Carrigfadda Hill and Warrenscourt Forest are two brilliant running spots in West Cork

Warrenscourt is great for a fast semi-trail run. Carrigfadda will test your lungs and is slippy as hell at the moment but the view from the top makes it totally worthwhile.

A few months back I was browsing the Coillte Outdoors site for forests in West Cork that looked good for running in. The two most promising ones I found were Warrenscourt Forest and Carrigfadda Hill.

Warrenscourt

I’ve done Warrenscourt Forest twice and I highly recommend it. You can access it from either the Warrenscourt end or Kilmurry end and both are very short drives off the N22 near Lissarda. Whilst it’s quite steep in places, it’s very runnable with some beautiful views along by the stream.

Warrenscourt 4

The only disappointment is that two nearby lakes are on private property. They would really add to the experience. It’s mostly dog walkers at the weekend but I’ve met a couple of runners too. The dog walkers appear to be illiterate, based on most of their dogs being off the leash, despite the large signs.

Warrenscourt 1

The Warrenscourt entrance is here on Google Maps. The Kilmurry one is here. And the direct link to the Coillte map PDF is here.

Warrenscourt 2

If you need somewhere to crank out the miles in loops away from traffic and with a slight “trail” feel to it, I highly recommend Warrenscourt.

Warrenscourt 3

Carrigfadda

Carrigfadda is a different kettle of fish entirely. It’s difficult to even Google it, as there is another one near Skibbereen. This one is near Reenascreena and is down some very small back roads.

Carrigfadda 1

Eventually you come across a lone church in the middle of nowhere. It’s best to park there.

Carrigfadda 2

You have to run a few yards up an open road and then head up a lane which becomes more and more unpaved. You follow that to an open area near a farmhouse and then the real fun begins.

Carrigfadda 3

The steps seem to go on forever. Even if you are just walking, it’s hard work.

Carrigfadda 4

Finally you get a breather in the forest itself (a featureless generic monoculture pine plantation) but the steepness starts soon again. Did I mention the mud? So much mud. Lovely mud.

Carrigfadda 8

You’ll start to see a concrete holy cross peeking out and suddenly you’re nearly at the top.

Carrigfadda 9

You lift your head and pow, holy crap, the views. A genuine gasp out-loud moment. I spent ages here and at the cross taking photos and videos and panoramas. The fog and rain initially masked the fact that you can see the Altantic from here. The wind turbines seemed scarily close and are a complete eyesore. The sooner we move all this stuff offshore, the better for everyone.

Carrigfadda 10   Carrigfadda 11   Carrigfadda 12  

I then started the descent. Slightly further down is a mysterious monolith (ok ok, it turns out to be a trigonometric station).

Carrigfadda 5

Then I pegged it back down as far as the steps, slipping and sliding everywhere, and finally made it back to the car. Only 2.5 miles all-in but it felt like 10 with over 1000ft of elevation change.

I had another look at the map in the church car park and there are some other small spur routes I could have taken to extend the run. Next time.

I want to do lots more trail and mountain running in the next 12 months and I think I’ve found the perfect training ground!

Here’s a link to my Strava trace for my exact route. There’s also a lovely description of the Hill walk here.

Carrigfadda Church is here on Google Maps. And the direct link to the Coillte map PDF is here.

p.s. does anyone know what has happened to Duke’s Wood near Bandon on the way to Crookstown? It used to be a recreation area but it looks like they are cutting the whole thing down. The lack of any public forests near Bandon is a real let-down. However I must check out the tiny one beside Innishannon.

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland http://conoroneill.com