A Cork Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point

Lough Hyne

Lough Hyne or Loughine is a saltwater lake between the town of Skibbereen and the village of Baltimore in County Cork and was designated Europe’s first Marine Nature Reserve in 1981. It was originally a fresh water lake over 4,000 years ago but as the seas rose they spilled over a lip into the lake, making it a marine lake.

The lough is 50 metres deep and about 60 hectares in area. This marine lake is connected to the sea by rapids. It fills up twice a day with the rising tide, then drains rapidly down a narrow gorge. The Irish (Gaelic) name for the lake is Lough Oighean, meaning ‘cauldron’, very apt.

Night Kayaking & Bioluminescence

Lough Hyne County Cork

It is a very popular location for swimming, diving and kayaking, particularly night kayaking to witness the bioluminescence for which this sea-lake is famous.

Microscopic organisms called phytoplankton store up light energy in the day then release it when disturbed by night. This light, called bioluminescence needs total darkness. When the kayak paddles break the inky black surface of the lake, the light show begins, like fairy dust, quite a magical spectacle and one which must be seen by the naked eye as it would be quite difficult to photograph or record without specialised equipment. An opportunity for a unique digital detox experience!

Bioluminescence can be seen all along the West coast but the stillness of Lough Hyne is what makes it particularly spectacular here.

Walking at Lough Hyne

From Lough Hyne you may take a 2 kilometre walk up Knockomagh Hill, also part of the Lough Hyne Nature Reserve and a designated Special Area of Conservation. The walk takes approximately 1 hour up the 197m high hill but the reward of panoramic views from the summit is worth it.

You can download the illustrated Knockomagh Hill Nature Trail leaflet provided by Skibbereen Heritage Centre from here.

Getting here

The next stop on the route is Baltimore Harbour 6 kilometres away, less than a 15 minute drive.