After some unstable weather, the forecast for last week was good, so we planned to do a nice road trip somewhere. One of my favourite places in West Cork is Sheep’s Head peninsula but we hadn’t been there since 2019. So we decided to go there and perhaps even take a walk along one of the many trails there.
It was a hazy, mostly overcast day, but with a very nice temperature of around 18 degrees when we left home, so perfect weather for a hike.
Sheep’s Head peninsula is known for, well, Sheep’s Head! It’s the most western point of the peninsula, and it has a small café and a path that leads to a lighthouse – a stunning walk. But the peninsula also has some very nice small towns and villages, and of course the beautiful scenic coastal road, Sheep’s Head drive. Although in normal times the peninsula is popular for hiking it is fairly quiet, compared to some other areas.
In August 2017 we were over on holiday, and since the hotel in Clonakilty wasn’t available all week, I had booked a bed & breakfast in a village we had never really seen – Kilcrohane – because it’s fun to discover something new, especially out on the peninsulas. This was a tough time of my life when I was constantly stressed out from my nursing job, and during that particular period, I was on my way to burnout (which happened later that year). My entire being screamed for peace and quiet, and maybe it was a blessing from above that we “had to” go to Kilcrohane.
I’ll never forget that trip. Just before Bantry we turned left towards Kilcrohane, which leads to a small road along the northern side of Sheep’s Head peninsula. This must be THE quietest coastal road in Ireland. That time, there was only the sea, the landscape, some cows, and us. We saw a random cyclist and a few cars along the way, but otherwise, there was only stillness. We stopped now and then to take some photos, and I got out of the car with the feeling “I want to stay here for the rest of my life”.
So, when we now decided to go to Sheep’s Head peninsula, I wanted to take the same road, along the northern shore. This time I didn’t experience the same awe there, but it still is a wonderful drive.
To begin with, we had planned to take the trail named Goat’s path, but before we got there, we came to another car park with the start of another trail and decided to stop there to check it out. That particular spot is called Finn McCool’s seat, and when I read about it now it turns out that it’s the highest point of Goat’s path road, so perhaps even a part of the Goat’s path. From here you can start your hike on the Peakeen ridge, which according to a map will later divide into two other paths. We decided to walk to the nearest top, for as long as the path seemed good and safe. I’ve had some bad experiences of trails like this so that’s why “safe” was on the list!
We had a LOVELY walk! And we will certainly be back, especially when we have friends visiting because we want to share this experience with people. These views are fantastic and next time we’ll bring food and have lunch up there.
After the hike, we took the time for refreshments and a stroll in Kilcrohane.
Eileen’s bar is a lovely little pub, we’ve been there before and played a couple of tunes with a local fiddler that time. Now we were delighted to see it open, and of course, stopped by to support it by buying drinks and some local jams. They have a lovely outdoor area with some nice colourful furniture, and this little set inspired me to start painting my own…
This time instead of bringing our own picnic, we had lunch in Ballydehob, that after reopening seems to be thriving. There are a couple of new cafés and a new restaurant there, and the entire town seems generally very alive and well. It makes me so happy to see how well towns in West Cork have managed to cope and come back after the lockdowns.
This was also the first time at least I had lunch out, so it was a rather emotional experience for me! We’ll have to explore Ballydehob a bit more another time, because it’s lovely there.
You’ll find Sheep’s Head peninsula either going from Bantry and then towards Kilcrohane, or if you come from Skibbereen you can go to Ballydehob and then north towards Durrus. There will be road signs everywhere to guide you towards Sheep’s Head since it’s a part of the Wild Atlantic Way route.
And don’t forget to stop along the way now and then to enjoy the beauty!
I’m linking this post with Denyse Whelan’s Life this week.