The “Sheep’s Head” Peninsula which is translated from the ancient Irish name “Muintir Bháire”, meaning the people of Bháire, is the middle of the three peninsulas in the south-west of County Cork, Ireland’s largest county along the Wild Atlantic Way. The Sheep’s Head Way is a very well kept secret and is one of the least visited parts of Cork. This contributes to the wonderful peace and quiet in this most unique place.
This narrow finger peninsula is part of the old red sandstone system when the mountainous coastal region was split into several peninsulas as the sea level rose between 4000 – 7000 years ago. The rounded hills (drumlins) are the evidence of glaciation, leaving fertile sheep pastures dominated by a spine of low hills. The highest point on the peninsula is Seefin Hill at 345 m. At its busiest in 1844, the peninsula had a population 8,340 but now has just 1,300 residents.
Bantry Harbour, sheltered by Whiddy Island, is one of West Cork’s oldest ports and was the scene of an attempted French invasion in 1796. Bantry House, which was built in 1771 for the first Earl of Bantry, houses a fine art collection and is open to the public. Bantry town remains a bustling market town and the main shopping town of the south-west. A renowned Farmer’s Market takes place every Friday morning in the main square. Look out for the West Cork Fuchsia Brand, a marketing initiative to brand the huge variety of local produce that both locals and newcomers to the area manufacture, for the local and international markets.
The Sheep’s Head Way indeed offers an interesting variety of experiences during this six-day self-guided walking adventure!
Prices / Dates
Price: €615 per person sharing
Single Supplement: +€350
Tour Dates: 1 April to 31 October
Tour Grade: Easy to Moderate
Included / Excluded
It is also possible to arrive by Dublin or Shannon airport but this will result in a longer transfer by bus.
We will supply you with all the travel details on how to get to your first B&B in Bantry.
Bantry town is perfectly located as a place to start your self-guided walking adventure in the south-west of Ireland. Bantry sits in the bay separating the Sheep's Head and Beara peninsulas and is in the shelter of Whiddy Island.
On the first day of your walking tour on the Sheep's Head Way, you will walk from Bantry to Glanlough overlooking Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island. Today’s walking trail will take you along a beautiful ridge before taking you down into Glanlough.
Distance: 16 km / 10 miles, Ascent: 280 m / 1148 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours
Today’s self-guided walk gives you the option to follow Gortnakilly ridge up onto Seefin Mountain, the highest point of the peninsula at 345 m. Alternatively, you can walk along the lower path which also finishes in Kilcrohane village.
Distance: 13 km / 8 miles, Ascent: 385 m / 1263 ft, Approximate walking time: 3 / 4 hours
You will walk along the wild and rugged coastline at the western extremity of Sheep's Head peninsula today, passing through long abandoned and ruined villages and the Gortavallig Copper Mines.
Distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles, Ascent: 110 m / 360 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours
Your walk today starts with a short climb along the southern coastline which leads you to a 17th-century signal tower. The walking trail then continues at lower levels winding through farmsteads and ancient townlands towards Kilcrohane village.
Distance: 16 km / 10 miles, Ascent: 200 m / 656 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours
Durrus, the largest village on the peninsula, is today’s destination and the walking trail takes you along undisturbed paths and winding roads. Passing through this area you will see evidence of the extensive activity from pre-Christian times in the form of standing stones, wells and burial grounds.
Distance: 16 km / 10 miles, Ascent: 280 m / 918 ft, Approximate walking time: 4 / 5 hours
On the final leg of your return to Bantry, you move inland from the coastline and ascend "Barr na Gaoithe", translated as the Top of the Wind, before meandering back down on small country roads into the town through the beautiful grounds of Bantry House.
Distance: 17 km / 10.5 miles, Ascent: 190 m / 623 ft, Approximate walking time: 5 / 6 hours
After a hearty Irish breakfast, you will depart from Bantry for home.
We will supply you with all the travel details that you require for your onward journey from Bantry.