Sheep’s Head Peninsula is the narrowest of the fingers of land that extend out from Ireland’s south west mainland into the roaring Atlantic.
Nestled between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay, the peninsula and its many trails are a walker’s delight.
The Sheep’s Head Way is a 175km loop of the peninsula, beginning and ending in Bantry. The trail follows the north coast of the peninsula to the scenic lighthouse at the very tip, before returning along the south side, passing through the pretty villages of Kilcrohane, Ahakista and Durrus.
Moderate in grade and taking six days to complete, the terrain is very varied. Walkers can expect old boreens, open grassy and heathery moorland, field paths, quiet country roads and some short stretches of woodland paths. The aggregate ascent over the whole route is 2,190m, which includes a few long ascents.
The trail’s sprinkling of villages provide spots for welcome refreshment and overnight accommodation too.
- The narrowness of the peninsula means that views of the salty Atlantic Ocean are almost constant - even at the route’s highest point, 300m above sea level, on heathery Seefin Ridge.
- Along the route you may spot the remains of an old copper mine, a blow hole, ancient stone circles and standing stones, a Napoleonic signal tower and old church ruins.
- Keen-eyed walkers may even be rewarded by the sight of dolphins and whales off the westernmost tip of the headland.