Ballincollig, Co. Cork – Regional Park – The gem amongst the treasures!
Are you busy with Christmas Shopping?
No time to relax?
You don’t like to use an app for being mindful of your mental health? (Like me! )
And you think sports is a murder? You don’t like going to a gym? Me, neither.
But you are curious, to find a way to combine a bit of everything with a valuable outcome?
Let me take you out for a walk this weekend (or one of the next). Not that far away and suitable for everyone.
For singles, for couples, for dog walkers, for runners, for explorers, for nature lovers, for Christmas shoppers (before or afterward), for elderly people, for our youngest family members, for students of all age and for families and not to forget for all in Cork City, who are dependent on public traffic!
The highlight all year round:
Ballincollig Regional Park
Good for short and long walks, to enjoy the nature, to incidentally experience a bit about Cork’s history and most of all get a relief from the stress by taking a deep breath.
Between November and February, it is opened from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during the spring, summer and early autumn the park’s opening times are extended in the evenings.
3 entries: One in the east, one in the middle and one in the west. Every entrance offers different options.
Sounds interesting to you?
Let’s start in the east. If you take the bus from Cork City Center, here are the timetables:
Get off the bus at East Gate (if you are new in Cork, just ask the bus driver) and go into the same direction as the bus is driving on. Cross the street at the traffic light and walk through the huge gate. Keep being on the right side and use the small street to the right (opposite McDonald’s) down to the GAA pitches. At the end is the eastern entrance to the Regional Park. This short walk might be 10 or 15 min, depending on your pace.
And if you’re coming by car, Carrigrohane Road (R608) is the main road in Ballincollig. And if you are not familiar with the area watch out for the Aldi-sign. Depending on which direction you are coming from, either from East or from West, here is the traffic light and the huge gate you need to go through. The rest of the description is same as for the pedestrians.
Royal Gunpowder Mills
And now you will step into an open-air museum. Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed back in 2002 and sign-posting with information about the buildings is missing.￼
This map shown above is to find on Corkheritage.ie. Thank you to Kieran McCarthy for his allowance to share that map with you.
When you walk through the gate, you will step into a time almost 170 years ago. Middle of the 19th century “The Royal Gunpowder Mills” was a large employer with about 500 workers (men and boys) near Cork. The site was chosen by the owner Charles Henry Leslie because it was next to River Lee and near Cork Harbour. For more historical background information, I’d like to refer to Corkheritage.ie.
There is a small path to the right, a few meters away from the gate, which leads to the reconstructed mill and the Incorporating Mills Area. It is really only a path and it might be slippery on some stage. Though best is to be dressed in proper shoes. Going on the tarred surface, you are surrounded by a few ruins. Would be interesting to know, what exactly happened in each of these buildings, wouldn’t it?
A few meter further you will cross a very little bridge over a dried out canal. And now you have all possibilities such an open-air museum offers. You can, of course, stay on the tarred surface, however, you will miss most of the ruins that can be discovered. They are hidden in the forest. The natural path to the right through the forest is absolutely worth it. Might be a bit muddy here and there.
Mother nature has taken back almost everything and sometimes you need to take a 2nd look to a) see, if there is a ruin and b) imagine, what it was used for.
It’s a big exciting adventure playground! That means on the other hand: Be dressed properly (and I don’t refer only to shoes) and watch your steps. And if you are there with your children, please mind them all the time. Would be a pity, if some of them get hurt by climbing and moving.
You have always the possibility to go back to the tarred surface. Along there, you will find information boards about flora and fauna.
Here is an example:
Most of the ruins are located in the east part of this wonderful park. However, in the middle and eastern section, there are a few important, too. Today again I was strolling through the park, and it was raining. It didn’t matter to me.
I started at the middle entrance, which is at the end of Innishmore Lawn, next to the school and the church. Here you can choose which path to take, right to the open-air museum and left to the playground area. On both sides, you have after a few meters the option to cross the canal and follow here one of the other paths. It doesn’t matter what direction you go, you will always have the option to chose between 3 or 4 different walking options. Tarred surface, straightened natural path and natural path.
There’s a bus stop at Ballincollig West (Opp The White horse) at the main road which can be used for both entrances, the middle and the eastern one. When you get off the bus, seen from Cork direction, cross the street and if you turn right and next left it will take you to a T-junction. Turn right and then first left. This will take you to the middle entrance.
If you turn left, then you can walk down the Inniscara Road to the eastern entrance. Both distances can be walked in about 10 – 15 min. All car drivers can follow these directions, too. At each entrance is a car park available. Keep in mind that the western car par might be quickly filled up.
The Watch House marks the entrance to the western part of the park. It is a good start for everyone, particularly for the youngest. The fantastic playground provided give them a brilliant time. And you as parents have a few moments to take a deep breath and watch or supervise them.
If you want to start for a run or a walk from here, there again are plenty of options to go for. To the right or the left, on a tarred surface or on a natural path, short or long distance, in a loop or to and back.
Enjoy the time at this wonderful location. I’m sure you will come back!