fbpx
Skip to content
Walking the Way of Saint Patrick

The Sheep’s Head Way

Overview

Walk through the unspoilt countryside of the Sheep’s Head peninsula in West Cork in the southwest of Ireland, between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay. Sheep’s Head comes from the ancient Gaelic, “Muintir Bháire”, the people of Bháire, an ancient tribe. The Sheep’s Head Way is a walking route of beauty and peace, taking in amazing seascapes and high cliffs, the remains of an old copper mine, a blowhole, stone circles, standing stones, a Napoleonic signal tower and numerous old churches. The sightings of dolphins and whales may even reward the most patient ones off the headland’s westernmost tip.

  • The colourful villages of Cill Chrócháin and Durrás
  • Coffee and cake in Bernie’s café, right at the tip of the peninsula
  • The laidback way of life and the friendliness of the local people
  • The incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Bantry

Arrive by scheduled bus service from Cork to Bantry. Lying sheltered behind Whiddy Island, Bantry is southwest Cork’s market town and an ancient port facility. The deep waters have hosted a succession of fleets, French, Spanish and British, which add to the good looks of the natives. In order to make the best of the walking route, your first night is spent 5km from Bantry at the start of the Sheep’s Head Way.

Day 2: Dromcloc to Glanloug | 14 km

The route starts on small farm access lanes from Dromcloc Farmhouse and climbs one of the mountain roads that cross the peninsula. At the top, it is out onto the hills, a glorious ridge walk through sheep grazing country to 223 m, before descending to Glanlough and Seamount Farmhouse.

Day 3: Glanlough to Kilcrohane | 13 km

The ridge walk continues over Gouladane, from where you can descend to Gortnakilly or continue on the ridge to Seefin, the highest point of the peninsula at 345 m. Take a rest at the Seefin Viewpoint, situated to either side of the road as it passes over a rocky ridge, two laybys offer attractive views in either direction. The walk finishes at Kilcrohane village. Your host will transfer you back to Glanlough.

Day 4: Kilcrohane to Tooreen | 14 km

Your hosts will take you back to Kilcrohane. The Way follows the exhilarating coastline of the western end of the peninsula through ruined villages and the Gortavallig Copper Mines, a Victorian-era mine for copper driven in from the cliff face at Gortavallig. Enjoy a hot beverage in Bernie’s Café at the edge of the world. Your host for tonight will collect you at this point and transfer you to Reenmore.

Day 5: Tooreen to Kilcrohane | 16 km

Morning transfer to Tooreen. Walk to Kilcrohane along the southern coastline of the peninsula. After the initial climb to the remains of a 17th-century signal tower, today’s walk is on lower ground through farms and townlands to return to Kilcrohane village. Afternoon transfer to Reenmore.

Day 6: Reenmore to Durrus | 16 km

The route follows old paths and driving roads through hillside farms to Durrus, the largest village on the peninsula. A number of Neolithic monuments in the area at Coolcoulagha and Dunmanus indicate that a significant pre-Celtic population existed there: standing stones, wells, burial grounds.

  • Accommodation: Jo-Al B&B or similar
  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 5 hours, ↑280 m

Day 7: Durrus to Bantry | 17 km

Leaving the seascapes behind, the route follows the Four Mile Water valley before climbing through the forest to Barr na Gaoithe, the Top of the Wind. A short climb completes the hillwalking before descending on minor roads to Bantry town, through the grounds of the majestic 17th century Bantry House.

Day 8: Departure

Depart Bantry by local bus to Cork.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere, cuisine and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Note that it is sometimes necessary to accommodate you a short walk away from the trail itself, as there is not always suitable accommodation close to the trail. Details will be given in your pre-departure info pack.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village inns and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

This itinerary is suitable for those walkers who do not have much experience of covering long distances, with average levels of fitness and in good health. The terrain is varied and includes old boreens (a Gaelic word that literally translates as ‘little road’), open grassy and heathery moorland, field paths, quiet country roads and some short stretches of woodland paths (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are waymarked*, and the itinerary is easy to follow. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

*The Sheep’s Head Way has its own logo, showing two sheep locking horns. This was taken from a carved stone which is passed near Bantry by walkers following the route. The stone is also notable for showing the earliest surviving representation in stone carving of a boat in Ireland. One of the features of the Sheep’s Head Way is that the waymarking has been accomplished using oak posts and stone markers in keeping with the natural surroundings of the peninsula.

When to go

This trip is available from early April till the end of October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Cork (ORK), Dublin (DUB), Kerry (KIR), or Shannon (SNN).

By train or bus
  • Cork Airport is easily accessible from the UK with the low-cost Ryanair and Ireland’s national airline – Aer Lingus. From Cork airport or Cork bus station, take a direct bus to Bantry (approx. 2h).
  • Dublin Airport: Several low-cost airlines cover the route as well as scheduled international carriers. From Dublin Airport there is a direct bus to Cork (approx. 3h30), check up to date timetables at Aircoach.
  • Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin.  The train from Heuston railway station in Dublin to Cork (approx. 2h30) runs every hour.
  • Shannon Airport: Flights are available to Shannon Airport from Dublin, Bristol, Manchester, London Heathrow and Birmingham, as well as Boston and New York JFK. From Shannon Airport, take the bus (approx. 2.30h) to Cork.
  • For further information, timetables and tickets, visit Bus Éireann, Irish Rail for details or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in private en-suite rooms (B&Bs and guesthouses)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 18 kg per person)
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information (road notes, 1:50000 maps)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

Gallery

Reviews