There are few hikes in Ireland as rewarding as the Coumshingaun Lough walk.
In fact, with a glorious ragged beauty that only Irish landscapes seem to provide, there are few places in Europe that offer views as mighty as the walk up around Coumshingaun Lake.
Forming a majestic natural amphitheatre, the pear-shaped Coumshingaun Lake is flanked on three sides by rocky cliffs and offers magnificent views across County Waterford from its summit.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about making the epic journey that’s widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Waterford.
Table of Contents
The Coumshingaun Lough Loop Walk: Quick need-to-knows
Absurdly picturesque, Coumshingaun looks like the sort of landscape that you’d find in a fantasy world video game or a Lord of the Rings-type film.
So be prepared for some deadly views! But just because it has a Hollywood-ish quality to it, don’t underestimate the challenge. Since it’s a lake we’re talking about (obviously), the Coumshingaun lough walk naturally forms itself into a loop.
The 7.2km trail is easy to navigate your way around, but it’s very strenuous in places. While the walk can be enjoyed in all seasons, it’s wise to take it on from April to September for the best conditions.
1. How long does it take to walk to Coumshingaun Lake?
With the cliffs behind the lake rising up to 1,200 ft, this can be a demanding walk at times and should take around 4 hours to complete.
There is a shorter version available that takes between 2 and 2 and a half hours but we’d recommend taking on the full Coumshingaun Loop Walk for the most rewarding experience.
2. Is it difficult?
Getting to the top of the cliffs can be a challenging hike with little time for chit-chat, but once you make it to the top it’s a much easier and conventional scramble around the rocky summit.
The entire Coumshingaun Lough loop comes with a range of different environments for you to throw yourself into. Be prepared to take on forest trails, exposed hill walking and gorse and heathers.
There’s also high-elevation scrambling, levelled off easy walking and rocky terrain (when you’re descending down the other side).
3. What to bring with you
A camera, of course! Or, just take photos on your phone. It’s much easier. But I digress. For the Coumshingaun Loop Walk, you’ll want to pack some sturdy walking boots and a raincoat, just in case.
You should also pack something to eat and a bottle of water. It’s always good to fully charge your phone too since it’s a long old hike.
4. One final note
As always, please be careful when heading off on any long-distance hike in Ireland. Be adequately prepared, do your research and let people know where you’re going.
Don’t attempt hikes that you’re not able for and make sure to leave no trace behind you. If in doubt, you can always join a guided hike up around Coumshingaun.
The Coumshingaun Loop Walk: Parking, where to start the walk and what to look out for
OK, so you have a fair idea of what the bones of the Coumshingaun Lake Walk involves. Now it’s time to get into the trail itself.
In the section below, you’ll discover everything from where to park and where to start the trail to things to look out for and more.
How do you get to Coumshingaun Lough?
The easiest way to get to the starting point for the Coumshingaun Lake Walk is to drive (stick ‘Coumshingaun Lough Car Park’ into Google Maps.
If you’re driving, you could easily base yourself in Waterford City (35-minute drive) or Dungarvan (20-minute drive). You could to the loop walk one day and then the Waterford Greenway the next if you fancied it.
If you’re not driving, it’ll be a little trickier. For those of you not driving, your best bet is to rent an Airbnb somewhere nearby. Here’s a handful of places you could try.
If you book a place through the link above we’ll make a tiny commission – you won’t pay extra, but it helps us pay the bills, so it’s much appreciated!
Where to park
Park up in Kilclooney Wood Car park on the R676. From there it’s a simple wooded walk towards to the lake. The drive down from Dublin along the M9 is about 180km and should take just over two hours.
If you’re coming up from Cork via the N25 then the 100km journey should take about an hour and a half. Leave no valuables on display in the car!
The trail: Where to start and what to expect
Once you’re parked up at Kilclooney Wood Car Park, you’ll be able to then follow a pleasant stony path that heads west through shaded woodland with tall trees on both sides.
After a few minutes, you’ll reach a small woodland road where you’ll need to turn right. You should pass a fake tree (no, me either!) on the left-hand side which means you’re on the right track.
Soon enough after this little wooded hors d’oeuvres, the mountains will begin to take shape and it’s time for a trek northwest towards a large boulder on the skyline.
Getting into the belly of it (where things start to get hard!)
This is where the Coumshingaun Lough walk starts to get hard. This section up toward the ledge of the amphitheatre is one of the most challenging on the whole trail and may take up to 40 minutes to complete.
Steep and rocky, it’ll test your fitness but should be manageable. Once you’re up you can stop to take a breather and appreciate the magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding Comeragh Mountains.
From here you can also appreciate the steepness of the cliffs below! Make your way along the rocky ridge towards the Comeragh plateau. There’s no climbing for this section but it’s at a high elevation.
Just before you reach the plateau there’s a steepening with a sheer drop on either side so take this part carefully, particularly if you’re making walk during wet conditions.
Reaching the top (viewwwws)
Once safely on the Comeragh plateau, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the mightiest views Ireland has to offer! Coumshingaun Lake sweeps out before you and the cavernous cliffs form their spectacular theatre.
On a clear day, the vistas stretch out to the Knockmealdown Mountains, the Waterford lowlands and the distant glimmer of the Copper Coast and the Atlantic Ocean.
You’ll also be able to view (and walk to, if you really fancy a challenge!) Fauscaum which, at 792 metres high, is the tallest point of the Comeragh Mountains.
Making your descent and wrapping things up
Continuing the Coumshingaun Lough Walk loop, you’ll need to continue over to the north side of the corrie lake where you’ll see some of the lake’s most dramatic cliff faces.
You’ll start your descent here along the wonderfully named Stookangarriff Ridge. Immense as this section is, it’s heathery and uneven and can get quite tiresome.
You’ll just need to plough through it until you reach the easier ground near the lake. Finally, you’ll cross the moraines at the entrance to Coumshingaun where you should see a path that ascends across from the large boulder from earlier on in the walk.
From here it’s an easy saunter back to the car park.
Wrapping things up
If the walk takes longer than 4 hours, then don’t worry about it. The Coumshingaun lake walk is a demanding trek alright but a unique and thoroughly one.
As mentioned above, make sure you’re well prepared for the walk to ensure that you’re ready for every weather condition and uneven surface.