Moderately hard, takes about 5¼ hours including a lunch break.
From Cork take N22 to Macroom. Just before you get to Macroom turn left on the R584 for Inchigeelagh.From Inchigeela continue on to Ballingeary. From Ballingeary continue on the R584 and turn right shortly afterwards for Guogane Barra.This turn is signposted and there is also a statue on the left hand side of the road at this point Drive into Guogane Barra and good parking space can usually be found at the Guogane Barra Hotel.
Gougane Barra is an area of outstanding natural beauty, which is historically famous for the site St Finbarr’s island hermitage situated in Gougane Barra Lake. The source of the river Lee flows into the lake, which is surrounded by towering cliffs, which are capped by heather and boggy upland heaths. This walk is a high level circuit available around the mountains, which surround the Lake. The walk should be reserved for a clear day as much of the high ground is relatively featureless and there is always the danger of straying too near the steep cliffs. There is no easy escape from the mountaintops and the safest option is to either retrace your steps or to complete the circuit. The start and finish of the walk are characterised by tracks but the upland route is mainly pathless. The circuit can be done in either direction, my description refers to the direction I have personally walked it. This area is covered in OS Discovery Series Map No 85.
From Gougane Barra hotel GR (W 9.34 65.97) walk back in an easterly direction along the road you came in. Near the top of the lake take the left fork in the road. Continue along the tarmac road for about 1.5km when you come to a path to the left off the road GR(W 10.52 67.08). Take this path pass through a gate and you will gain height in a northerly direction. You will need to climb over some fences whilst gaining height. You will soon find a fence going up the mountain towards Coomataggart always stay on the left hand side of this fence. Where the fence turns to the left you will need to cross it. Continue climbing to near the peak of Coomataggart where you intersect the Cork Kerry county bounds GR(W09.91 68.73). The county bounds are marked by a black dotted line on the OS map. Do not climb to the peak of Coomataggart but now go in a southwesterly direction along the ridge following the county bounds line on the OS map. Your next target will be a peak at 509m. From this peak go southwards to a small Lough barely discernable on the OS map GR(W08.58 66.92) . As you gain height going away from the Lough you can find a nice place for a break if the weather is kind, which gives you a good view of Gougane Barra Lake below. Now move on gaining height towards Bealick . Pass through Bealick on the south side of the county bound line and continue following the county bound line up to GR(W06.636 65.853). From this point veer southwards away from the county bound line to Coomroe, now drop down into the saddle in a south easterly direction and cross a fence before your ascent of Conigar. On Conigar you will pass by Lough Glas ,Lough Fadda and Lough Namrat. Between Lough fadda and a small pool there is small cairn summit at 555m from this point you have a good view of the surrounding Cork and Kerry mountains. From this point you will pick up the first of a series of hillwalking signs which will guide you to the finish of the walk. From Lough Fadda you can follow a fence, which will take, you to the top of Foilastooken from here there is a fine view along the River Lee Valley. From Foilastooken GR(W07.833 64.093) continue down along a ridge as you rapidly loose height, you will be guided down by a fence on your right hand side. Care is needed in the descent, as it is a little treacherous underfoot. At GR(W08.88 65.46) you will meet a large track, which will take you down to a farmhouse with its outbuildings and gates. The final style brings you on to the road close to St Finbarr’s Church.