Shortly after we moved to Bandon, over 10 years ago, I bought a bunch of Ordnance Survey maps of the area and two books by Damien Enright called “Walks of Courtmacsherry Bay & The Seven Heads” and “Walks in and around Kinsale”. We had high hopes of being outdoorsy. To our shame, the most we ever did was to haul the kids along the short track in Kilbrittain woods, the even shorter one in Ballinspittle woods and the tiny bit longer one in Dromillihy woods.
The lack of places to safely walk in West Cork outside of towns is ridiculous. I have a separate monster blogpost coming that includes this topic. It’s a cracker. But this one is about The Seven Heads.
I’ve recently become very interested in the whole idea of trail running. By interested I mean I watch huge numbers of YouTube videos about it and revel in the incredible achievements of people who do races like The Barkley Marathons or UTMB (Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc) which started two hours ago. But a few weeks ago I finally decided I wanted to make some sort of attempt at doing it myself. Of course I had to do a pre-run, so I hauled the smaller kids out to Courtmac and the start of what now seems to be more formally called The Lusitania Trail.
As I did when dragged on walks by my parents, they hated every step. I loved every minute. The route was basically the first recommended short loop. You can read all the details over on the superb pages on Explore West Cork. In fact I printed out their directions and made a copy of that section of Map 87. In reality you need none of that, since the whole thing is now signposted as The Lusitania Trail.
It’s the ever-changing views that make this such a spectacular walk. You begin in Courtmac, then into woods with beautiful little slipways down to the water, then suddenly the first gobsmacking headland and the Atlantic.
It’s a pretty easy walk apart from places where the cows have mushed the ground up badly. Lots of stiles separate the fields and it’s completely safe. The Fuschia Walk is absolutely beautiful and you come back through the lovely Ramsey Hill cottages and then on footpath all the way to Courtmac.
I was so delighted with our trip that I vowed to come back. A few weeks passed and I repeated the route but started in Timoleague and ran most of it.
It was tough on the ankles in places but the weather was fantastic so I didn’t need trail runners.
Two weeks later I was back again. This time it was a 15 mile loop that again started in Timoleague. I found that the written directions on Explore West Cork were very hard to follow and I did a lot of recce via Google Maps and the Ordnance Survey map in advance.
In the end, yet again, the entire route was signposted and took almost no thinking on my part. The only place I got confused was on Broadstrand where you have to go the entire length of the beach before you see the steps back up to the road.
There is one very steep path up along some fields and then an old pre-Famine road.
Which eventually brings you out to this amazing view.
I got to Narry’s Cross and then I returned along some very quiet roads via Lislee and a busy main road back into Courtmacsherry.
I had to take a breather there and have an ice-cream and Lucozade.
And then the final push back to the car in Timoleague.
I fully intend to go again soon and run the entire route which is heading towards Ultra Marathon length. Well, when I say run, I mean run-walk.
The reason I wanted to write this post is that the Seven Heads walk is little more than a name for many people. It’s barely a 20 minute drive from Bandon. Probably less from Clonakilty. Much of it is completely off-road with no asshole drivers. If you are looking for some of the best views in the country and a bit of exercise, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Keep an eye out for my next post which takes this basic topic and turns it into a very long rant about the future of the country’s health.