The following 5 walks include a green or ‘off road’ element which means you will be walking across farmland. Please remember to shut all gates, keep dogs on leads, don’t litter and no fires. They are graded from 1, which is easy, up to 5 which is cross country up a mountain.
Foreshore Walk – 1 mile
A council maintained footpath joins the tennis courts at the east end of the village to the ruined church and graveyard at the west end. You go via the Pier, the new Sailing Centre and several little sheltered rocky coves. The last one is the ‘Dogs Hole’ a favourite swimming spot in summer. There are a couple of stiles to cross at the western end of the path. Return to the village along the Colla Road or continue to Walk 3.
Colla Ring – 4 miles
Starting at the ruined church and graveyard on the Colla Road, continue south for 1.5 miles until you come to a fingerpost directing you to ‘Toad Hall Kennels’. This is the start of the short route and follows the old road to Schull, now a track, which winds steeply uphill through a farmyard. The track improves towards the end, which is marked with a gate.
Turn right (rejoining the long route) and continue downhill to Schull. Alternatively for the long route, continue on the main Colla Road past Colla Pier and the old Colla House Hotel. Bear right and continue onto the T-junction. Turn right and follow the road over the hill, bearing left and then turning right to rejoin the Colla Road at the old ruined church. Turn left for Schull village or turn right and rejoin Walk 1.
Derryconnell – Letter – Barnacleeve Gap – 9 miles
Starting at the East End Carpark, head east along the main Schull to Ballydehob road for 2.3 miles. Turn left at the sign for Derryconnell House. 350 yards down the road there is a gate and a track on the left just before the first house. Follow the track bearing right around the old farmhouse and keep right through the gate onto the tarred road.
Turn left and take the next right (just after cream coloured cottage) onto the green road, which winds its way uphill to the east of Barnacleeve Gap with stunning views. The track eventually emerges onto the main Letter road through a gate and a farmyard. Turn left here and continue to the T-junction. Turn left again and follow the road to the top of the gap, which is the highest point of the walk.
Continue downhill to the Y-junction. The right fork brings you back to Schull while the left fork takes you past the old workhouse and back down to the Schull to Ballydehob road.
Old Ballydehob Road – Dereenatra – 6.5 miles
The first 2 miles is a green road. Start at the east end of the village and take the right turn at Cadogan’s Strand towards the old golf club. About half a mile along the road turn left up the track – just before the old mill house. Behind the house you will see the old track ahead of you.
This is the start of the old Schull to Ballydehob road, unused for many years now and remaining today as a footpath, muddy and overgrown, but quiet and beautiful. You will have to climb over and under a couple of gates, use stepping stones over a stream and practically crawl through a tunnel of fuchsia near the end. BUT it’s worth it! Cross one tarmac road and find the track again for a short way. When you come to the second tarmac road turn right (south) towards Dereenatra – a lovely swimming spot.
Mount Gabriel – 5 miles
There is no right or wrong way up Mount Gabriel and it can be accessed from all sides. It can be quite cool at the peak even on warm days so bring something warm and adequate boots.
Coming from the village, turn right at the bus stop at the top of the village. After a 600m road walk turn right onto a narrow tarmaced road. It beds sharply to the left after 500m; then after another 200m take a right turn. Walk 700m on a tarmac road ending at a house. Go through the gate then immediately right through another gate (please close gates after you) – you are now heading onto the hillside. Follow a vague track for a few hundred metres then veer off left onto another track. Follow where it becomes a stoney track until you reach a flat boggy section. Veer off to the left, go through fields of rough pasture with old stone walls, aiming to the right of an old stone ruin. Now the real climb starts!
Halfway up the steep climb one crosses a linear marsh from where you can loo across to the radar domes at the summit. Keep going straight up crossing another area of flat marshland. When you reach the ridge near the end of the climb turn right towards the summit keeping to the ridge. On the far side of the ridge there is a large flat marsh with a fence running through it. Drop down to the marsh and follow the fence, climbing a little to the small mountain lake. Head over two small hills towards the radar domes. Keeping the first radar dome to your right go over a low collapsed fence to the surfaced road between the domes. Half way along, a track to the right takes you to the Trig Point.
Now take a breather and enjoy the views – Mizen, Roaring Water Bay, Dunmanus and Bantry Bay all the way to the Macgillycuddy Reeks in Kerry!
One can return the same way, aiming for the Western side of Schull harbor as a rough guide. Or you could look for the copper mines on the eastern slopes by aiming for the road a little below the mountain gap on the Schull to Durrus road.