The entrance to Kinsale is dramatic. Lush green hills, Charles Fort on the right and the remains of James Fort on the left. We walked to Charles fort the following day. It is a 17th century star shaped castle (a design to resist attack by canon). It was named after Charles II and was built to protect the harbour and town of Kinsale. It was important in the Williamite War 1689-91 and the Irish Civil War 1922-23. It was occupied by a British Army garrison for 200 years. It was declared a National Monument in 1973.
We sailed on to Courtmacsherry (locally known as Courtmac), a small seaside town. We walked along the Seven Heads path which included woodland, coastal path and a fuschia walk. The friendly locals helped us to moor on the small pontoon there.
Glandore (Cuan Dor or harbour of the oaks) was our next stop. A pretty village where we enjoyed a good meal in the bistro by the harbour. We walked to Drombeg Stone Circle where excavations in 1957 revealed a central pit containing the cremated remains of a youth. Especially interesting was the fulacht fiadh. There was a trough filled with water from a well. It was heated by rolling fire warmed stones into it. In an experiment in 1957 they heated 70 gallons of water up to boiling point in 18 minutes. Meat could be cooked in it and it could remain hot for 3 hours. The adjoining hut appeared to contain the remains of a roasting oven. Very civilised for 1100 – 800BC.
Our next port of call was Castletownshend, which as the name suggests is a village that developed around a castle. We walked up the hill to the one small shop followed by refreshments in the castle cafe by the waters edge. The Mary Ann pub served us a good meal and a sup of guinness.
On our journey to Baltimore we stopped at Loch Hyne. This is an unusual seawater lake. We walked partially around it and climbed a nearby hillside. Water from the sea rushes into the lake with the tide causing a section called the rapids. We took the dingy over these at half tide, which was great until we tried to get back. Fortunately a friendly family of kayakers helped to pull us against the tide.
We took a bus to Skibbereen from Baltimore. It was a characterful town with a high street of brightly painted buildings. No chain stores here, we were told that the supermarket ‘Fields of Skibberrean’ was famous (there are lots of apparently famous places in Ireland though). The visitor centre was interesting with lots of information about the Irish famine and Loch Hyne that we had visited the previous day. We had a lovely lunch in The Church restaurant, a tastefully restored building.