The Coumshingaun Horseshoe is the finest high-level walk in the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford. It provides great views of Coumshingaun – a magnificent example of a corrie lake – as well as the countryside to the north, east and south. On a clear day, for example, the new bridge in Waterford is clearly visible as is Hook Head in County Wexford.
The terrain itself is also very interesting from a walker’s perspective – the southern spur with its rocky outcrops requires some mild scrambling in places and is reminiscent of The Reeks while the boggy plateau provides an opportunity, if time and weather allows, to explore such points of interest as Crotty’s Lake and the Mahon Falls.
The walk itself can easily be done by any reasonably fit person and it will take between 3 and 4 hours including a meal stop. Be aware though that there are precipitous drops into the corrie so great care must be taken. It is best avoided in poor weather unless you have been there before. As ever when going into the mountains observe basic precautions: wear appropriate clothing and footwear, carry a map and compass and/or a GPS unit (and know how to use them) and if walking on your own let someone know where you are going and when to be expected back. Don’t assume your mobile phone will work as coverage may not be good.
Getting There: coming from the N25 take the Carrick On Suir road (the R676) at Lemybrien and drive 10 kms as far as Kilclooney Forest car park which will be on your left.
Take the well defined path through the forest. You will exit the forest at a stile and the southern spur of the Loop will be in the distance. Aim for the rock that I’ve indicated in the following photo – there is an obvious path for the first while and then it’s just a matter of walking upwards over the moorland until you get on to the spur at the rock (or near it). From there it’s upwards and onwards!
Looking back as you make the initial ascent of the south spur there are some fine views of the countryside to the east and north:
There is a distinct path to follow:
As you ascend, Coumshingaun Lake comes into view:
The spine of the south ridge with its rocky outcrops:
At the latter end of the ridge you leave the rocks behind:
The final obstacle on the ridge is a steep section requiring a scramble onto the plateau:
Looking back at the southern spur on the right, the lake and the northern spur:
You are now on the plateau and you have left the strenuous ascent behind:
As you head towards the northern spur there are great views of the lake:
You now descend via the northern spur. Be very careful negotiating the boulders as you descend – take your time: it’s easy to injure yourself here so it’s safety first. There is a path of sorts – if you can find it – that will make the descent to just below the lake that bit easier. Then it’s an easy walk back towards the rock I indicated on the southern spur and thence to the car park.
I’ve been asked is it suitable for children. I would say definitely not unless they are used to going into the hills. The walk is challenging in parts and requires some scrambling (using hands as well as feet) – especially the last part of the southern spur just before you reach the summit plateau. Neither is that section suitable for anyone who may have a fear of heights and/or suffers from vertigo. A better option for younger children would, perhaps, be to veer off when you reach the spine of the spur and head over to the lake.