Discover Ballard Waterfall
Experience the Ballard Waterfall Trail located at Mountain Barrack, just outside Mitchelstown, North Cork. Walking the trail takes approximately 1.5 hours, where you will walk on the roadway, forest track and paths until you reach the beautiful hidden Ballard Waterfall, while enjoying the country views all around. The Ballard Waterfall Trail has been managed and maintained by Avondhu Blackwater Partnership CLG since January 2020. A team from Avondhu Blackwater Partnership have been carrying out improvement works as recently as last week.
The starting point is located at the Mountain Barracks which has a spacious car park and information board. Located just off the L5659 Mitchelstown Araglen road, on the junction of the former Cork/Dublin “Coach Road” in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Please note parking is not permitted by the barrier at the Forestry entrance as this entrance is in constant use.
The route starts on a waymarked roadway with blue arrows, which then leads to forest tracks and paths. As you face the white building with Mountain Barrack signage on it, head off to your right following the trail posts. Care to be taken at both start and finish of this walk, as you are walking on main roads.
About 1 km into the trail you will come to the 2nd trail indicator. Turn down to the right onto a country boreen, continue until you arrive at a Metal Bridge. As per usual when you come to electrical fences, do not try to step over them. There is a plastic sleeve at one end that you can use to remove this wire, then make sure to replace this wire back to its original position. You are now into the woods and the waterfall is very well sign posted.
You will have views of Skeheen Mountain which has an elevation of 298 metres and is situated nearby to Curraghavoe, east of Glentalucky Mountain. The walk contains two timber bridges to cross over the water with great views of the surrounding countryside and hills.
To reach the waterfall there is a path which has wooden stairs with safety spikes and handrails, a plus for your safety. Check out Ballard Waterfall which flows into Muchnagh Stream, it links up with the Araglen River close by and these tributaries feed into the mighty River Blackwater that journeys forth to the sea at Youghal Bridge. This section of river is known for its populations of otter, salmon, brown trout, brook and river lamprey, all of which are important in terms of conservation status.
After viewing the waterfall continue to follow the blue markers on the posts, this will bring you around on the loop of this trail and again back to a main road. Maintain road safety at all times. It is approx. 1.5 km back to the Mountain Barrack car park.
The Ballard Waterfall Trail has a variety of flora and fauna depending on the time of year. It has a rich field and shrub layer for the botanists and nature lovers, along with an assortment of the usual but very important woodland animals. The mixed nature of the wood in terms of tree species makes this very pleasant for walking.
The beautiful waterfall area has an exciting history, it is regarded to have been a hiding place for Irish highwayman William (Willie) Brennan, who met his fate at the end of a rope in the early 1800’s. Brennan is immortalised in the ballad “Brennan on the Moor”, with the most famous version being recorded by The Clancy Brothers.
Ballard Waterfall Trail passes through a multi-use forest that is owned and managed by Coillte, the semi-state commercial forestry company. Forest operations, be they planting, thinning and harvesting will be ongoing in Ballard. In the interests of health and safety, this may lead to the temporary closure of the walkway from time to time to allow machinery and personnel to operate safely. Avondhu Blackwater Partnership CLG would like to thank Coillte for their ongoing help and cooperation in facilitating the walkway.
Once you have completed the Ballard Waterfall Trail, you can continue to explore the locality by walking the Blackwater Way – Avondhu, which is part of the European E8 route and follows the valley of the River Blackwater. Another beautiful walk is the Killavullen Loop Trail which follows woodland paths and forest roads, winding around Corran Mountain. There has been a marked increase in people visiting all the walkways since the Covi19 lockdown commenced especially the number of family groups availing of these fantastic facilities. While generally the walkway is kept clean, we would appreciate if all users would help to keep it litter free.
For further information on the Ballard Waterfall Trail, Killavullen Loop Trail or Blackwater Way – Avondhu Trail, please log on to www.sportireland.ie/outdoors/find-your-trails or contact Avondhu Blackwater Partnership by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 022 46580.