sea air will rejuvenate you and your family. But, be sure to not miss the last cable car home!
For more information on the trail and the cable car schedule, visit Beara Tourism.
7. Kinsale to Charles Fort Coastal Walk
The Kinsale to Charles Fort Coastal walk is an easy 5.5km route along the coast just outside the buzzing town of Kinsale which is home to a host of family-friendly activities including deep sea angling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing trips.
This easy-to-navigate walk will take you all the way to Charles Fort, a seventeenth-century Irish fort. You can opt to walk around it yourself or take one of the guided tours on offer if you want to brush up on your history of the area.
8. Seven Heads Walk: Timoleague to Courtmasherry
The Seven Heads Peninsula encompasses incredible cliffs and an extensive shoreline overlooking a magnificent sea. The entire walking path connecting the villages of Timoleague and Courtmacsherry is 42.5km, but, if you’re not up for it all in one go, there are plenty of shorter sections to enjoy.
Many hikers start this trek from the carpark overlooking Courtmasherry village, beginning their journey through dense woodland filled with beautiful varieties of flora and fauna. You will soon make your way to the shoreline connecting Dunworley Bay, Barrryscove, Ardgehane and Ballinglanna, soaking in the crisp sea air and amazing views along the way.
9. Courtmacsherry to Ballinglanna
If you are looking for a walk that encapsulates the West Cork coastline in a manageable distance, then set your sights on the path from Courtmacsherry to Ballinglanna. This 24km route takes on rocky cliffs, serene beaches, lush farmland and quaint villages. A perfect choice for birdwatchers, this path also plays host to some extremely rare birds, such as the choughs and the little egret.
Get the Gear
1. Black Diamond Trekking Poles
If you are a novice when it comes to using hiking poles for your walks, then the Black Diamond trekking poles just might be the choice for your treks along the Seven Head Peninsula. These lightweight poles perfect for all levels of walker from the casual rambler to the hardcore hiker and will save your knees from a whole lot of discomfort on the trails!
2. Scenic Walks in West Cork by Damien Enright
If you’re keen on taking in the beauty that is West Cork, be sure to grab a copy of Scenic Walks in West Cork by Damien Enright. This guide details low-level walks in the area with distinct descriptions and directions as well as engaging commentaries on the history of each trail. With walks varying from 1.5km strolls to a 13km route of Sherkin Island, this book has the perfect trail for everyone. Each route has a sketch map as well as photographs to preview before witnessing the landscape in person.
3. Lowe Alpine Airzone Z 25L
The Lowe Alpine Airzone Z 25L backpack is the perfect pack for day-hikes or everyday use. The mesh back panel maximises breathability while the side compression straps keep your load stable on your body. There are two stretch side pockets for water bottles, a front pocket for quick access items, a rain cover for when the weather turns south, walking pole attachments and more.
4. Meindl Bhutan MFS Hiking Boot
There’s something reassuring about German engineering and Meindl has a few innovations up its sleeve to prove this point. These three-season hiking boots support your ankle perfectly thanks to a Memory Foam System that shapes to fit you. As a result, they’re more comfortable than many ankle boots. The Bhutan is largely an updated design of the popular Burma range and inherits many of the strengths of its predecessor. The Gore-tex lining will keep you dry and the boots are stiff and durable so you’ll be able to rack up the kilometres. Meindl products are built to last and as a result, these boots are a little heavier but you’ll be thankful for their robustness years down the line.
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