Gortavoher / Glen of Aherlow
Gortavoher forest is located on Slievenamuck hill overlooking the verdant farmland of the Glen of Aherlow. Aherlow or the ‘low land between two high lands’ is bordered on the opposite side by the commanding and beautiful presence of the Galty mountains. This area is steeped in history and folklore. Slievenamuck – Sliabh Muice – Mountain of the Pigs, is believed to derive its name from the herds of wild pigs that once roamed the valley. Legend has it that it was on this hillside that Fionn mac Cumhaill slew the dangerous sow – Beo, who was causing havoc in Munster at that time.
Also notable, is Charles Bianconi’s horse drawn carriage services that passed through the forest in the 1800’s via the local Coach Road stopping point. Bianconi was an Italian who played a major role in the development of coach services distributing both mail and passengers throughout Ireland. A section of one of these routes has been restored within the forest.
The car park at Christ the King offers some magnificent panoramas of the mountains. ‘Christ the King’ refers to the landmark 16 foot statue that was erected in 1950 to commemorate the Holy Year. Access to the Nature Park and a number of National Looped Trails begin here.
Things to do
Walk: There are five looped walking trails in and around Gortavoher. The Woodland Loop ( 2km, 1 hour, easy), the Bianconi Loop (4km, 1 hour 15 mins, easy), the Rock an Thorabh Loop (6kms, 2 hours 30 mins, moderate), the Millennium Stone Loop (9km, 3 hours, moderate), and the Ballinacourty Loop (10km, 3 hours, moderate), all start & finish around Christ the King car park. All offer wonderful views and a chance to take time out in nature.
Three looped walks start and finish in the nearby village of Lisvernane; Carroll’s Loop (5km, 1 hour 45 mins, easy), Padraig’s Loop (7 kms, 2 hours 30 mins, easy) and the Dolmen Loop (11kms, 3 hours 30 mins, moderate).
A section of the 89km long distance walking route, the Ballyhoura Way passes through this forest.
Cycle: There are road cycling routes that pass through the Glen of Aherlow.
Scenic drive: The drive in and around the Glen of Aherlow is memorable for its beauty and tranquility. A combination of farmland, forestry and mountains make for breathtaking views at every stop.
Explore nature: This large continuous block of forestry is over 3500 acres in size and provides a home to a selection of animals including pine martins and red squirrels.
Don’t miss our hidden gem
The Glen of Aherlow is a walkers paradise. Having a wide range of walking options with forest and mountain walks, fantastic views and a wealth of accommodation options from camping, to B&B’s and hotel options. There are a number of walking festivals run annually.