Explore Cork Cork city East Cork Kinsale West towards Skibbereen Skibbereen and around The Mizen Head Peninsula The Sheep’s Head Bantry The Beara Peninsula Share If you head out of Skibb on the Baltimore road and take a left turn after about 3km, you’ll come upon Lough Hyne after a further 3km or so. Ireland’s first marine nature reserve, this tidal lake is joined to the sea only by a narrow channel, known as the rapids, but reaches depths of 45m in places. A combination of warm waters from the Gulf Stream and diverse habitats – sea caves, whirlpools, shallow and deep areas – supports an astonishingly rich variety of saltwater species here, over a thousand in less than a square kilometre. Many are rare species that are generally only found in the deep ocean or the Mediterranean, such as the triggerfish and the red-mouthed goby. Sheltered by varied slopes of gorse, woods and bare rock, the placid waters are also popular among swimmers and kayakers. To make the most of a visit, see the exhibit at the Skibbereen heritage centre first, where you can also pick up a brochure for the Knockomagh Wood Nature Trail. Beginning where the road from Skibb meets Lough Hyne, at its northwestern corner, this two-kilometre trail zigzags upwards and westwards past fine viewpoints of the lake, ancient sessile oaks and bluebell meadows, to the 197-metre summit of Knockomagh Hill, which affords a panorama of the coastline stretching from Galley Head in the east to Mount Gabriel above Schull.