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An Overview Of The Old Head Of Kinsale Walk (With Map)

An Overview Of The Old Head Of Kinsale Walk (With Map)

Sadly, the Old Head Of Kinsale Walk is no longer as it once was.

Now, this isn’t a new development – in 2002 the owner of the Old Head Golf Links succeeded in a Supreme Court ruling that determined no public right of access exists at the Old Head.

Which is a great shame as there’s a wealth of history (the lighthouse dates to 1853) and some glorious coastal scenery around the headland.

Unfortunately, the alternative Old Head of Kinsale Loop isn’t much to write home about, but I’ll give you a map and an overview below.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Old Head of Kinsale Walk


Although the Old Head of Kinsale loop is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. How long it takes

The Old Head of Kinsale Walk outlined in the map below covers a distance of around 6 km in total. It takes 1.5 – 2 hours to complete.

2. Where it starts

Start your stroll from the car park at Garylucas Beach (here on Maps). Alternatively, you can begin from Garretstown Beach (adds 1 to 2 km onto the walk).

3. A mainly main-road trail

The ‘new’ Old Head of Kinsale walk follows mostly a narrow road that’s frequented by cars. In my opinion, it isn’t an enjoyable trail and care is needed. 

4. Private land

There are several online ‘walk apps’ that show a trail around the coast leading up to the golf links. This is outdated information and it shows a trail that leads you on to private land, so beware.


The Old Head of Kinsale Loop

Take a minute or so to zoom in on the trail on the Old Head of Kinsale map above.

As you can see, this isn’t a scenic walk and the only highlights are the Lusitania Museum and Garylucas Beach.

If you’re looking for a good walk around Kinsale Town, try the brilliant Scilly Walk

Where to start

A good starting point for the Old Head of Kinsale loop is Garylucas Beach (one of the best beaches near Kinsale) as there’s a decent car park.

From here, you follow the loop counter-clockwise along the road.


The Lusitania Museum

The highlight of the trail is the Lusitania Museum located near the entrance to the golf links.

It’s here that you’ll discover the story of the RMS Lusitania which was was sunk in 1915 by a German U-boat.

Stopping for food

After looping around, keep walking until you reach The Speckled Door Bar & Restaurant – this is a great little spot for a post-walk feed.

From here, you’re a short, 15-minute ramble from the car park. You can round off the walk with a stroll on Garrylucas Beach.


Landmarks around the Old Head of Kinsale

Besides the natural beauty of the headland, there are a few key sights along the Old Head of Kinsale walk, from a castle to the well-known lighthouse.

There are also glorious ocean views from beginning to end (note: make sure to wrap up as it gets very windy here).

1. The Castle

things to see at the old head of kinsale

Photo by Dimitris Panas (Shutterstock)

It’s believed that Old Head (also known as Downmacpatrick) Castle was first constructed in the 3rd century, and since then has enclosed the farthest reach of the peninsula.

Nowadays, it sadly continues in that role, but instead of keeping invaders out, marks the border of the golf course.

As such, you can only view the castle from the outside. Regardless, it’s worth a look, and you can walk up to it by following the road to the golf course.

Consisting of ancient stone walls and towers, it’s a sight to behold and a place to let your imagination run wild.


2. RMS Lusitania

Lusitania Museum

Photos courtesy Shannon Forde via Failte Ireland

The RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner in the same class as the Titanic. It was sunk in 1915 by a German U-boat, during the war, around 18 km off the coast of Kinsale Head.

While you won’t see the wreckage, you can learn more about this fascinating story at the Lusitania Museum.

The museum is at the halfway point of the walk, and easily recognised by the old signal tower that soars up into the sky.

Home to interesting exhibits, the museum is well worth a visit. Be sure to head to the top of the tower for spectacular panoramic views, and a nice cup of coffee from the cafe.


3. The Lighthouse

Old Head of Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

The Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse is difficult to visit these days. Located at the very tip of the headland, access is blocked by the private golf course.

So, unless you’re a member of the golf course, it’s not easy to walk to it.

You could try and blag your way past the guards — apparently the golf course restaurant is open to the public, so if you’re heading there for lunch… You didn’t hear it from me!

The existing lighthouse was built in 1853 and is located on the southern tip of the headland behind the 18th tees.

The remains of two earlier lighthouses, built in 1667 and 1814, can still be seen near the 6th and 7th tees.


Things to do after the Old Head of Kinsale Walk

best things to do in Cork Ireland 2024

One of the beauties of the Old Head Of Kinsale Walk is that it’s a short spin away from a a number of worthwhile things to do in Kinsale.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the Old Head (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Food in Kinsale


Photos via O’Herlihys on FB

They don’t call Kinsale the gourmet capital of Ireland for nothing! There are some top class restaurants in Kinsale, each offering delectable dishes.

In my opinion, it’s hard to beat The Black Pig, Man Friday and Bastion!


2. Walks, beaches and more

Scilly Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

Still got some energy left? The Scilly walk is another decent trek, just outside of Kinsale. It’s not overly strenuous, and takes in some lovely views of the harbour.

The walk also passes a couple of the best pubs in Kinsale, including the brilliant Bulman Bar!

Following the Scilly Walk will eventually take you to Charles Fort if you’re up for it.


3. Pints in Kinsale

If you’re staying in one of the hotels in Kinsale and you fancy a tipple, there are some great spots for a sip!

Two of the best pubs in Kinsale are the Greyhound and the Tap Tavern – two old school pubs that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time!


FAQs about the Old Head Of Kinsale loop 

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long the Old Head Of Kinsale Walk takes to where to start it.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long does the Old Head Of Kinsale Walk take?

It takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on where you start the walk from and the pace you walk at. To be safe, allow 2 hours.

Where do you start the Old Head Of Kinsale loop?

You can start at either of the beaches mentioned above or at The Speckled Door Bar & Restaurant. Personally, I like to start it at the Garrylucas Beach car park.

Is the walk worth doing?

No. As you can no longer access the headland and now that the coastal section is off limits, the trail follows a country road. It isn’t a scenic walk.

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