Type of RouteArrowsDistanceGradingEstimated Time
Loop WalkBlue8 kmEasy2 hours

Ilen River Loop Walk is an easy loop walk lasting two hours. It offers excellent views of the tidal Ilen River in its many phases.

Lough Ine hill, and the Beacon in Baltimore can be viewed as the walker turns left at Minihan’s Pub and travels along the Old Road towards Reenadonagh Pier. At the Pier the walker takes a right turn along the banks of the Ilen with views of the Islands of Innisbeg, Reengaroga and Sherkin on the opposite side. Wading birds such as the Curlew and the Little Egret can be seen on the mud flats as the tide ebbs.

There is an option at the cross road leading people to Turk Head or to Cuan Caogh or Fasagh for excellent views of Whitehall By and Cunnamore pier. Continuing on the original Trail, people will pass the only Pub in the vicinity on their way back to the Trail head.

Peter Clarke, River Ilen, Watercolour, 2019

Walk Guide

Starting from the car park (1) opposite Saint Comghall’s Church, face the trailhead board and head off to the LEFT past the road junction and up the hill in a SW direction. At the top of the hill you will see Minihan’s bar and just before it a junction (2) on your left.

Turn LEFT here and you almost doubling back on yourself but don’t worry, the road rises gently and splendid views open out to your right and left. After about 2km the road descends quite steeply to a junction (3) where you must turn RIGHT. Now you are on Reenadonagh Pier with fine views over the river Ilen.

Follow this road as it winds its way alongside the river, then up and down a few small hills, round bends and through farms. You may be able to see the islands of Innisbeg and Reengaroga in the estuary and Sherkin further out to sea. Finally, the road descends after 3km to a junction (4).

Here you need to turn RIGHT again and the road will slowly rise ahead of you round more bends. Take care along this stretch as it can be busy at times. Finally, the road takes a huge horseshoe bend and climbs to another junction (5) where you turn RIGHT.

A short stroll brings you to Minihan’s Pub, which you saw earlier on the walk, and this is most surely time for refreshments.

As you pass Minihan’s Pub again note the yellow Toad Flax growing on the bank. 

Continuing your journey, you are now back at the first junction (2), you need to keep LEFT and descend the hill back to Lisheen Church and the car park.

Ilen River (courtesy Roaringwater Journal)

Continuing your journey, you are now back at the first junction (2), you need to keep LEFT and descend the hill back to Lisheen Church and the car park.

Points of Interest

Lough Ine hill and Baltimore Beacon can be seen as the walker goes left at Minihan’s pub to travel along the old road. Before 1822, it was the only road from Skibbereen to the Mizen Head, leading to Dromnacara Pier. Coal was imported from Wales and off loaded at this Pier for Aughadown Creamery.

In the ebbing tide the Curlew and the Little Egret can be seen feeding on the mud flats.  The terrain across the river from the Pier is Innisbeg home of McCarthy Morrough.

Reengaroga is the next Island followed by Inane which shows an old converted Corn Mill with glass frontage and now a private residence. 

Sherkin Island, Sandy Island and Quarantine Island can be approached by taking a road left at the three crossroads, to Turk Head, but not on the official route.  On the return journey, ‘Whooleys Shop’, opened 1896 and closed in 2003, were in business for 106 years serving the hinterland and the islands.