The Glengarriff Nature Reserve is home to over 300 hectares of oak woodland and is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year. Each season shows a different aspect of the woods and it is equally as beautiful to visit in the first flush of spring as it is during the colourful palette of autumn. There are several clearly marked walks in the woods so there is a trail for every age, ability and fitness level. Depending on how much time you have and what your energy levels are, it is always rewarding to combine a few of the loops into a longer tailor-made walk.
Most people like to do the Big Meadow Walk from the main car park. There, you would follow the directions as you would for the River Walk, but would turn left for the Big Meadow as per the signposts. This would mean that you would essentially be doing the Big Meadow walk in an anti-clockwise direction. We always prefer doing it in a clockwise direction and so although we park at the main car park, we walk up to the main entrance, and begin the walk from there.
Along this path, you will see a sign to your left for the walk leading up to Lady Bantry’s Lookout. Depending on your energy levels, you may wish to do that as a steep spur walk in addition to the Big Meadow. The Big Meadow walk itself is about 3km and takes about an hour and a half to complete at a comfortable pace.
According to online sources, the above lake was created for the rare Downy Emerald Dragonfly and judging by how alive it is with insects, frogs and birds, it has been successful.
In Autumn, this stretch of the walk is ablaze with colour from the changing leaves and it truly a sight worth seeing. At the bottom of this strip, you turn right and you will have re-joined the river which will now be on your left as you start to make your way back towards the carpark.
Key to look out for on this walk is the Big Meadow itself which will now be on your right. It is an area of old grassland that has not been fertilised or ploughed in living memory thereby showcasing a completely unspoilt ecosystem. It supports teems of insect life and wildflowers are abundant in spring and summer.
The above photo shows just one of the stately oaks living in the big meadow. This is a view of the path looking back along the way you have come or is the view that you would see if you were doing the walk in the anti clockwise direction. Either way, it is simply gorgeous!
Once you cross the river, your walk is drawing to and end and at this point, you can choose to incorporate the River Walk as it does it loop back to the car park, or you can turn right at the juncture and keep following the river back to the main carpark