Type of RouteArrowsDistanceGradingEstimated TimeTotal Climb
Loop WalkRed10 kmModerate3 hours232 m

Knockaphuca Loop Walk is on quiet country roads, open hill and grass tracks with great views of rolling hills and both Dunmanus and Roaring Water Bay. From the mapboard at Goleen, follow the red arrows down past Goleen Pier along the quiet road. At the T-junction onto the R591, turn right heading east for 200m, before turning right onto another quiet boreen for another 1.5km. The trail then crosses the R591 and follows a grass track to start the climb to the Cross on Knockaphuca Hill. The climb is worth the views. The trail meanders steeply downhill to a quiet road, before turning left to follow quiet roads back to Goleen village. Tip: Walk this trail in reverse for a much easier descent.

Walkers of good fitness and ability should be able to complete the walk, without difficulty, in 3 hours. 

Walk Guide

The Knockaphuca Loop Walk route is marked with RED arrows which you need to look out for. 

Start at the cross roads in the centre of Goleen where you will see the Trailhead Map (1) on the wall of a building. From the map board, cross the road and head downhill beside O’Meara’s Pub. Very soon you will see an information board on your right which tells an interesting local story. A short detour down to the harbour can be kept for the return journey. You can see the Heron’s Cove restaurant/B&B ahead and continue on this road for almost one kilometre. You arrive at a main road (2) where you turn RIGHT and proceed uphill watching out for traffic. 

After about five minutes you will see a narrow road going off to the RIGHT (3) and there are arrows and finger boards to send you this way. Follow this very quiet country road for 20 minutes (1.7km) avoiding side turns and watching for arrows. Again, you reach the main road (4) and now you cross over, with care. 

You will see arrows directing you to follow a grassy track to the RIGHT which passes a house and soon swings to the LEFT. The track winds north for 200m and you reach a wide gate which you need to close after you go through. The path now becomes less clear but you can follow the arrows north alongside a fence, passing a small lake on the left.

Now the path climbs uphill and soon you reach the flat top of a ridge (5) which is often quite wet. 

Now follow the arrows and descend into a small valley. You might see a deserted farmhouse away to the left. The route crosses this gully and ascends northwards, over rocks, then turns north east and climbs steadily. Eventually it levels out and you get a chance to catch your breath as you traverse 500m eastwards, even losing a little bit of height as you go. Soon you reach a narrow rocky ledge, which you can walk across with care, and turn immediately LEFT up a steep shallow gully (6)

At the top of the gully the path levels out and an arrow directs you LEFT (west) up a short slope, at the top of which you go north again and follow the arrows as you zig-zag towards the summit (7). This part of the route might be difficult in mist so if you lose the arrows just keep going UP and you’ll safely reach the top eventually. 

Take a rest at the top and admire the views both north over Dunmanus Bay and south over the islands of Cape Clear, Sherkin and many others. 

Top of Knockaphuca, Courtesy Roaringwater Journal

The descent from the summit is almost due west and great care has been taken to find a safe route so please stick to the arrows and take your time as it can be very slippery. In addition to the marker posts there are yellow marks on some rocks to help you. After about 30 minutes you will descend some “steps” into a level gully (8) and things get easier. 

The path goes south for a few minutes then swings west again along a rocky ridge until it reaches the road (9) where you can relax. Turning LEFT (south) you can follow the road past a few houses until you round a bend and see a builder’s yard on your left (10) and a track leading straight ahead as the road veers to the right. Go STRAIGHT AHEAD here and after 200m continue STRAIGHT ON down a muddy path to emerge on the main road again. Keep LEFT along the grass verge (margin) for 50m then cross to the RIGHT watching out for traffic (4)

Now you might recognise the road you walked earlier and you can retrace your steps along this 1.7km loop until you meet the main road again (3) where you turn LEFT and go downhill a few 100m and turn LEFT again (2) following the quiet narrow road back past the Heron’s Cove and the harbour road. 

If you have time, take a walk down to the harbour and read the interesting boards which explain some local history and traditional crafts. 

Finally, finish the walk back into the village and enjoy refreshments in the village café or pubs. 

TIP: For a much easier descent, walk the loop in the opposite direction, i.e. clockwise from (10).

Nearing the top
Knockaphuca from afar