It might disappoint those looking to explore an ancient Irish castle..but a visit to Glinsk Castle is a great little walk nonetheless!
The forecast was for low cloud and drizzle, but so far it was staying dry. I dearly wanted to go and check out the bluebells in Knockbarron Woods, but I didn’t want to walk in Knockbarron Woods having been there so recently.
After a small detour to check out the aforementioned bluebells (which were magnificent and well worth a visit!)…
…we headed off the find the nearby Kinnitty Forest trailhead, so we could check out the Glinsk Castle Loop Walk. A forest loop walk sounded ideal for the weather that had been forecasted. It is listed as 8km in length and graded as Moderate.
The first section brings you gently down hill, through beautiful mixed woodland. Ancient oaks, mature beech trees. I jokingly remarked to the husband that all this ‘downhilling’ could only mean that somewhere ahead of us was a fair dose of ‘uphilling’…how right I was! We didn’t take the detour to Kinnitty Castle, instead we turned right at the junction, and went through a deer gate to begin a gentle ascent. I was managing to get into a good rhythm with both my strides and my breathing, and started to feel I could keep this up forever. Perhaps I’d cracked this ‘walking uphill’ issue I seemed to have. Even the husband remarked that I would never have come up that section as well as that as little as a month ago. But then the puff ran out, so we stopped to ‘look at the scenery’, and have a slug of water while we were at it. Breath caught, legs rested and whistle wetted we continued on uphill.
Just before another deer gate we turned left, off the forestry track, and took a small path along a fence line, through some more gorgeous ancient woodland. The ground was a little uneven here, my walking shoes slipping a little. I kept a keen eye out for exposed roots and any other slip hazards, whilst I looked at my surroundings. I grew up on the New Forest, and this section of the walk in particular was reminding me of home! I could clear my head and completely convince myself that I was wandering through any number of favourite shady forest areas from my youth. That old saying of “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is so true, and growing up on the New Forest – well I just completely took it for granted! Youth is wasted on the young, that is another true saying in my opinion!
We came out on to another forestry road, and carried on moving uphill. Not too steep, but starting to feel relentless. We stopped for a breather at a junction and convinced ourselves that the track had to level out and give us a bit of a break at some point. I say ‘we’, but I am of course mostly just referring to ‘me’ as himself is just one of those naturally fit, mountain goat types, who barely breaks a sweat on these walks…even when he’s telling me that he’s working hard, or that a section of hill is steep/long, etc. At one point I was sending him on ahead, around corners, to see if there was an end in sight to this long uphill…but he’s a terrible liar, so I knew I just had to dig in and get on with it.
Looking back, as I type this over a week after the walk, the ascent really wasn’t that steep or difficult. The trail was good. It just felt like the hill went on forever, and I just seem to really struggle to keep going uphill for any decent length of time. I am definitely stopping less, but I am still finding I have to stop. However, the odd thing is that I’m not necessarily out of breath. My leg muscles aren’t necessarily screaming for mercy. More often than not its as if I’ve simply run out of petrol…I can’t explain it any better than that. Often, when I find I’ve ground to a halt on a hill, even I can’t work out why I’ve stopped. My legs don’t hurt and I’m not breathing hard…I just seem to have come to a stop. In a way its more like everything is suddenly fatigued, and just needs to stop for a few seconds to regroup. Anyone any ideas or suggestions?
Finally the marker arrow we were following directed us off the forest track and up through some thick heather, and I knew from checking the route map that whatever was ahead of us, we were very close to the summit. Even if only a psychological effect, that seemed to perk me up no end! After a very short path section I spied some rock piles off to the left, and we took a minor detour to visit Glinsk Castle…but it wasn’t quite what I expected!
Apparently the stones are only a ‘representation’ of the castle, and have not ever been part of the castle. Glinsk was believed to have been a timber castle, built by the Normans as a lookout, but no traces remain of the original castle.
The promised low cloud and drizzle had moved in at this point, so we didn’t explore too much of the castle. I didn’t waste my time visiting the souvenir shop on the way out either. Instead we carried on, heading downhill through a delightfully dark tunnel of trees. The path dropped us down onto another forestry track, and then took us rather steeply down across an open section of slope. The persistent drizzle was getting heavier so we didn’t dawdle to look at the scenery, across a glorious valley. Instead I hustled as quickly as my walking shoes would allow, with every slip making me more determined to start earnestly saving up for a decent pair of boots, that would give me better grip and better support for my poor ankles! Shortly we were back under tree cover, and more able take time to admire the swathes of bluebells on the forested slopes below us. All too soon, and we were dropping down a final downhill section, back to the trailhead…to our car, a flask of hot tea, and a change of dry clothes, bliss!
Runkeeper tracked the walk at just under 4½ miles, and in spite of all my stopping on the relentless and never-ending uphill section, we’d done it in just over 2hrs 20 minutes. This was also the first time I’d carried a full day sack all the way around (up until now the husband had played “pack pony”), so all in all I don’t think that was too shabby!
Whilst Glinsk Castle will definitely not feature on any coach tours soon, both Kinnity Castle and Leap Castle are nearby and well worth a visit! All joking aside though, it was a really lovely walk, and one that I really want to come back to, on a day with better weather. The views across the valleys, through the mist and low cloud, promise to be stunning on a clear day!